On Sept. 18, a number of individuals and organizations came together to emplace four large, artificial reefs into Belton Lake for both fish and anglers to use.
According to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s John Tibbs, the Inland Fisheries District Supervisor for the Waco Region, this was one of the largest collaborative projects TPWD had done to date in this district.
The reefs give cover-loving species like bass, crappie and sunfish places to hide in and ambush prey from. In lakes like Belton, where natural forms of cover are somewhat sparse and declining, such man-made structures attract and consolidate fish.
When asked about the design of the reefs, Tibbs stated, “We constructed and placed Georgia Cubes, which are a 4-foot by 4-foot by 4-foot frame of 1½-inch Schedule 40 PVC with 100 feet of flexible black perforated PVC drainage pipe contained within. We assembled and placed 60 Mossback “Trophy Trees,” 24 Mossback “Safe Havens” and two Mossback “Conservation Cubes.”
Project participants included Texas B.A.S.S. Nation, Tincup Whiskey, Texas Anglers Bass Club and Centex Bass Hunters volunteers, Baylor University student-volunteers, TPWD (Waco and Fort Worth District offices), the Brazos River Authority, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, King Outdoor Enterprises and Quality Brick Works.
In all, 35 volunteers, some with boats, were present to aid in the effort which began around 7 a.m. and ended around noon.
Tibbs went on to explain why this particular form of artificial habitat was chosen, saying, “Although there are many good artificial habitat structures offered, these were chosen because they were the best suited for our situation. The Georgia Cubes were partially built into sub-units, which allowed rapid assembly with the abundant labor we had available. The Mossbacks require a fair amount of assembly as well, and they worked well with the cinder blocks we had donated. Construction started around 7 a.m. and was completed in a couple hours due to the large volunteer labor force we had.”
Tibbs next shared about the extent of the project and the number of structure emplaced. Said Tibbs, “We created four fish reefs, three of them consisting of six Georgia Cubes, 15 Trophy Trees and six Safe Havens; and one consisting of five Georgia cubes, 15 Trophy Trees, six Safe Havens and two Conservation Cubes.
The GPS coordinates for the structures’ locations are as follows:
- Reef 1: N 31.14600, W 097.51780 (in the lower Cowhouse Creek and near the undeveloped Fort Hood shoreline, just upstream from the junction of Cowhouse Creek and the Leon River)
- Reef 2: N 31.14142, W 097.50919 (in the Leon River arm and near the undeveloped Fort Hood shoreline, just upstream from the junction of Cowhouse Creek and the Leon River)
- Reef 3: N 31.14196, W 097.50539 (in the Leon River arm and near the undeveloped Fort Hood shoreline, just upstream from the junction of Cowhouse Creek and the Leon River)
- Reef 4: N 31.14517, W 097.48168 (just upstream from Hybrid Island and near the Fort Hood shoreline in the Leon River arm)
Tibbs speculated about the lifespan of the structures saying, “These structures should last for many years, as there is nothing to corrode or decay. Probably decades.”
Tibbs offered some encouraging news about the bass fishery in Belton Lake, saying, “The largemouth bass fishery continues to ride the wave from the improved water conditions starting in 2015. The smallmouth bass fishery is very strong in Belton, with successful annual natural spawning providing the lion’s share of the new recruits into the population.”
He also added, “Please maintain good livewell conditions if in a tournament, and practice catch-and-release the rest of the time to maintain the unique and high quality combined largemouth/smallmouth bass fishery in Central Texas.”
Author’s note: Modern chartplotters have multiple GPS waypoint formats to choose from. To correctly plot the provided reef locations, you must make sure your unit is set to receive the format used with the GPS coordinates provided.