Fishing for Habitat in Texas

Fisheries biologists and local organizations in Texas work together to supplement degraded natural fish habitat in aging reservoirs with long-lasting, environmentally friendly artificial fish attractors. These fish attractors help increase the production and catch rates of popular sport fish by providing cover and food sources for a variety of fish species. Learn how to improve your catch rates by locating and targeting these fish attractors at reservoirs around the state.

As reservoirs age, natural fish habitat is degraded by siltation, loss of vegetation and breakdown of woody habitat. Without that habitat, it can be a challenge for anglers to locate fish. To supplement the degrading natural habitat, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) Inland Fisheries division works with Friends of Reservoirs organizations and other partners to install artificial fish attractors to concentrate fish and increase angling success at reservoirs statewide.

The fish attractors placed by TPWD fisheries biologists are marked with buoys and GPS coordinates, notated on a map and made available for download on the department’s website. Website information also includes the type of fish attractors, the species they attract, and a description of the location. Anglers can use GPS in conjunction with a fish finder or simply find the spots on the map to locate these structures at more than 45 reservoirs – with new locations being added regularly.

Although many fish attractors are placed in strategic locations accessible by boat and kayak anglers, in many reservoirs fish attractors are also placed around and under fishing piers and within casting distance of the shoreline to help attract fish for shoreline anglers. Anglers can also find pier and shoreline fish attractors at several Texas State Parks, the only public waters in Texas where anglers can fish without a license.

Artificial fish attractors come in a variety of shapes and materials to benefit different fish species. The majority of the fish attractors placed in Texas reservoirs are commercially produced structures made from recycled PVC and plastics, but in some cases fisheries biologists construct custom structures from found or donated materials like buckets, concrete, PVC pipe, plastic tubing and recycled Christmas trees and brush. Each structure is unique in its design, height and complexity of limbs providing cover for fish ranging in size from small bait fish to larger bass, crappie and catfishes.

By comparing creel surveys conducted before and after placing the artificial structures, fisheries biologists found a substantial increase in the amount of sport fish being caught by anglers. Anglers can use the species descriptions on the TPWD website to tailor their bait and lure choices and increase their chances of success even further.

Anglers can also support the expansion of habitat enhancement in other Texas reservoirs. Every purchase of a TX fishing license provides funding to pay for these materials.

Aubry Buzek

Aubry Buzek

Aubry Buzek is a press officer at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in Austin, Texas. Her primary duties include media relations and social media support for the Inland Fisheries division, which is responsible for managing the state's diverse freshwater fisheries resources and providing the best possible angling while protecting and enhancing freshwater aquatic resources.