On any given Saturday, there are about 10 people scattered on the shores of Lake Kyle with fishing poles in the water, waiting for a nibble.
If state and local officials get their way, any bass, channel catfish or sunfish that gets hooked will have to be thrown back.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department wants to make Lake Kyle, a 16-acre lake used for water retention, into an angler’s paradise by making it catch-and-release only for popular species. The agency is accepting public comments on the proposal, and expects to decide in March whether to enact a catch-and-release rule next September.
“We want people to have an incredible fishing experience,” said Marcos J. De Jesús of Texas Parks and Wildlife.
Currently, park visitors are allowed to remove four large-mouth bass a day if they are between 14 and 21 inches long, plus one longer than 21 inches. They can also remove five channel catfish with no restrictions on size.
Texas Parks and Wildlife stocks the lake with fish, but the agency can’t keep up with the number of fish that are being taken out, said Kerry Urbanowicz, director of Kyle’s parks and recreation department.
“We have noticed that the population of the fish has gone down drastically,” Urbanowicz said. “Folks are cleaning us out. It’s declining faster than it can repopulate itself.”
Karin Wied, who takes her children to the lake to fish about once a week and four or five days a week during the summer, said the catch-and-release proposal was a good idea.
“I was surprised that they were making the change,” Wied said. “It’s good, though. I think it will make the lake more sustainable.”
Wied and her children throw their fish back and enjoy visiting for the diversity of the wildlife at the 100-acre park and nature preserve.
“It’s a wonderful place for small children to get their first fishing experience,” she said.
Improving that fishing experience is the goal of the catch-and-release program, Urbanowicz said.
“We’d like to see our catch rates go up,” he said. “Right now, you can fish for a couple hours and maybe catch two fish. We’d like to see a catch rate of every 10 minutes.”
Parks officials are also planning to install fish feeders and aerators in the lake so it can support more fish. Those, plus some new signage, will cost about $10,000, paid for with grants, donations and developer fees, Urbanowicz said.
What happens next
The catch-and-release proposal is in the public comment phase. A formal presentation will be given to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission in November. The commission will vote in March 2014 on proposed rule changes, and if approved, the catch-and-release rule could go into effect in September 2014. To submit a comment about the proposed rule changes, email Marcos.Dejesus@tpwd.texas.gov.