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Invasive Silver Carp found in Choctaw Creek Downstream from Lake Texoma

Silver Carp

Anglers Urged to Prevent Bait Bucket Transfers

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) received a report in late June that an invasive silver carp had been spotted in Choctaw Creek, a Texas tributary of the Red River approximately 15 miles downstream from Lake Texoma. A bow angler, Stephen Banaszak, first reported the finding and two specimens were provided to TPWD and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) who confirmed they were silver carp.

“These are the first reports of silver carp from Texas waters, although they have previously been found in other areas of the Red River including just downstream from Lake Texoma in Oklahoma waters in 2019,” said Dan Bennett, TPWD fisheries management biologist. “Invasive carp pose a significant risk to Lake Texoma’s ecosystem and boaters and there is adequate flow and upstream river area for them to become established and reproduce in the lake if introduced.”

Silver CarpTo prevent the spread of these invasive species, which look much like shad when small, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission passed regulations making it illegal to transport any live nongame fish from these water bodies. Anglers are urged to follow these rules to prevent introducing these species to other water bodies when using them as bait.

“These invasive carp are not native to the U.S. but have been introduced and become established and problematic in numerous states, primarily in the Mississippi River Basin. Both of these invasive carp species are filter feeders and have the potential to cause significant changes in native fish populations by competing with other filter feeding fish species such as shad and buffalo, and even larval sportfish that also rely on plankton as a food source in their first couple of months,” said Monica McGarrity, TPWD Senior Scientist for Aquatic Invasive Species.

“Silver carp can also pose a risk to humans, as they can jump up to 10 feet out of the water when startled by the sounds of watercraft, often jumping into boats, sometimes injuring boaters. When present in large numbers, jumping silver carp can be a significant hazard.”Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Young silver and bighead carp are similar in appearance to shad but can be identified by their low-set eyes—shad’s eyes are located near the top of their heads—and the lack of a long, whip-like segment on the dorsal fin. Silver and bighead carp are also similar in appearance to each other, but silver carp have silver, rather than gray, bodies and a ‘keel’ or ridge that runs the length of the belly from the anal fin all the way to the throat, whereas the keel on bighead carp stops at the pelvic fin. Both species can grow quite large, with silver carp reaching approximately 3 feet in length and nearly 60 pounds and bighead carp reaching up to 4 and a half feet in length and nearly 90 pounds. Both species are easily confused with shad or even minnows when small.

TPWD, in collaboration with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, and USFWS, is currently working with researchers at Texas Tech University and Auburn University to conduct research on invasive carp. The project will assess the population status and distribution of bighead carp and silver carp across the Red River Basin, including the Red River downstream of Lake Texoma and the Sulphur River, a major Red River tributary, downstream of Lake Wright Patman. The project will also collect baseline data on native fish populations that may be negatively impacted by the invasive carp.

Anyone who catches either silver or bighead carp in Texas waters is asked to report the sighting with location information and photos to AquaticInvasives@tpwd.texas.gov. Silver and bighead carp are prohibited exotic species in Texas and must be killed upon possession by beheading, gutting, gill-cutting or other means or placed on ice. Neither species can be possessed live.

For more information on silver and bighead carp, visit the USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species database webpages below:

Silver carp: https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/factsheet.aspx?SpeciesID=549
Bighead carp: https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/factsheet.aspx?SpeciesID=551

Regulations for the possession and transport of exotic aquatic species can be viewed in the Outdoor Annual.

Source:  https://tpwd.texas.gov/newsmedia/releases/

 

 

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Toyota ShareLunker Program Launches 35th Season

Toyota ShareLunker logo
Sharelunker - young man with large bass

The turning of the calendar to January signals the beginning of the 35th season of the Toyota Sharelunker program. The year-round Toyota Sharelunker program offers four levels of participation for catching bass over 8 pounds or 24 inches in Texas.

“We are excited to kick off another ShareLunker season,” said Toyota Sharelunker Program Coordinator Kyle Brookshear. “Not only for the selective spawning and stocking of these world-class offspring, but also to help gather vital catch and genetic data to help our fisheries biologists better manage trophy bass populations throughout the great fisheries of Texas.”

