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2013-09-19

BCRAGD, SARA work to save the fish

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

In late August, Bandera Country River Authority staffers worked with scientists from the San Antonio River Authority to save the fish! Staffers captured 84 rare Guadalupe Bass and 400-500 other fish from two locations on the Medina and its tributaries that are drying up. The locations included Rocky Creek and Wallace Creek at North Prong. The bass were taken to the Texas Parks and Wildlife hatchery in Kerrville; the other fish were re-located to a larger pool of water upstream on the North Prong.
Most of the fish were rescued from areas where the Medina is puddling due to the drought. "Those fish were going to die," said BCRAGD General Manager Dave Mauk.
In December of 2012, BCRAGD worked with SARA, Texas State University, and TPWD to capture Guadalupe bass to be used to restock the San Antonio River along the Mission Reach Ecosystem Restoration and Recreation Project in San Antonio.
Populations of Guadalupe bass are threatened across the Hill Country. A Texas Parks and Wildlife program to stock smallmouth bass in the Hill Country begun in 1974 had the unfortunate result of producing hybrids when the two species crossed. In 1992, TPWD began a pilot program to restore native populations of the Guadalupe bass.
Drought, reservoirs and diminished stream flow have also affected the numbers of this popular game fish throughout the region.
Guadalupe bass do not grow to large size because they are adapted to small streams with fast flowing water. Specimens in excess of 3.5 pounds have been landed.
According to TPWD, the Guadalupe bass is found only in Texas and has been named the official state fish. It is endemic to the northern and eastern Edwards Plateau including headwaters of the San Antonio River, the Guadalupe River above Gonzales, the Colorado River north of Austin, and portions of the Brazos River drainage. Relatively small populations can also be found outside of the Edwards Plateau, primarily in the lower Colorado River.
As a protected game fish, the Guadalupe bass can be caught only with pole and line. Limited harvest is allowed. The daily bag limit for Guadalupe bass is five fish per day, and there is no minimum length limit for Guadalupe bass. Special regulations apply at Lost Maples State Natural Area, where all black basses are catch-and-release only.
The Guadalupe bass, like other so-called "black bass" are not true bass, but are members of the sunfish family.