The hydrilla on Lake Jacksonville is rapidly declining. Huge beds of hydrilla have disappeared throughout the lake. No longer do you have to worry about cleaning the hydrilla off of your motor prop because there is no hydrilla growing near the surface.
This week a team from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department conducted a vegetation survey on Lake Jacksonville.
The results of this survey are still being calculated, but preliminary findings indicate that there is far less hydrilla now than before.
At the beginning of the year, Richard Ott, who is the project leader of the Inland Fisheries, and his team had determined that there were 350 acres of hydrilla in Lake Jacksonville.
The lake was chemically sprayed in June and over several weeks’ time 3,500 grass carp were released. This computes to 10 grass carp per hydrilla acre.
I talked with Ott this week, and he said, “We did a vegetation survey this week, and there is far less hydrilla now than before. We treated 120 acres and we got a 200-acre result.” That’s almost double what they had anticipated.
The big drop in hydrilla growth is due to several factors. The chemical spraying, plus the carp stocking, plus the large amount of rain, cloudy and cooler weather through June and July all contributed to the rapid decline in hydrilla.
Back in July, Ott said in an e-mail, “I think the two floods back to back and the several weeks of muddy water have taken their toll. We were on the lake Wednesday and Thursday last week doing maintenance on our plant cages.
We drove around with the graph to see what the under water vegetation looked like. There is still hydrilla on the bottom in the untreated areas but it is only 1-1.5 ft tall. It looks like the high water has also killed back some of the lotus.
The native plants are better flood adapted and still look good. This demonstrates why a diverse plant community (rather than a monoculture of one species) is so important. It allows us to manage for uncertainty.
Last week Ott told me, “There is an awful lot of pond weed and coon tail remaining, the flood really skewered a lot of hydrilla out. There is nothing left near the surface. There are probably less than 100 acres of hydrilla left. We won’t know for sure until the survey figures are calculated.”
Ott said, “We are probably a year ahead of what we expected. This worked faster than we had hoped. I will be making a recommendation to the city later this year.”
The hydrilla is so prolific that under normal circumstances it grows back to the surface two months after treatment.
I asked Robert Sadler about this, and he said, “It looks like it is in good shape. There is not any growing around my lake house or near the bank. Usually by mid-August it is growing back thick.”
The rapid decline of hydrilla has really changed up the way I fish and where I fish. When the hydrilla was thick, fishermen had to punch baits through the grass. Now you can fish any lure you want to. The secret to finding and catching the bass now is to locate small patches of hydrilla. Wherever you find scattered hydrilla you will find the bass. Crank baits and Carolina rigs are still producing for me.
Bass fishing in the day time has been good this year for me. The only time it has declined is when high pressure sets in. Clear, calm, hot sunny days really shut the fish off. The only way I know to catch bass under these conditions is to pitch a tube, Sienko or other similar bait up under docks.
Last Monday I picked up a limit of big Kentucky bass by skipping a Nichols’ chartreuse, Salty Mother ™ tube under docks in Cat Creek. I was surprised because every fish I caught was a Kentucky that averaged between one and two pounds.
Lake Jacksonville is still a good fishing lake, and it will remain a good fishing lake as long as it has amply amounts of aquatic growth.
No one can predict the hydrilla situation. The good news is that there is a substantial amount of pond weed and coon tail moss growing in different areas of the lake.