Drouth Provides Hidden Benefit for Some Lakes (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

Lake Travis lost considerable elevation during the drouth of the past few years.

Lake Travis lost considerable elevation during the drouth of the past few years.

Beautiful Lake Travis just west of Austin was hard hit by the recent/current drouth, dropping some 40 or so feet. But now, after two weeks of rain, sometimes torrential, the lake is on the rise, according to a Oct. 29 news article in the Austin American-Statesman by Mike Leggett.

According toTexas Parks and Wildlife biologist Steve Magnelia, when drouth drives lake levels down, the new vegetation that grows on the exposed formerly underwater areas of the lake acts to renew the lake and help fish populations once the lake refills to normal levels.
Trees, grass and bushes begin to grow on moist, exposed soils every time the lake drops a little more. As the drouth continues, the new vegetation becomes more substantial.
As the water begins to rise and spread out through the vegetation, there’s more food for small bait fish, such as shad, and more hiding places for small game fish, such as bass. Especially in the spring, spawning success increases dramatically because of the increased food supply and purer habitat for all the fish.
Fishing in the years that follow gets better and better. There are more game fish, and they will be bigger.

Largemouth Bass

Largemouth Bass

Man made lakes in Texas (not sure if there are any non-man-made lakes) are either constant-level or variable level, and Travis is a variable level lake. It is one of the series of  Hill Country lakes constructed on Texas’ Colorado River. Constant level lakes are kept at spillway level at the expense of other resources upstream, whereas variable level lakes are allowed to drop due to evaporation and to feed downstream bodies of water.

Lake Buchanan, upstream from Travis, was another hard-hit lake and it caught a little water from recent rains. The Lower Colorado River Authority administers the lakes along the Colorado.

2 Comments to “Drouth Provides Hidden Benefit for Some Lakes”

  1. By Alyssa Burgin, November 26, 2009 @ 10:47 am

    With regard to non man-made lakes in Texas, according to my sources, Caddo Lake in East Texas is the only “real” lake. That should tell us something about the nature of Texas.

  2. By Mike Mecke, December 7, 2009 @ 2:28 pm

    Alyssa, you are right about Caddo. I have always heard the same.
    I have had questions about it strictly speaking – there had to be some small spring-fed lakes and lakes formed when rivers change course – such as along the lower Rio Grande. In working on a Mitchell’s Lake (“Lago de los Patos”) on early Spanish explorers’maps of San Antonio area, I found a small lake on the maps right about where Mitchell’s is now. There were some small springs just west of the road across from ML and they probably were the source. But, we sure never were lake country like Minn. even though wet East TX would seem to have the rainfall?

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