In the News

Texas Parks & Wildlife Choose Aquatic Attractor Lights at Inks Lake

Media Contact: Marcos De Jesus, (512) 353-0072,
Marcos.DeJesus@tpwd.texas.gov
Terry Rodgers (512) 793-2223
Terry.Rodgers@tpwd.texas.gov

Dec. 2, 2013

Partnerships Revitalize Fishing at Inks Lake, a Hill Country Gem

ATHENS—Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Inland Fisheries and State Parks divisions have partnered with other private groups to develop habitat enhancement projects to improve fishing opportunities at Inks Lake the past three years. Selected sites have been refurbished with brush, gravel and light structures designed to attract fish to areas accessible by boat and bank anglers.

Four open-water brush attractors were installed in September 2013; three Aquatic Attractor Underwater lights were installed at the state park’s south pier in August, 2013; and a brush and gravel bed complex was installed at the state park’s north pier in February 2011.

Brushpiles attract cover-seeking species like black basses, crappies, sunfishes and catfishes; gravel beds attract spawning sunfishes; and Aquatic Attractor Underwater lights attract pelagic species like white bass, striped bass and hybrid striped bass. These structures provide habitat for the entire food chain, topped off by the large predator species anglers seek. When combined, these Aquatic Attractor Underwater lights can be very productive.

TPWD District Fisheries Supervisor Marcos De Jesus said, “These types of projects can be costly and labor-intensive; however, they become possible due to partnerships with groups committed to conservation.” Eagle Scout candidate William Patterson, along with Troop 5 of the Boy Scouts of America, led the joint efforts behind the open-water brushpile attractors. TPWD and other volunteers have committed to each of these projects, improving fisheries habitat at Inks Lake.The installed habitat structures are designed to facilitate fishing for all angler types by concentrating fish and improving catch rates. The enhanced pier sites give state park visitors and campers the opportunity to make bank fishing an important component of their trip. Both piers have been enhanced to attract all game fish species available at Inks Lake.

Inks Lake (768 acres) is easy to overlook, lying between area fishing giants Lake Buchanan and Lake LBJ. Like other rocky Hill Country lakes, this lake can be challenging for anglers, giving it an undeserved reputation for poor fishing. “The truth is this lake is a hidden gem that offers quality fishing opportunities,” said De Jesus. Recent fisheries surveys have revealed good abundance of large black bass, sunfishes and catfishes. The best five largemouth bass caught during a recent electrofishing survey weighed 39 pounds (an average of 7.8 pounds per fish). Temperate basses, such as white bass, also offer excellent seasonal fishing opportunities.

The installed habitat structures are designed to facilitate fishing for all angler types by concentrating fish and improving catch rates. The enhanced pier sites give state park visitors and campers the opportunity to make bank fishing an important component of their trip. Both piers have been enhanced to attract all game fish species available at Inks Lake.

Furthermore, with the improved light structures, pier fishing is available all night to overnight guests, and with free fishing at state parks, a fishing license is not required. Terry Rodgers, Inks Lake State Park manager, said, “The improvements to the fisheries at Inks Lake have been excellent! We have been educating our park visitors to become anglers through fishing programs, and by enhancing the habitat, we have improved fishing opportunities.”

GPS coordinates for the structures and directions to Inks Lake State Park, which offers the only public boat ramp access to the lake, can be found online on the TPWD website,
Location of Aquatic Attractor Underwater Lights!.

De Jesus said, “These aquatic habitat projects improve fishing opportunities at Texas reservoirs. If any person or group wants to participate in these types of reservoir habitat restoration projects on local lakes, they are encouraged to become a member of Friends of Reservoirs. See www.waterhabitatlife.org for details or contact your local district fisheries management office.”


With Underwater Lighting, Night Just Right for Fishing

Lou Grandolfo, Pat Murray and I stood on the upper-level deck of a Tiki Island home one night last week and stared, slack-jawed, into the green, hypnotic glow cast by two underwater lights on the bottom of West Bay. There was a slight ripple of the surface and, just beneath that rippled surface, at least 200 speckled trout.
Night fishing is an excellent alternative to prime fishing spots or driving half the night to beat the sunrise. All the better, devices on the market now make the activity more pleasant and more productive.

