Fishing habitats could change as Central Texas flooding has peaked

Flooding in Central Texas is all part of the cycle that can be beneficial to the fishing industry.

Marcos De Jesus is the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department fisheries biologist in San Marcos-Austin. He said the recent flooding and water ban is once in a lifetime event. The hundreds of fish that washed ashore in Central Texas following last week's flooding was due to the rising waters, not poor water quality. When the water receded, the fish got stranded. 

“Habitat for fish, especially, could be deeply impacted from the fact that everything’s going to shift, everything’s going to get displaced and it’s going to be kind of a remodeled habitat situation for fish,” said De Jesus.

He said fish are resilient and will move laterally to waters that have a lesser flow and will come back when everything is sorted out. LBJ, Austin, Lady Bird and Inks lakes will experience more restructuring of habitat because they have varying water levels.

“There’s going to be some fish that are going to go downstream into other lakes, down the river. And, there’s going to fish from upstream that come into the lakes that were impacted. So, there’s always movement of fish,” said De Jesus.

He said only Buchannan and Travis lakes have moving water levels, but they were in a drought spell with low water levels with the summer and Austin water consumption.

De Jesus said the biggest problem now is access to the lakes because of too many threats to go in safely.

He added they can always rebuild fisheries because they have a great hatchery system to produce fish to restock lakes.

A flood event is beneficial to the fishery because terrestrial habitat that grows high and dry gets inundated and creates a new habitat for fish and in the next two or three years, a boom in fishing. De Jesus said they were already experiencing a boom from the 2015-2016 flood events.

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