Low lakes could affect 300 fishing tournaments, ETX economy

Lynn Atkinson, Zavalla fishing guide
Lynn Atkinson, Zavalla fishing guide

ZAVALLA, TX (KTRE) - Right now Lake Sam Rayburn sits 13.5 feet below its normal level. Lake levels are especially important because the reservoir is home to 300 fishing tournaments each year.

The drought isn't keeping anglers from venturing out, but Zavalla fishing guide Lynn Atkinson says it is creating problems.

"It scares a lot of people because they're not used to seeing it this low and they don't know where they can run."

However a month of above-average rain brings hope that conditions will improve.

"Don't think we'll see a full level but I think we'll get up to about 8 feet," said Atkinson.

Electronic charts and other technology minimize the chances of unexpectedly running into shallow water.

"You can adjust the shading from blue to white and adjust for the depth of water that we lost."

The state's largest lake isn't lacking fish. Atkinson said water levels are low enough in points where fisherman can see what they're trying to catch.

"You can see so much more that you're not going to see. People haven't seen this in many, many years and a lot of it is habitat where the fish hang out."

With the local economy counting on 20 to 30 thousand dollars annually, protecting the reservoir is vital.

"The lake brings in a lot of money to the area this lake is an essential for the area fishing and tourism is an industry and we really need to keep these lakes open."

Even if you're a regular, like Atkinson, he says everyone should be aware of changing surroundings.

"Always check to see what your level is so you know. Know much water you have in a lake and make the adjustments to that level," said Atkinson.

With a little time and consistent rainfall, the 114,000 acre lake will return what most people recognize as its former glory.

Despite the drought, parks and wildlife officials say Largemouth Bass are typically found in shallow waters during the winter months.

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