“We are excited to kick off another ShareLunker season,” said Toyota Sharelunker Program Coordinator Kyle Brookshear. “Not only for the selective spawning and stocking of these world-class offspring, but also to help gather vital catch and genetic data to help our fisheries biologists better manage trophy bass populations throughout the great fisheries of Texas.”

During the first three months of the season (Jan. 1 through March 31), anglers who reel in a 13+ pound bass can loan it to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for the ShareLunker selective breeding and stocking program. These anglers can call the ShareLunker hotline at (903) 681-0550 to report their catch 24/7 until April 1, 2021.

Anglers who catch and donate one of these 13+ lunkers earn Legacy Class status, receive a catch kit filled with merchandise, a 13lb+ Legacy decal for their vehicle or boat, VIP access to the Toyota ShareLunker Annual Awards event and a high-quality replica of their lunker fish. These anglers will also receive entries into two separate drawings; a Legacy Class Drawing and the year-end Grand Prize Drawing. Both drawings will award the winner a $5,000 Bass Pro Shops shopping spree and an annual fishing license.

Anglers who enter data for any lunker they catch greater than 8 lbs. or 24 inches during the calendar year 2021 also receive a catch kit, a decal for their vehicle or boat and an entry into the year-end Grand Prize Drawing to win a $5,000 Bass Pro Shops shopping spree and annual fishing license. ShareLunker

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Use these six heat hacks to stay safe this summer

Last year, as temperatures soared into the triple digits in Texas, 48 Texas State Parks handled 129 heat-related illnesses in humans and pets. Now that temperatures are steadily climbing, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is sharing their top six heat hacks for staying safe in the outdoors.

  1. Hydrate– It’s important to drink at least 16 ounces of water every hour in the heat to replenish your body and prevent dehydration. Don’t forget to bring enough for your four-legged family members too.

     

  2. Block the Rays –Apply a generous amount of sunscreen or sunblock before heading outdoors. Be sure to reapply every couple of hours, and after swimming or sweating.

     

  3. Dress Smart– Wear light, loose-fitting, breathable clothing; a hat, correct shoes, sunscreen and wet bandanas to keep you cool while in the sun. For pets, protect paws against blistering by hitting the trails during cooler times of the day when the ground isn’t hot or by putting booties on pets to help shield paws from the hot ground. Touch the pavement or ground with the back of your hand. If you cannot hold it there for five seconds, the surface is too hot for your dog’s paws.

     

  4. Stay Salty– Food helps keep up energy and replace salt lost from sweating. Eating snacks such as jerky, granola, trail mix, tuna and dried fruit is a fantastic way to nourish your body while on the trails.

     

  5. Buddy System– Two brains are better than one. It’s beneficial to have someone with you in hot conditions so you can look after each other on the trail. With high temperatures hitting Texas, heat-related illnesses are common and having a friend around to help recognize the early symptoms can save you from getting sick.

     

  6. Plan Ahead-Study the map and have it with your. Average hikers move at 2 miles per hour, so allow yourself plenty of time to avoid hiking in the heat of the day. Make sure to rest in a cool or shaded area to recover from the heat if necessary. it is also a good idea to let someone know your plan before you hit the trails and what time you should be back. That way, if you become lost, people know where to look.

For more information about heat safety, visit the TPWD website.

All guests, including annual pass holders, are encouraged to pre-purchase or register for day passes and overnight reservations in advance through the Texas State Parks Reservation System before heading out to a state park. Park capacities are limited, and permits sell out fast.  If purchasing a permit at the park, keep in mind that only credit card transactions can occur.  Cash is not being accepted at this time as a form of payment.  Reservations can be made online at www.texasstateparks.org or by calling 512-389-8900.

Existing social distancing standards and public health recommendations remain in effect including the recommendation to wear face coverings and bring one’s own supply of hand sanitizer. Face coverings are strongly encouraged when approaching others closer than six feet or when entering buildings with other guests. State parks will also continue the requirement of social distancing from individuals outside of their party, including the prohibition of the gathering of groups larger than ten, or any number that are not part of the same family or household.

Find a park in your area at http://texasstateparks.org.

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