Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   



Easier Access, Better Habitat Coming Soon

TPWD program targets boat launches, piers, shorelines.


 Earl Nottingham | TPWD

Pro bass anglers in fancy boats with lots of gear are definitely at the top of the Texas fishing game, but many of us just like to grab a rod and reel and head to the closest fishing hole. We’re here to help! A new Texas Parks and Wildlife Department program is expanding access to fishing holes.

The new TPWD Habitat and Angler Access Program awards competitive grants that will increase and improve access to banks and shores on waterways throughout the state. The habitat component ensures that fish will thrive in these areas.

The program, a cooperative effort between TPWD biologists and local partners and primarily funded by the purchase of freshwater fishing licenses, launched in June 2021. More than 20 projects are already in the works.

“We anticipate these projects will be successful for increasing fishing access, expanding and restoring crucial habitat for important fish populations, as well as developing and fostering partnerships with local partners who can benefit from this new program in the future,” says Michael Homer, Abilene District fisheries biologist and HAAP coordinator.

HAAP grants (up to $50,000) support individual fish habitat improvement and angler access projects on public ponds, large reservoirs, creeks and rivers. These projects include fishing piers, underwater dock lighting, bank and shoreline stabilization, jetties, erosion control features, native plant restoration, artificial fish attractors, dredging and boat launches for kayaks, canoes and other nonmotorized watercraft.

The first round of projects is expected to be completed by summer of 2023. More will follow.

Find out if there’s one in your area here.

Here are just a few of the first projects you’ll be enjoying soon.

Flatrock Project on the South Llano River

This project, conducted in partnership with the Llano River Watershed Alliance, will repair damage from floods and erosion, improving habitat and access to the beautiful, spring-fed South Llano River. The project will stabilize and restore native riparian vegetation along 200 feet of shoreline on a section of the river supporting numerous Guadalupe and largemouth bass, catfish and several species of sunfish.

For river enthusiasts, there’ll be an improved access loop for vehicles and an access trail for paddlers and anglers at the Flatrock takeout for the South Llano River Paddling Trail.

“This habitat restoration and angling access improvement project will be an important component of TPWD’s ongoing investments in landscape-scale conservation in the Llano River watershed,” says TPWD program coordinator Ryan McGillicuddy. “The site will be an excellent complement to the network of paddling trails and leased public access sites established by TPWD, serving anglers targeting a number of sport fish, including a recently restored Guadalupe bass population.”

The South Llano River contains a variety of water types, including quiet pools, riffles and runs. Be sure to take along fishing gear and binoculars on the paddling trail to try for the abundant state fish of Texas, the Guadalupe bass, and to watch birds and other wildlife.

The clean, clear waters are unrestrained by flood-control dams or other manmade structures along this stretch of river, so rainfall runoff may create temporary high flows and undesirable water quality conditions. 


   Dustin Doskocil

Lake Wichita Kayak Launch

A new ADA-accessible kayak launch will increase paddling access on Lake Wichita, expand angling programs and support veteran rehabilitation programs. For this project, multiple partners are involved, including the Lake Wichita Revitalization Committee.

“Kayaking has become very popular at Lake Wichita for anglers and paddling enthusiasts,” says Wichita Falls district fisheries biologist Robert Mauk. “The lake being rather shallow makes it perfect for paddling sports. It allows kayak/canoe anglers access to some of the best fishing locations. The addition of a kayak launch will fill a great need for paddlers and anglers alike.”

Lake Dunlap Habitat Improvements 

East of New Braunfels, Lake Dunlap has historically supported abundant and healthy sport fish populations (including a renowned largemouth bass population), providing excellent angling opportunities and diverse recreational use.

However, in May 2019, the dam gate structure failed, reducing the lake’s water level down to the original Guadalupe River channel. The dam will be repaired and lake refilled over the next two years, creating a prime opportunity to implement in-lake structural habitat restoration and enhancement.

Working with multiple partners to implement this project, TPWD aims to restore fisheries through shoreline and structural habitat enhancements throughout the lake, which will then be stocked with recreationally important fish species like largemouth bass, catfishes and sunfish.

“We are really excited about the Lake Dunlap project and what it means for the local community and our anglers,” says TPWD project coordinator Greg Binion. “Lake Dunlap is a favored outdoor destination for many Texans and has a rich history. We’re pleased to work with various project partners to restore the fisheries and aquatic habitat in this recreational gem.”

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