For Texas Parks and Wildlife Department inland fisheries biologist Dan Bennett, these are good days to be the TPWD biologist in charge at the Denison District office.
There’s Lake Texoma, where the big lake’s famed striped bass fishing — both in terms of overall numbers and trophy quality — is as good as it’s ever been following winter survey work by TPWD and their Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation counterparts.
Then there’s the task on Bennett’s plate of helping to construct a potential trophy bass fishery at the new lake being built in Fannin County, a 16,641-acre reservoir lying east of Bonham known as Bois d’Arc Lake.
But Bennett also has a dream of improving a trio of already good Community Fishing Lakes here in Grayson County, helping the 52-acre Waterloo Lake in Denison and the 45-acre Dean Gilbert Lake and 30-acre Pickens Lake in Sherman, become even better options for local anglers hoping to catch a truly big bass.
Take Waterloo, for instance, which received a stocking of more than 6,000-plus Florida bass fingerlings on Thursday afternoon, tiny one to two-inch fish that might one day help to unlock the Denison lake’s potential to produce a double-digit giant.
As TPWD inland fisheries biologists Corey Clouse and Todd Robinson stocked the small Florida bass fingerlings, Denison resident Nicky McAlester and his seven-year old son Maverick looked on and hoped that one day, such 10-pound or better trophy bass potential would indeed be the case on the lake in the middle of D-Town.
“It’s cool, I guess,” said Maverick of the stocking procedures as the fish were put into Waterloo. “It was fun watching them stock these bass.”
Bennett is having fun too, having worked hard over the last few years to get a good reading on the health of the midtown Denison fishery as well as its potential to produce quality largemouth bass.
With any luck, Thursday afternoon’s stocking of Florida bass fingerlings — a little higher in overall numbers than what had previously been advertised — will help that idea become a reality some day.
Even if the idea of a Community Fishing Lake — which are 75 acres or less in size — producing trophy sized largemouth bass isn’t all that common around the Lone Star State.
“Certainly, Waterloo is rare, as are a number of the lakes here in Grayson County, in terms of its trophy bass potential,” said Bennett. “It gets fished pretty heavily, but we want to see if we can’t improve the genetics a little bit, if we might eventually be able to broach the 10-pound mark on a fairly regular basis.”
Bennett hopes to see even more stocking work take place here in Grayson County over the next several years.
“I would also like to get some Florida bass fingerlings for Dean Gilbert and Pickens in Sherman, because like Waterloo, we know there are good fish in there too,” said Bennett, noting that rumors persist of some Texas sized lunkers occasionally being caught in those Sherman water bodies.
With the state’s newly revamped ShareLunker program — which now recognizes fish in the 8-pound, 10-pound, and 13-pound classes — Bennett is hopeful to help shine more light on these local Grayson County community fisheries over time.
“One of the major things that we need is to be able to document what the potential is here, and we can do that with the ShareLunker program, lake records, and catch-and-release records,” said Bennett.
With the Florida bass fingerlings stocked at Waterloo yesterday — fish that started the morning at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens and ended the day in D-Town — Bennett is looking forward to seeing how far the big bass envelope can be pushed on a small water body, maybe even one day resulting in a stop-the-presses kind of big bass catch by a local angler.
“It might take up to 10 years to get that far down the road, but I think getting some more bass in that five-pound plus range, that could potentially be just four or five years away,” he said.
As young Maverick and his dad Nicky looked on in Denison yesterday afternoon, they could only hope that will be the case, that their small hometown fishery will one day produce a giant Texas largemouth bass.