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Bois d’Arc, Texas’ Newest Lake, Opens For Great Fishing

Bonham: When Bois d’Arc Lake in Fannin County officially opened in April, Texas became its first significant reservoir in over 30 years. However, early results indicate anglers may also have a budding new fishing haven, thanks to a partnership between the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD).

“TPWD is incredibly grateful and appreciative of the collaborative partnership formed with NTMWD to develop Bois d’Arc Lake into a world-class fishery for Texas anglers and our visitors,” said Tim Birdsong, Director of TPWD’s Inland Fisheries Division. “NTMWD proactively engaged TPWD fisheries biologists, wildlife biologists, and game wardens in 2016 to identify shared goals and strategies for timber management, fish habitat development, fish stockings, boating access, watershed conservation, mitigation of streams and wetlands, enforcement of fishing and hunting laws, and capacity for emergency response. Outcomes achieved over the past eight years are simply remarkable.”

TPWD began stocking sunfish and minnows in 2018 during the lake’s construction. They placed the fish in four large ponds preserved by NTMWD within the lake’s footprint.

Advanced-size ShareLunker bass fingerlings arrived in the ponds in 2019, and when the lake began to hold water in 2021, stocking commenced in the reservoir’s main body, along with bluegill and channel catfish.

“So far, they have stocked 373,859 pure Florida Largemouth Bass that are direct descendants of a 13-pound or larger bass,” said Dan Bennett, Inland Fisheries Division Denison District Supervisor. “We are excited to see what sort of trophy bass we can produce from the combined productivity of a new lake and a new bass population originating from so many fish genetically selected for growth. We have already seen submissions of bass over eight pounds to the Toyota ShareLunker app.  A scale sample taken from one 9.05-pound bass should confirm if it originated from one of the original ShareLunker stockings by TPWD.”

TPWD also created gravel spawning beds and installed commercial fishing habitats and PVC cubes around the lake. TPWD is in the process of raising a few hundred button bush and bald cypress trees to plant around the shoreline this summer. These trees will provide additional coastal habitat for the fish.

NTMWD consolidated cleared trees to build over 40 large brush piles in the main lake, designed to furnish substantial fish habitats for many years. Anglers can target all of the installed habitat structures when casting a line in Bois d’Arc Lake by using TPWD’s fish habitat structure interactive map, which marks the locations.

Standing timber and aquatic vegetation, including American Pondweed and Coontail colonies that spread from ponds flooded by the lake, provide natural cover and habitat for fish.

“NTMWD did a good job compromising between providing substantial open water areas for pleasure boaters, yet still leaving about a third or more of the lake in standing timber with large boat lanes,” added Bennett. “That is going to provide excellent fish habitat for a long time.”

NTMWD developed three public access areas on the lake, which feature boat launch ramps, day-use picnic areas, and restrooms. For more information on the public access areas and Bois d’ Arc Lake, visit the official lake website.

TPWD manages Bois d’ Arc Lake with a 16-inch maximum length limit for largemouth bass. It gives the largest bass in the new lake a greater chance to reach trophy size during the first years the lake is open to fishing. They manage all other species with statewide regulations.

Anglers wishing to donate a bass over 13 lbs. to TPWD’s ShareLunker program can temporarily retain the bass in a live between January 1 and March 31. Anglers who catch bass over eight pounds are encouraged to enter their catch to the ShareLunker app and submit a scale sample to TPWD for genetic testing.

TPWD sustains quality fishing opportunities for 3.1 million freshwater anglers on Texas’ 1,100 public lakes and 191,228 miles of streams, creeks and rivers. In 2022, anglers spent an estimated $11.1 billion on food, lodging, transportation, and equipment while fishing Texas freshwater and coastal waters, and fishing supported an estimated 51,380 jobs in the state.