“It’s almost surreal,” Murray said in a hushed tone. “I could stand here all night watching those fish. It’s incredible to get to see the way they react when a shrimp or a shad comes along.”
“It’s almost surreal,” Murray said in a hushed tone. “I could stand here all night watching those fish. It’s incredible to get to see the way they react when a shrimp or a shad comes along.”As if on cue, a fat shrimp kicked to the surface among all those hungry mouths. Bad move on the the shrimp’s part. One speck, backlit so that its every move was plainly visible, wheeled 180 degrees within its own length and took a vicious but errant swipe. The shrimp hopped, skipped – and landed right in the gun sights of yet another trout. That second fish did not miss, and the shrimp vanished in one of those trademark “pops” feeding trout make when they slurp a meal off the surface.
Traditional nighttime fishing lights offended the two with the way they flooded nearby homes with unwanted illumination. That, and the way they attracted hordes of gnats and mosquitoes, and the way they sucked thousands of watts of electricity. We left that first house, which faces the open bay, and slipped up on another set of lights in one of Tiki Island’s interior canals.
The big fish idled over the warm bulb, which heats to more than 100 degrees, about two feet beneath the surface and waiting patiently for the baitfish they knew would be drawn to the glow. A menhaden skittered out of the shadows and, as was the fate of that shrimp outside the island, was taken almost immediately.
Enough was enough, Murray and I grabbed fishing rods. It took him only two or three casts with a Corky suspending plug to draw a strike from a trout of nearly 20 inches. I countered with a fly rod, throwing a Clouser minnow, and scored a fish only an inch or so smaller.
Notably, after those two fish were caught, it was several minutes before any trout reappeared in the lights. Murray, who also lives on the island and fishes regularly at night under old style lights, said the fish’s retreat into the darker water was typical.
“They’ll go away if they here you walking up,” Grandolfo said, tapping his foot heavily on the wood dock. At the sound, visible trout sunk slowly but surely from sight. After we stood quietly for a minute or so, they reappeared at our feet, one by one, and resumed their feeding activity.
I talked with Grandolfo again Thursday afternoon. He was amped with excitement over a sighting the previous night, beneath the same light from which Murray and I caught those trout.
“There was a school of reds in there,” Grandolfo said, “Must have been at least a dozen of them, all at least 23 or 24 inches long. A mullet about six inches long showed up.” Same thing happened to the mullet as to the menhaden and the shrimp, only with a lot more violence, Grandolfo said, because the fish were big reds and not little trout.
Grandolfo’s rigs are built to standards beyond what the government requires of underwater lights. They light at dusk and shut themselves off at dawn. A ground fault interruption (GFI) outlet is required at the installation sight. All of which is great news for waterfront homeowners, a group that does not include me.
One of this system’s greatest attributes – the non-necessity of illumination above the surface, which reduces insect problems – also can be a hindrance  A few public piers on the coast have installed his lights, and others are in various stages of negotiation for them. Worth a look wherever you can find them. Count on some lost sleep. For information on the Aquatic Attractor underwater light, call Lou Grandolfo at (409)933-4438.

Young Anglers See the Light, Rack Up on Specks, Reds, Flatfish

GALVESTON –  Usually, When an angler or a group of anglers catch more fish than anyone else, it can be said they turned their competition green with envy. On Saturday, when three area youngsters finished Their day on the upside, green was a topic of conversation, but envy was nowhere to be found.

These anglers simply saw the light, and so did the fish.  Indeed, anglers Randy Raper, Brandon Marcantel and Sam Guarino did a number on speckled trout, red- fish, flounder and sand trout, and while the threesome are certainly quality fishermen, their performances were aided by some lights. Green lights.  Thanks to an “underwater lighting system” known appropriately enough as “Aquatic At- tractors,” the youthful anglers caught limits and near limits of speckled trout and redfishalong with a smattering of flounder and a mess of sand trout. Ten-year-old Randy Raper started the hit parade with a big catch from a set of Aquatic At- tractor lights at his parents’ Tiki Island home, including a nice size flounder and four sand trout, and that was followed up by two 14-year- old anglers who caught Limits of speckled trout, nice numbers of legal red- fish and some sand trout.

In all, Brandon Marcantel caught 10 specks, one keeper redfish and 17 sand trout, and his buddy, Sam Guarino, also decked 10 speckled trout along with two redfish and 17 sandies, and all with the help of the underwater aquatic lighting system. As for the system itself Aquatic Attractors are the brainchild by Lou Grandolfo and Aquatic Attractors Inc. of Galveston, (409) 933-4438, and are permanently installed underwater lights that bring fish “like nothing you’ve seen before.”

