curved box top

blue top

blue line

Lake Travis Water Level

   updated 10:00 PM

blue bottom

blue top

Lake Travis Webcam

blue bottom

blue top

blue bottom

Contact Go Lake Travis

Lady Bird Lake vegetation at risk after ‘mass migration’ of carp

Posted: Tue, 11 Jul 2017 08:19 PM - 907 Readers

By: David Barer and Josh Hinkle

On a steamy summer morning, professional bass fishing guide Ray Tomasits rigged up 10 fishing rods and carefully placed them across the front of his powerboat before pushing off the bank of Lady Bird Lake.

With a KXAN crew in tow, Tomasits stood at the bow, maneuvered the trolling motor with one foot and spoke, all while deftly zipping sidearm casts beneath low-hanging branches and lobbing lures just inches from the bank.

Tomasits was searching for bass, but there’s another fish in the lake that has him and other Central Texas anglers concerned.

State and local officials released tens of thousands of Asian grass carp into Lake Austin to combat overgrown vegetation in recent years. They came. They ate. They conquered. Then they kept swimming.

“After seeing what they did to Lake Austin, I’m a little worried,” Tomasits said. “They’ve completely decimated any aquatic vegetation that was in Lake Austin. Anglers now are pretty cynical about the whole deal, and they call [Lake Austin] a mud pit.”

The invasive grass carp, which are imported sterile and grow to over 50 pounds, have now moved downstream in droves into Lady Bird Lake. Marcos De Jesus, a fisheries supervisor with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, called it a “mass migration” through the floodgates of Tom Miller Dam, which links Lake Austin to Lady Bird Lake.

Lake Austin was recognized nationally as a top bass fishing destination as recently as 2014. Since that year, vegetation coverage has dropped to zero, and the lake is no longer ranked, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department studies and Bassmaster rankings.

While De Jesus is hopeful Lady Bird Lake will remain an excellent fishing spot, many local fishermen aren’t as optimistic.
The big release

The whole problem started with the onset of exceptional drought from 2009 through 2011. As lakes Travis and Buchanan — Central Texas’ largest reservoirs — began drying up, the Lower Colorado River Authority reduced the flow downstream through a series of Central Texas dams. LCRA controls water flow and hydroelectric power from the lakes and the Colorado River down to the Gulf Coast.

Low water flow, higher-than-normal temperatures and lack of floods led to the aggressive expansion of underwater aquatic vegetation, especially hydrilla in Lake Austin. Hydrilla, a non-native weed, can grow from as deep as 20 or 30 feet to the surface.

The plants created a veritable underwater jungle. It was great for fishing and the food chain, providing habitat and hunting grounds for all manner of fish, from minnows and shad to perch and largemouth bass. But the dense mats of hydrilla also brought a new set of problems. They were dangerous to swimmers and boaters, could increase flooding and foul up power plant machinery.

De Jesus said the release of the carp was necessary to maintain safe and usable lakes. TPWD and state experts were aware the carp could move downstream at some point, he said.

“This is something I’m not trying to downplay,” De Jesus said. “It’s serious. We knew it could happen, so right now it’s more of a control situation to see how we can revert things to where it was.”

*  Story Contributed by: David Barer and Josh Hinkle


Lake Travis News

How Zebra Mussels Will Change Austin Lakes (And Maybe Barton Springs) Forever

Aug 17, 2017

1,465 Readers

Man seriously injured after 20 to 30 foot fall from cliff at Lake Travis

Aug 13, 2017

1,117 Readers

Lakeway City Park adds life jacket loaner station

Aug 11, 2017

867 Readers

Boater dies after hitting Lake Travis shoreline

Aug 1, 2017

1,269 Readers

No serious injuries after plane crashes into water at Lake Travis

Jul 22, 2017

1,251 Readers

Man injured in 30-foot fall over rocks at Hippie Hollow

Jul 15, 2017

959 Readers

Tow boat owner says plane wheels were down when it flipped into lake

Jul 13, 2017

1,109 Readers

Lady Bird Lake vegetation at risk after ‘mass migration’ of carp

Jul 11, 2017

907 Readers

Lake Travis ‘infested’ with invasive, damaging zebra mussels

Jun 27, 2017

1,000 Readers

Scuba divers scoop for lake trash after Memorial Day festivities

May 30, 2017

1,788 Readers

Here’s why you can’t swim in Lady Bird Lake. Wait — you can’t swim in Lady Bird Lake?

