Southeastern Fishes Council
Dedicated to the Conservation of Southeastern Fishes

1997 Report of Region 6 - Southwest
Jack Killgore, U.S. Army Engineer Waterways Experiment Station (WES), begins a larval fish study this spring in Big Cypress Bayou (Red River drainage) to evaluate hydrologic influences on spawning success of riverine fishes. The ultimate goal is to restore floodplain habitats by optimizing reservoir releases.

Jack, Phil Kirk (WES), Jim Morrow (WES) and Howard Rogillio (LA Dept of Wildlife and Fisheries) continue their studies of the demography, distribution, movements and status of Gulf sturgeon, Acipenser oxyrhynchus desotoi in the West Pearl River/Lake Pontchartrain system. To date more than 250 fish have been tagged, 15 with radio tags and pectoral spines examined from more than 70 individuals. Age and growth data are being used by Jim and Phil to develop and refine the first population model developed for this species.

Chad Keith, Northeast Louisiana University (NLU) and Frank Pezold (NLU) are initiating a study of seasonal changes in fish communities associated with aquatic macrophyte beds. Frank Pezold and Amy Frobish (NLU) are studying larval fish production in the Ouachita River. Neil Douglas (NLU) is continuing work on his book.

Conservation concerns in the area are many. Gary Tilyou (Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries) identified several major issues including: mercury contamination in sportfish and the possible effect this may have on length regulations, freshwater mussel harvest and its impact on mussel populations, and the use of grass carp to control aquatic vegetation in public waters. In north Louisiana grass carp were recently introduced into a portion of Bayou Desiard and in 1994 in Caney Lake. Headlines in the Monroe NewsStar last year were reading "think of grass-eating piranha and that's what you've got" and "Grass Carp Out of Control." Basically, Caney Lake is a Trophy bass lake (reservoir) that was stocked after impoundment with introduced Florida bass. Then someone introduced hydrilla in 1988. In 1992 there were 500 acres of hydrilla. The entire lake is under 5000 acres. The 12,000 introduced grass carp have denuded the lake except for lily pads. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has been attempting to reduce the number by a variety of methods, including electrofishing and a bow-hunting season. Other carp immigrants from Arkansas have become well-established in NE Louisiana waterways. LaFourche Bayou (tributary to Ouachita River) is a hotbed for silver carp and bighead carp. One 35-lb specimen was recently added to the Museum of Zoology when it jumped out of the water and struck a frog gigger in the chest. He wrestled it down and contributed its body to science.

In Texas and Oklahoma the Red River Chloride Control Project is still being fought out. It started in 1957 when Congress authorized the US Army Corps of Engineers to develop a plan to control salt levels in the Red River. Lake Texoma was built in 1944 and since then has become a greater resource for recreation than for drinking water. Ninety-seven percent of the time it is too saline for municipal (=Dallas) use. Reduction of the salt load is opposed because of the threat to the striped bass fishery in Lake Texoma (a multimillion dollar enterprise) and the effect on native species that have evolved in the saline environment.

Frank Pezold