“You will not believe your eyes,” Grandolfo said Saturday afternoon. “But they do come with a warning.” And what a warning. Essentially, Grandolfo says his company will not be responsible for anyone who “loses sleep due to fish gazing, unfinished chores or crowding by relatives or friends.”“You will not believe your eyes,” Grandolfo said Saturday afternoon. “But they do come with a warning.” And what a warning. Essentially, Grandolfo says his company will not be responsible for anyone who “loses sleep due to fish gazing, unfinished chores or crowding by relatives or friends.”

In other area fishing news, another youngster who did nicely Friday night was Kyle Butler who caught and re- leased five redfish in West Bay behind Spanish Grant. No other details were offered on the haul. Yet another youth with a great catch did his thing at the Galveston Fishing Pier. Ac- cording to staffer Pat Al- bertson,10-year-old Mark Phelps decked on bull redfish (released), a drum, two gafftops and 30 croakers. “He was a very happy little boy when he left here,” Albertson noted.

Over at the Galveston jetties, Capt. Mike Horton of Brand X put the Ron Parker party of six on 25 bull redfish during an early Friday 4-hour trip. One of the redfish was tagged, and they all went for mullet. Elsewhere, an Angler Education Instructor Course will be held Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Galveston County Agriculture Extension Office at 5115 State Highway 3 in Dickinson. The workshop, provided by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, is for adult educators and volunteers who would like to teach other individuals mainly children, how to fish.

This new hands-on program is geared for classroom teachers and youth group leaders who want to help others experience the fun, excitement and adventure of sport fishing and is free to all the participants will receive curriculum and resource materials upon arrival. Some of the workshop high- lights included in this important event are fish identification, tackle and equipment, ethics and responsibility, angling rules and regulations, fish biology/behavior, aquatic ecology, angler safety, class- room activities, fishing techniques and conservation.

For registration or more in- formation, call Chris Lena at(800) 792-1112+1 (then ask for Ext. 4755), or (512) 389-4755. Individuals who are planning to partake in this event are asked to arrive promptly at 8:15 a.m.

Email Shed Some Light on Forming Reefs in a West Bay Canal

GALVESTON — Normally, the daily report leads off with a short statement focusing on the day’s top events, but for today only, I’m going to refurbish that blueprint just a bit.
Instead of informing you that such and such fish were caught, what I’d like to remind you to do is check the email received late Monday from Albert a Houston. I think you will find it quite interesting.

The following email from Albert in Houston is printed in its entirety:
Producing Oyster Reefs: Vince, The open forum of your article (Sunday) inspired me to write you this email. In fact, it reminded me – when was the last time I went fishing? Oh yeah, yesterday – way too long!
Anyhow, we live in Houston and own a beach house in Pirates Cove and have recently purchased aquatic underwater lights, which seem to be the big rage of late. Ironically, our canal is inundated with these lights – it is awesome at night. More importantly these lights have brought a new dimension to giving back to the bay or should I say, give it vitality.
Ironically, our canal is inundated with these lights – it is awesome at night. More importantly these lights have brought a new dimension to giving back to the bay or should I say, give it vitality.Ever since the canals were built, they have laid stagnate due to the silty / muddy bottom which is common in West Bay canals. Yes, you have trout come in and out at night under lights, but primarily everything is pretty lifeless in the canals. The reason simply is the fact there is really nothing for fish to live on or to develop habitat due to the thick layer of bottom silt.   Things have changed lately with these new lights. Due to the fact that they come on at dusk every night, they create a feeding pattern for the baitfish, shrimp, crustaceans and game fish. The unique aspect about the lights is that they develop natural oyster reefs around the base of the light, which is like developing crops in a fallow field.
What my brother-in-law and I have done is to take it one step further. We have sunk concrete blocks, crushed concrete and shells, around the area of the lights. Through the natural process of the bay, algae, barnacles and eventually oysters will form on top and around them within a couple of years. Additionally, we have collected buckets and buckets of large empty oyster shells and dispersed around the blocks.
Again this will create growth. Why are we doing this? It’s simple. When the reef is created, then all of the marine life, like sea lice, small shrimp etc. will live there year round. This will keep game fish there year round. Call it preserve if you will, but it gives West Bay a new dimension in regards to natural reproduction. I have already seen fish and shrimp over our reef that I have never seen before, especially in the winter.   I do not work for or represent anything relating to these lights, I just wanted to share this bit of information because I know how much you love this bay system. Hopefully, these oyster reefs will flourish in the future especially in areas that were once deep dark mud canals.
I read your articles daily on the Internet. … Thanks for all that you do!

- Albert in Houston

 

 

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