Aug 8, 2017

1,136 Readers

5 Ways to Try Paddleboarding in Austin

Aug 4, 2017

996 Readers

Why Is Hippie Hollow Clothing-Optional?

Jul 31, 2017

1,222 Readers

JAWS on the Water - Friday, June 30th

Jun 27, 2017

1,753 Readers

Memorial Day Weekend watercraft ban on Lake Austin

May 25, 2017

1,879 Readers

Travis County officials prep for Memorial Day weekend on Lake Travis

May 23, 2017

1,683 Readers

West Austin 4-H Offers Opportunities Beyond Just Raising Animals

Aug 9, 2016

7,436 Readers

Large Crowds Expected at Lake Travis For Holiday Weekend

Jul 1, 2016

9,272 Readers

Lady Bird Lake businesses back open for Father’s Day

Jun 19, 2016

6,875 Readers

Boats allowed back on Lady Bird Lake starting noon Thursday

Jun 16, 2016

7,611 Readers

Lake Buchanan rises nearly 8 inches due to rain

Aug 8, 2017

1,420 Readers

One floodgate open at Starcke Dam

Aug 7, 2017

1,256 Readers

Driving on RM 620, I see islands sticking out of the lake. Is the drought returning?

Jul 14, 2017

1,805 Readers

West Travis Co. residents clean up after heavy storms

Apr 3, 2017

2,327 Readers

WATCH | Possible tornado/water spout spotted on Lake Travis

Apr 3, 2017

2,913 Readers

Aerosols Strengthen Storm Clouds, According to New Study

Jun 14, 2016

7,336 Readers

National Weather Service : Why You Shouldn’t Drive During a Flood

Jun 10, 2016

7,444 Readers

LCRA will be in flood management mode for coming weeks

Jun 4, 2016

7,800 Readers

How high could Lake Travis rise near Austin?

Jun 3, 2016

7,766 Readers

LCRA stands ready as more rain is expected in Central Texas

Jun 2, 2016

8,282 Readers

City looking for help to curb storm drain pollution

Aug 5, 2017

1,216 Readers

Apache Shores features waterfront views, trails, park

Jul 14, 2017

1,014 Readers

10-year Mansfield Dam rehabilitation project will keep Austin safe

Apr 27, 2017

930 Readers

Overflowing Lake Travis isn't all bad news for businesses

Jun 8, 2016

7,184 Readers

Lake Travis High School Graduation cut short

Jun 8, 2016

7,774 Readers

A full Lake Travis boosts local businesses

May 26, 2016

7,197 Readers

Texas lake businesses booming again after long drought

May 12, 2016

9,071 Readers

Lakeway’s Schmidt Family Barbecue restaurant to shutter its doors by fall

May 11, 2016

7,333 Readers

Lake Travis Fire Rescue begins fleet overhaul

May 6, 2016

8,091 Readers

Gnarly Gar fighting to stay in new building on Lake Travis marina

Apr 19, 2016

4,806 Readers

Modern guesthouse tower adds space, views to lakeside cabin

Sep 28, 2017

729 Readers

A Striking Sanctuary in Texas Inspired by a Sand Dollar

Aug 8, 2017

1,056 Readers

Contemporary Architectural Masterpiece on Lake Austin

Jul 30, 2017

1,063 Readers

Lake Austin mansion with a Romeo and Juliet balcony, including dramatic backstory

Jul 28, 2017

842 Readers

Midcentury-modern home overlooks Lake Austin, Pennybacker Bridge

May 27, 2016

7,089 Readers

Lake Travis Waterfront Retreat Offered by Heritage Luxury Real Estate Auctions

May 18, 2016

7,375 Readers

In Lago Vista, big dreams for $68 million ranch property

May 14, 2016

7,438 Readers

This Texas Barn Mansion on Lake Travis is Out of This World

May 6, 2016

8,661 Readers

Rockmoor Estate $35 million Austin mansion up for sale

Apr 19, 2016

4,548 Readers

Windy Point is for sale!

Jan 13, 2016

5,760 Readers

News Archives 2017 - Select a Month

« December 2016  

January 2018 »