by Joshua Flores
It’s a common complaint. Students are often heard saying there’s nothing to do around Levelland. But those who say that, may not know what’s hiding nearby under the surface at either Brashear Lake or Lobo Lake: fish. And a lot of them.
Now might be a great time to grab a pole, a fishing license, and reel in dinner.
“It’s a great time to be out there right now,” says Dustin Reichelt, director of parks and cemetery for the City of Levelland.
Every winter the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department stocks both Brashear Lake and Lobo Lake with trailer loads of Rainbow Trout. This December, Reichelt says, both lakes were stocked with about 1200 – 1400 trout per lake. The fish were supplied by the Possum Kingdom Fish Hatchery, says Reichelt.
“Right now we only stock once a year and we do that in December, but next year we are looking at doing more stockings with the popularity of the sport,” says Reichelt. The trout stocking schedule for the 2020-2021 season should be posted on the T.P.W.D. website in mid-November.
Why trout? Any why in the winter time?
As Reichelt explains, the main game fish in this area, catfish and bass, get slow in the winter time. Rainbow Trout prefer cold water. So Reichelt says the state started stocking fishing locations with trout in the winter several years ago to give fishermen in Texas an opportunity to fish without leaving the state.
“So it brings more people to our parks in the winter time that otherwise wouldn’t be there,” Reichelt says.
According to the T.P.W.D. website, from December to March, the T.P.W.D. stocks trout in more than 100 locations in Texas.
But the T.P.W.D. website specifis, “In spring and summer most Texas waters are too warm to provide suitable habitat for rainbow trout.”
So since this is late April, is it already too warm to catch trout at Brashear Lake or Lobo Lake? Hard to say. But maybe not yet, according to Reichelt, if you act fast.
“As of a couple of weeks ago people were still catching them,” Reichelt says.
He explains that the surface water is probably a lot warmer than the lower levels. So in early spring, fishermen would probably find trout, bass, and catfish. He says Brashear Lake and Lobo Lake were stocked with catfish in September.
“As of right now, you’d have a chance of catching all of these,” Reichelt says.
But be aware, warm weather is on the way. Once the entire lake temperature reaches 70 degrees, Reichelt says, that’s lethal for the trout.
Even if the temperatures creep too high for the trout, Reichelt says you won’t find a bunch of dead fish out on the water.
“Once the water hits about 65 degrees the trout start becoming sluggish because they’re at their maximum limit. Most of the time, bass, catfish, and turtles will eat them before they die. But if they’re not, then they’ll die and then buzzards or other turtles will eat them,” Reichelt says.
In general, the T.P.W.D. stocks even more kinds of fish each year in more places and for a lot of reasons. According to fish stocking reports, which are available on the T.W.P.D. website, each year the Inland and Coastal Fisheries divisions of the T.P.W.D. restock approximately 40 million fish in public lakes, ponds, and saltwater bays. The listed goals of restocking the fish range from promoting biodiversity to providing catchable-size fish for educational activities and community fishing lakes.
The trout in Brashear Lake and Lobo Lake are catch and keep for up to five fish per day per person, according to Reichelt.
But before you head to one of the lakes to reel a big one in, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First of all, don’t forget to get a fishing license. The state of Texas requires people age 17 and older have a fishing license before they fish for anything in the lake. Anyone can purchase a fishing license on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department website. They’re also available at most sporting goods stores. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services report that over 2.2 million fishing licenses were purchased in 2019.
Secondly, the current COVID-19 situation is something to consider. The T.P.W.D. website reminds people to practice social distancing even when outdoors. It also suggests that if people plan to venture out of the area, they should check the status of the location they’re planning to visit because some public recreation facilities and water access points may be limited.
And finally, with the weather getting warmer, your chances of hooking a trout are almost gone. But neither Brashear Lake nor Lobo Lake are going anywhere soon. And fishing is still something to do year-round. The catch-of-the-day just may not be trout anymore. Instead, bass or catfish will be on your dinner menu.