Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

Local News

November 1, 2013

Not just another fish story

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — We may be in the fall and headed for the cool chill of winter but efforts are already well underway to offer a helping hand to Pauls Valley’s city lakes.

State officials made a recent visit to what’s best known as PV’s old city lake. The reason — to check out the status of one particular fish and its favorite food source.

Leading the group was Keith Thomas, a fisheries biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife.

Thomas is part of an ongoing effort to monitor the fish populations and habitats of lakes across the state.

“I would say fair,” Thomas said giving his overall assessment of the old city lake’s fish populations. “It’s on the rebound.

“Mother Nature does the work,” he said. “We just kind of tweak it at times. If the lake needs some help we try to do what we can.

“We plan on paying more attention to Longmire (Lake) and Pauls Valley than it’s been given in the past.”

On this particular visit Thomas and his crew used specialized equipment to look at the populations of the old lake’s sangeye fish, along with their favorite food, the shad bait fish.

Thomas described the sangeye as from the perch family with some getting up to the 5- to 6-pound range.

“They were big in this lake back in the ‘70s and ‘80s,” he said.

The assessment determined most of the sangeye populations appear limited to the Rock Point area of the lake.

According to Thomas, the shad populations have been down over the last couple of years; not surprising since lake levels dropped down because of a historically dry period during that same time period.

“The lake levels have come up at the right time for certain species,” Thomas said, adding the muddy conditions of the old lake here do limit the overall growth of fish populations.

When the time comes the state agency uses fish raised in it fisheries to repopulate fish in public lakes.

Thomas stresses these lakes are fully checked out before any new fish are dropped into the waters.

“We’ve got different gear to look at the different fish populations.”

Checking not only the fish but the habitat is something Thomas believes is especially important with many of these man-made lakes across the state.

As for Pauls Valley’s old city lake, it was constructed back in the 1950s.

The attention being given to the lake is something city employee Darren Jennings believes people need to know about.

“People need to know the Wildlife Department is working on this lake and has an actual goal,” Jennings said.

One thing that is new for the lake is the fact it’s now being included in what’s called a state record program.

This program recognizes anglers and the big fish they catch and the lake where those catches take place.

Jennings is now registered as an official representative of the program.

He serves as a kind of caretaker for both municipal lakes in Pauls Valley.

“This recognizes anglers if they catch fish at a local lake,” Jennings said. “Anything open to the public is fair game.”

Specifically it recognizes those catching big sport fish. The way to do that is have the catch registered by Jennings.

Put simply, Jennings needs to verify the catch at the old city lake bait shop. From there the catch can then be listed online.

“Some big catches from Longmire are already in the system,” he said.

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