ZAPATA, Texas —Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologists are excited over the prospects for Falcon Reservoir. A decade ago Falcon Reservoir offered some of the best bass fishing in Texas and was a very popular destination for bass tournament anglers. Then came a 10-year drought that pulled water levels down and led to a decline in bass fishing.
Beginning in fall 2003, heavy rains in the Rio Grande watershed brought drought conditions to an end. Falcon’s water level dramatically increased, from 45 feet low in June 2003 to nearly full in summer 2004. The reservoir size swelled to about 60,000 acres. When the lake level rose, water inundated thousands of acres of brush, providing ideal habitat for young fish.
Recent TPWD surveys and fishing success at the reservoir indicate that largemouth bass are making a speedy recovery.
Results of a March 2005 bass tournament showed that Falcon is well on its way to reclaiming its reputation as a top bass fishing lake. Of the 147 teams participating, 107 brought 5-fish limits to the weigh-in with the average weight of the fish being 2.9 pounds. It took a 5-fish limit of 28.96 pounds to take first place and a fish weighing 10.6 pounds to collect the big bass award.
A TPWD Inland Fisheries electrofishing survey of Falcon in April 2005 showed a very abundant population of 7 to 12 inch largemouth bass. These fish, spawned in 2004 and 2005, experienced exceptional survival because of all the cover in the reservoir. These young bass are also growing very rapidly and should make for plenty of quality size fish to catch in years to come. Fish hatched in 2004 already average 10 inches long and should reach the 14-inch minimum length limit by spring 2006.
TPWD biologists recognized that the improved habitat conditions in Falcon would yield high stocking success, so a record number of largemouth bass were stocked in 2004 to boost natural production and improve the genetics of the population. Both Florida and northern largemouth fish were stocked. Most of the 840,000 fish were about an inch long.
In December 2004, Falcon produced its first entry into TPWD’s Budweiser ShareLunker program in nine years. This fish, caught by San Antonio resident Jerry Campos, weighed 14.28 pounds and was the largest of 24 fish entered into the program during the 2004-05 season. Some 12,000 ShareLunker offspring produced at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens were stocked into Falcon in May 2005.
Falcon Reservoir is located about three hours south of San Antonio. Although it is a long drive from most metropolitan areas in the state, Falcon is worth the trip considering the world-class largemouth bass fishing it will offer in the next few years.
Hotels, restaurants, tackle shops and boat launching can be found in the city of Zapata, which is located adjacent to the reservoir. Falcon Lake State Park (956) 848-5327, located near the dam, has campsites with electricity and water and a three-lane concrete boat ramp. More information about Falcon Reservoir can be obtained by contacting the Zapata County Chamber of Commerce (800) 292-5253 or www.zapatausa.com or by calling TPWD’s San Antonio Inland Fisheries office (210) 348-6355. – Lake Havasu
– Lake Havasu