Better fishing at Lake Limestone

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department photo

Fish and anglers enjoying three Brazos River Authority system reservoirs can look forward to new digs.

Man-made fish homes, or habitats, were placed in specific locations in each reservoir with hopes they will attract fish to that particular area. Twenty five of these structures were added in five areas of the Brazos River Authority’s Lake Limestone.

“Anglers armed with the locations of these fish habitat structures can easily take advantage of these new concentrations of fish,” according to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department website. “Many partner organizations around the state have worked with TPWD to create and install habitat structures in their favorite reservoirs.”

These new structures are part of a bigger picture. The project stemmed from a 2014 Memorandum of Understanding between the two agencies, said Tiffany Malzahn, BRA Environmental and Compliance Manager.

The state was coming out of a rough drought, and the BRA and TPWD were in the process of studying how fish habitats had been impacted, among other things, Malzahn said. When a reservoir sees a decrease in water levels, fish habitats are stranded out of water.

To help prevent that loss, these new habitats were placed in deeper areas of each reservoir to help in preserving them when lake levels drop, she said.

This year’s recipients of new homes to attract fish include lakes Limestone, Proctor and Somerville.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department photo

Photograph of US Army Corps of Engineers and volunteers loading structures on the tow barge, Proctor Reservoir, Texas, September 2019.

Lake Limestone

The habitats placed in Lake Limestone were constructed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Inland Fisheries Division Waco District Team. The habitat structures at this reservoir are called a PVC cube. The original design was constructed by Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Essentially, the habitat is a large box made of PVC pipe and corrugated drain pipe inlaid in an irregular fashion throughout the cube. This specific design creates tight spaces for smaller fish, and larger spaces for the bigger fish, according to TPWD.

It’s not just the design that’s important but the location. The locations chosen for the freshwater fish reefs were picked to provide easy access for anglers and to help accommodate moderate water elevation changes.

The fish reefs provide habitat for Largemouth Bass and Crappie anglers to target and would likely benefit other species as well. Previous studies have pointed to habitat as the limiting factor in Largemouth Bass abundance.

The BRA also financially assisted in two other projects this past month in the Brazos River basin.

Proctor Lake

Drought and flood cycles, as well as loss of important habitat from processes related to reservoir aging, have been detrimental to fisheries at Lake Proctor, according to the TPWD report. Losing the fish habitats means less largemouth bass, white crappie, blue catfish, and white bass. Without the abundance of those species, anglers are less likely to visit, and therefore, the economic return to the surrounding communities of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ parks takes a hit.

In 2016, TPWD partnered with the BRA and USACE to create artificial reef-like areas by deploying recycled Christmas tree brush piles at various locations. The project was well-received by anglers. The agencies partnered up again in 2019 to enhance other areas of the reservoir.

The GPS coordinates and maps of the habitat enhancement sites are available to the public through the TPWD website.

Lake Somerville

2019 was the second year the BRA partnered with TPWD to install artificial habitat in Lake Somerville, which is owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, on Yegua Creek in Burleson, Lee, and Washington counties.

“The structures provide habitat in areas of the reservoir where none existed before the years of flooding and should help sustain habitat effectiveness, availability, and angler success long after shoreline vegetation reestablishes,” according to the TPWD report. “Good fishing helps support the local economy around the lake and may increase park visitation and camping at Lake Somerville.”

In October, a total of 92 structures were assembled and placed in clusters at a total of 17 locations. For a map of the areas of fish attractors, go here.

“We consider this effort a huge success,” according to the TPWD report. “Together with the BRA, we have provided 17 areas of high-quality habitat for fish and anglers at Lake Somerville – some attracting fish within minutes of deployment. We look forward to continuing this important partnership between TPWD and the BRA as we continue to improve habitat and fishing for our anglers for years to come.”

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department photo


In 2018, the BRA worked with TPWD to improve fishing opportunities and upgrade the environment for fish at several other BRA System reservoirs, Lake Aquilla, Lake Georgetown and Lake Granger. Habitat improvements were made at Lake Granbury, Possum Kingdom Lake and Lake Proctor in 2016.

The BRA contributed $75,000 in funding for the multi-year improvement project, which will continue to take place at all 11 BRA System reservoirs through 2020.

“All of the reservoirs in Texas are aging, and as a result, their habitat is degrading over time,” said Brian Van Zee, TPWD Inland Fisheries Regional Director, in a release. “These habitat projects not only serve to provide habitat for fish but they also help improve fishing opportunities in these reservoirs.”

Anglers can find more information about these habitat projects as well as others that have taken place in reservoirs across the state here.