JASPER COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Reese Sparrow is the manager of the John D. Parker East Texas State Fish Hatchery, and his work hours are about to be a little crazy.
Sparrow and his team have started spawning fish for their annual spawning season at the hatchery. The hatchery is responsible for spawning striped bass, hybrid bass, Florida large-mouth bass, and blue catfish.
"Typically we start the end of February, and it's about the first week of July, and we have stocked all the fish and started getting ready for next year," Sparrow said. "We have a goal of about 900,000 stripped bass and about 1.3 million hybrid striped bass. The fish that we stock in Rayburn is the Florida Large mouth Bass. About a half a million will go into Rayburn this year."
Sparrow and his crew started the process earlier this week when they went to Lake Livingston to gather striped bass that are used as brood fish for the process. The fry and fingerlings that are gathered from the fish will be used to stock the lakes.
"We have five hatcheries across the state, and they are strategically placed by large lakes," Sparrow said. "We will be taking the majority of these fish to the lakes up north, and then the catfish that we spawn will go to the west. They have a lot of lakes out there that are full after the rain. Before they were in a drought and now they need to be stocked."
Sparrow has been in the business for three decades and at the Jasper County facility for the past 65 years. He said the rewarding part of his job is seeing a lake full of boats catching the fish they raise.
"We don't actually get to see the immediate results for our work but 35-40 days down the line that's when we get to see what actually we accomplish when those fish get loaded up onto a truck and they go out of this gate and they get stocked into the lake," Sparrow said.
Sparrow said without their work, the economy suffers.
"We have done studies that show the fishing industry has a multi-million dollar effect on the economy so it is able to fund what we are doing," Sparrow said.
Despite being ground zero for the fishing business in the Lone Star State, Sparrow remains humble whenever he sees a near record bass caught out of the waters of Sam Rayburn.
"I'd like to take credit for that, but I can't do that," Sparrow said. "When I put these little fish in the lake, we just have really good water in the state of Texas, and it has good nutrition for the fish."
Sparrow and his team will soon start the process for breeding the blue catfish.