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Texas Parks & Wildlife Announces Early Success of Artificial Reefs

Lifestyle

Aerial view of Belton Lake. | Image from Wikipedia

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A multi-partnership project operated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to erect four artificial reefs in Belton Lake is showing early success, according to TPWD researchers.

Two weeks after erecting the reefs, researchers used sonar and detected schools of fish using the structures. Belton Lake is a popular fishing destination in Central Texas, and the new reefs are expected to improve fish habitats to promote the sport.     

The artificial reefs are built from PVC pipes and are configured to recreate the types of habitat fish use for shelter. The reefs are constructed of Georgia Cubes, made from 1.5-inch schedule 40 PVC and black irrigation drainage pipe.

The artificial reefs were first used by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and have become popular in other states in recent years.   

In addition to the Georgia Cubes, TPWD installed ‘Trophy Trees,’ ‘Safe Havens,’ and ‘Conservation Cubes’ to improve fish habitats in the lake. The habitat products used don’t biodegrade and are less likely to snag hooks and lures than natural habitat designs.   

The project originated when Tincup Whiskey offered a grant to Texas B.A.S.S. Nation, an organization that represents the state’s fishing clubs. Belton Lake falls within the North Central Region.    

“When this grant came in, my first thought was to do a habitat project on a reservoir that needed it,” said Dave Terre. He worked with TPWD for 35 years before recently retiring and is now the Texas B.A.S.S. Nation Conservation Director.     

“We met as an organization and decided that Belton Lake was a place where we would love to do a project like this. The first phone call I made was to John Tibbs, TPWD Inland Fisheries Waco District supervisor. The Brazos River Authority had also reached out to John with some funds to partner on this type of a project and it all came together for Belton Lake,” said Terre.   

Texas B.A.S.S. Nation partnered with Waco and Fort Worth Inland Fisheries District, Texas Anglers Bass Club and Centex Bass Hunters volunteers, Baylor University student volunteers, the Brazos River Authority, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Mossback Fish Habitat, and Quality Brick Works to provide the components and labor to assemble and place the reefs.

They were placed in September 2021.    

The project expands on efforts begun in 2015 to restore the waters of Belton Lake. The lake is a reservoir created in the 1950s by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The lake provides drinking water for Belton and Temple and establishes a flood control system for the area.     

The reservoir is stocked with several popular game species, including large- and smallmouth bass, crappie, several species of catfish, and other fish species. In addition to fishing, the lake is a popular location for boating, kayaking, and water sports.     

The four artificial reefs are expected to have a lifespan of several decades. The GPS coordinates are available on the TPWD website.   

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