Greenhouse for Native Aquatic Plant Species at Lake Fork

Lake Fork Reservoir is a 27,264-acre impoundment located on Lake Fork Creek, a tributary of the Sabine River, approximately five miles northwest of Quitman, Texas and approximately 70 miles east of Dallas, Texas. Lake Fork is a popular fishing location for a number of species including crappie, channel catfish, and maintains a world-renowned largemouth bass fishery. Since the beginning of the ShareLunker program in Texas in 1986, 256 of the 553 largemouth bass (>13 lbs) donated to the program have been caught at Lake Fork; and Lake Fork still holds the state record largemouth bass at 18.18 lbs.  

Throughout its 34-year life-span, fish populations in Lake Fork have benefitted from an abundance of flooded timber and aquatic vegetation.   As Lake Fork ages, woody habitat availability continues to decline and has become less abundant over time. In recent years, fluctuating water levels from drought and ever increasing water demands have also reduced the coverage of aquatic macrophytes in the reservoir. These aquatic plants provide important habitat for fish, waterfowl, and other aquatic organisms; and, also provide much needed shoreline stabilization and erosion control.

In order to maintain Lake Fork’s reputation as Texas’ premier largemouth bass fishery, it will be important to seek opportunities to enhance available habitat and, as a result, fish populations in the reservoir. It is also important to promote angler awareness of habitat enhancement projects in the reservoir to improve awareness of fishing opportunities.

LFSA and TPWD proposed to fund aquatic habitat enhancement in Lake Fork Reservoir to ensure the maintenance of this important fishery for future generations. The scope of the funding included the purchase and establishment of a greenhouse and long-term project to raise native wetland shrubs for planting in shallow water (<4 feet) along the reservoir shoreline. The project involved partners including the Sabine River Authority and Yantis ISD High School agricultural students.

Funds were used to procure a greenhouse for the propagation of native button bush trees. Purchase of young, bare-root button bush trees is conducted annually by the Lake Fork Sportsman’s Association (LFSA). Trees are potted and raised in the greenhouse with the help of (LFSA) members and Yantis High School agricultural students. Buttonbush are planted annually in multiple areas around the reservoir, two to three feet below conservation pool, to create nursery colonies and provide angling opportunities as fish are attracted to the complex habitat provided by inundated shrubs.   Rooted Buttonbush trees, raised to a mature size, provide an increased probability of survival as compared with cheaper, bare-root plants. Procedures for planting will follow those employed in November 2011, when volunteers from TPWD and the Lake Fork Sportsman’s Association planted 400 rooted buttonbush plants in Lake Fork in a similar project.

Click link to view construction pictures -