Fish advisory surprises residents along Lake Sam Rayburn

By Lane Luckie - bio | email

ETOILE, TX (KTRE) - Lake Sam Rayburn is Guy Nedbalek's backyard. He moved here five years ago because he loves to fish the waters of the Attoyac River. "It's quiet, it's a beautiful lake out here," he said.

But he got a phone call yesterday that could change that. His brother-in-law called to tell him, "They've put up a sign out there at Ewing Park, out by the boat ramp."

That sign in Ewing Park warns of a fish consumption advisory. "Fishing for crappie, catfish, and bass. There are going to be a lot of people affected by this," Nebalek said.

The Texas Department of Health issued a report recommending people limit the amount of largemouth bass and freshwater drum they eat from area waterways. Research showed the fish contained a significant level of mercury. The report recommends "For largemouth bass and freshwater drum, adults should limit consumption to no more than two, 8-ounce meals per month, and children should limit consumption to no more than two, 4-ounce meals per month."

Nedbalek wanted to know why the new sign is the first time he's been warned. After calling several local agencies responsible for area waterways, we learned they couldn't tell us much either. "I don't even know what the sign said. We've had several people call and ask about it. We don't know anything about the sign. We didn't know it was there until people started calling."

The state report was released almost 15 years ago, but Nedbalek worries that enough people aren't aware of the health risk. "There's going to be bass tournaments, catfish tournaments, you have all kinds of things that will be affected by this," he said.

We stopped some fisherman who didn't know about the advisory either. This wasn't their first time dropping a line in Lake Sam Rayburn. Daniel Huad said, "We drove right by and never saw [the sign]. We probably would have eaten the fish if we caught any."

Nedbalek hopes this won't affect family outings, like his own memories of fishing with his dad. "I'm just hoping that there's going to be some fishing time left in his lifetime to enjoy it," he said.

Visit the Texas Department of State Health Services- Seafood and Aquatic Life Group:

To view a copy of the report: