FLT Flash Fishing Report
Lake and Zapata area dining and lodging information, Falcon
March 8, 2011: Well believe it or not, I heard that our county park, that has been in the works for years, is actually about to get started. And it is about time.
And the only reason I have to believe that the story is credible is because I spoke with the contractor who is going to build it. That was a week ago ad he said it would two weeks or so till they break ground. So I figure that in a month or so it could actually get going.
Other than that not a lot of things have happened in Zapata that relates to fishing or accoutrements therefore related. Except that the fishing has been insane.. There's always that..
August 5, 2009: The local park at our county boat ramp is still just that.. A boat ramp. Last weekends "Whiskers and Tails" tournament sure could have used a facility for the two hundred some odd kids we had attend the event.. Maybe one day something will be done with that nice piece of property.
May 30, 2009: It's been about a year since I have updated this page, and for good reason.. Nothing worth mentioning has occurred with the new park or with any new entities that may have some impact on what tournaments, events, etc. that may come to town. The Chamber is about the same as it always has been. The Convention and Visitors Bureau has not blossomed, and we seem no more organized than a year ago. That's my opinion.
They still have not started construction of the new park and facility at the County Boat Ramp, that they promised a year ago.. Those Politicians love to rush out for a Photo Op and then nothing happens.. Status Quo. I am gonna start reporting on when things are finished.. Not when they are promised.. We need a decent facility in the worst way. Maybe some day.
June 26, 2008: There are a few happenings around Zapata that are worth mentioning. There is a new Park going in at the county boat ramp area, and construction is supposedly going to start before the end of this year. It will be a welcome site here in Zapata as there are few recreational choices for family destinations locally.. If it is built as planned it should be a great facility..
The Local Chamber of Commerce is in rebuilding mode, and it is on a day to day basis at present. There are rumors of a new tourist and visitors bureau I the works. I am sure these entities will be competing for funding, if indeed the new organization is formed. There will be no Legends tournament this summer. I the past this has been billed as the signature event of the local Chamber. Hopefully it will be back next year.
From what I understand there will be a FLW event in the Spring, and BASS has a proposal in place with the Chamber for 2009 and 2010. These Bass events are not contracted as of now.. Stay tuned.. There is a Top Fifty shootout that the FLW is putting on here in November. It will feature the top fifty Pros and CO-anglers for this year.
January 15, 2008: I had a nice long talk this morning with Carlos Rubenstein, the US watermaster for the Rio Grande, and the Dams at Amistad and Falcon. He said that it is MEXICO, and not the US that is responsible for the dramatic drop in water level at Falcon.
It sounds like the same old song and dance... He said that in fact the United States releases are much higher from Amistad than from Falcon. He also said that Mexico and the US have large reserves in Amistad, but Mexico has not chosen to replenish the water it has released from Falcon, with water from Amistad. And he said that we could be in for some big drops in the lake levels if some rain is not forthcoming. We are sitting at 284.35, and he will not be too worried till we hit about 272.. That's when we are 29 feet low..
I find it amusing that Mexico decided to repay their water debt to the US last year when their reservoirs could hold no more. It is also interesting to know that Don Martin Reservoir (above the Salado) is also at full pool or above. I guess this is what we call friendly co-operation between neighboring countries. Heck.. We're bound to have this drug trafficking problem cured real soon...
I have come to understand that Mexico just does not care about the water level in Falcon, as long as the ranchers cattle have enough to drink. Because when you think about it, what industry or business does the lake support in Mexico that a river couldn't?? As long as there is enough water to sustain the farmers and the cities along the way, they just don't care about the lake level.
And I am sure the netting business is not a multi-Zillion dollar industry.. And I don't want to get started on that topic.. Maybe tomorrow..
So now you understand.. A long as there is some water in the lake, the Mexicans think there is enough water in the lake. Meanwhile mud banks and sunburned fry are the order of the day.. Why ain't I used to it..
March 23, 2007:Randy Myers Biologist for Falcon with Inland Fisheries stopped by the store to report that 10,000 white bass fry were stocked in the lake as a result of the first hatch from the new white bass hatchery program. Problems inherent in the hatchery program reduced the number of availlable fry from 2 million to 10,000 fry. Well they are to be comended for making an effort to initiate a program.The lake has been without a white bass population for 5 or 6 years.
27, 2006 - Falcon restocking of decimated species by TPW not in the cards unless
their hands are slapped by
Sunday the San Antonio Express news quoted Inland Fisheries Durocher as saying
Falcon would not be stocked with open water
For years, we have requested
the help of State Legislators, local officials and the Governor, It has done no
good so far, TPW has doubled
to the implication in the above article, we feel that a million fingerlings each
of all three species (White Bass,
Falcon continues to function without the benefit of White Bass, an acceptable Crappie fishery or a healthy population of Northern Strain Largemouth Bass as a direct result of TPWD Inland Fisheries refusal to address these issues in violation of their own mission statement. Continued pressures on all species of fish from illegal netting requires a constant vigilance and restocking to maintain our fishery for all species. For these reasons and refusals by TPWD to address these and other serious concerns/issues, we have ask that 1)TPWD be subjected to an investigation of its policies and practices, 2) that Zapata County file a 10 million Dollar lawsuit against TPWD and the State of Texas for lost revenues associated with the losses of these species and 3)that enforcement be increased to control the rampant illegal netting by passing a County Ordinance imposing stiff fines and jail time for violation, doubling on each successive incident.
Having been unsuccessful with our approach through the Governor's Office (our protest was answered by an aide and forwarded to TPWD Executive Director for response) we have notified our Legislators of the concerns and ramifications and requested their help in effecting this investigation. A copy of this appeal follows. We trust that other Falcon supporters will make a similar appeal to their respective legislators on behalf of Falcon Lake. We also presented a request for action including adoption of an ordinance to the Zapata Commissioner's Court on February 13, 2006. (Read Operation Pescador Comments below).
3/9/06 Communiqué to Senator Judith Zaffirini and Representative Ryan Guillen As our elected politicians, you should be aware of the protest of TPWD inaction to the Governor via copies we have provided you on the decimation of multiple Falcon species. I am sorry to say it has done absolutely no good to contact the Governor about the sorry state of affairs in TPWD's management of our fishery. All the Governor has done in response to our urgent appeal for an investigation is to have an assistant forward the complaint to Robert Cook, the TPWD Executive Director of the agency we are requesting be investigated, for comment.
The stated TPWD Mission is "To manage and conserve the natural and cultural resources of Texas and to provide hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation opportunities for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations." How have they done?
The white bass and crappie populations have been decimated and no longer exist in fishable quantities. The loss of fishing related revenues to the businesses of Zapata has been well in access of a million dollars a year and closer to two million. For 5 years we have had no white bass and a very minimal crappie fishery as well. The Northern Strain Blacks which were once prevalent have crossed with Florida's and we no longer have any pure Northern Bass except for the paltry approximate 200,000 fry that were stocked several years ago. The reason this is significant is because Northern strain bass are known to bite in spite of the weather where as big Florida's do not bite well during cold font conditions. The loss of these species has dramatically reduced the fishermen, the number of fishing camps and host parks able to survive and their tenants have moved to other reservoirs.
As a result, the revenues formerly received from their stays in Zapata have been lost. This together with a doubling of nonresident licenses fees have affected our ability and the ability of businesses dependent on the lake economy to survive. We have called for stocking by TPWD of a million of each species a year for five years and a regulation change to protect the species while they recover. We have received 174 white bass, 174,000 Northern Strain bass fry and 1500 crappie total. We have also called for regulation changes to protect our large fish including bass and catfish, but instead TPW encourages removal through programs like Share Lunker, which has resulted in the loss of the big fish through death or relocation and rarely if ever (at least at Falcon) results in a stocking of lunker's fry in the reservoir. The Share Lunker program, like most of the TPW programs, is designed to keep bureaucrats employed not help the host fisheries. The last two fish submitted to Share Lunker from Amistad (New lake record Feb 2006) and Falcon (14.28 lbs Dec 2004) have both expired under Share Lunker program management. The third bass submitted by Terry Stal has not produced any benefit to Falcon.
Now they are talking about deregulating catfish and making bow hunting of them legal. Trapping and netting of catfish is practiced in Mexico and the big catfish in the Rio Grande have already been decimated. We presently have only bass and catfish left to attract tourists. They need to be protected and not opened to inevitable extinction. We urgently solicit your help in investigating the depth of TPWD failures to protect our fishery,
Operation Pescador Announced 2/22/2006: Game Wardens from across Texas gathered at Falcon to announce Operation Pescador, or what they referred to as a "concentrated effort to stop Falcon's illegal commercial fishing and prevent water safety violations, as well as to enforce other State Laws". They announced it as a coordinated effort with other agencies including the Zapata County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Border Patrol, US Customs, Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas Homeland Security. We question why none of these other agencies were present to jointly announce the initiative if, in fact, it is to be implemented jointly? Could it be this is just a knee-jerk response to what TPW's spokesman referred to as TPW's having coming under criticism for inadequate efforts being expended in control of netting? Is it possible when they refer to coordinating with these other agencies, they mean something else? Letters to the Governor and Legislators by yours truly and others, the cessation of Texas License issuance by Falcon Lake Tackle (with no support by competitors) in protest of lost species and poor enforcement, and Falcon Lake Tackle's request for a 10 million dollar lawsuit by Zapata County against the State of Texas and TPW to compensate for lost fishing revenues associated with the loss of species were called for in the February 13 Commissioner' Court. This or similar objections to inadequate efforts may have been the criticism that prompted action. We hope so, but whatever the cause, the action they outlined is needed and if it changes the situation, it is sincerely appreciated.
Congressman Ryan Guillen was present to kick off the initiative so his presence gives us some hope that this is a real change in direction and not just in rhetoric. The opposing candidate for County Judge position Rosalva Guerra, one of the Commissioners, the Justice of the Peace from Precinct 3 Juan Guevara, the Chamber and a number of County notables were present, but David Morales, the County Judge was conspicuously absent. Could this be symptomatic of his belief that this is not a problem worthy of his or the County's attention? Or maybe he was just too busy.
On February 13 at the time of my presentation to Commissioner's Court, the Judge dismissed my request for emergency action through issuance of an ordinance that would outlaw netting, thereby enabling the Sheriff'd Department to also arrest violators, The call for Commissioner's action providing funding to support appointment of 6 Sheriff's deputies plus equipment and to provide for additional control of illegal netting and coordination of enforcement with the US Border Patrol, Game Wardens and Homeland Security met with no positive acceptance. In response to my request he replied with a non-relvant response, " The Game Wardens are reporting the results of their efforts to me daily".
I responded that "we are only controlling about 10 percent of the netting problem at present". There were no questions raised about the issue or my recommendations. I would say the motion died for want of a second, but that would be an exaggeration of its acceptance. None of the Commissioner's seemed to react much to the recommendation. It was, as they say, like unrequited love and a death of quiet desparation. I will try to find someone who is willing to sponsor the ordinance on Commisioner's Court and present it again in a simplified form. In the interim, we will give Operation Pescador an opportunity to develop. As I always say and as the big bird believes, Never Give Up!
Presented 2-13-06 Commissioner's Court ORDINANCE-ILLEGAL NETTING ENFORCEMENT:
I appear today representing over 400 fishermen in the Save Falcon Lake Association (SFLA) who while not present, no longer wish to remain unheard. On behalf of these fishermen who consist of tournament anglers, local and visiting fishermen, I am asking the Commissioner's Court to approve a resolution and ordinance which would make illegal netting in Zapata County waters on the US side of the lake a crime. I am asking that violation of this ordinance and conviction will carry a mandatory fine of $1,000 and 30 days in jail plus confiscation and forfeiture of the boat, motors and apparatus seized. I would further request that the fines and sentences be doubled for each successive infraction by the same fishermen and that the fine be increased to a maximum of $10,000 and 300 days in jail for the 10th consecutive violation and each violation thereafter by the same person plus forfeiture of each and ever boat, motor and apparatus seized. Only by making the violation of this ordinance so expensive and undesirable will we ever be able to affect any control over this practice. Only by staffing the enforcement function with adequate numbers of personnel which TPW has been unable and/or unwilling to do for 36 years will we ever control this activity which has escalated to the worst level it has been since I first visited Falcon in 1970.
One species of fish (the white bass) that brought millions in revenues to the Zapata economy has been totally obliterated and not addressed effectively by TPW regulation or stocking. Another species (crappie) has been seriously impaired. TPW enforcement failures, regulation failure and the drought were all responsible for the damage. In spite of doubling license fees and escalating revenues, the fishery for these species remains seriously impaired to non-existent. Five years of prizes in TPW's own OPEC tournament have gone unclaimed due to the obliteration of the white bass fishery. RV Parks that once numbered in the mid-100 level in Zapata have shrunk to a handful. This week another major RV Park (Sunset Villa) announced it was closing having sold to private interests. The downward spiral continues. As far as protesting TPW enforcement failures, we have initiated that process through an urgent appeal sent to the Governor and our State Legislators asking for an investigation. of TPW. We have thus far received little more than recognition of our concern. We have stopped issuing Texas Licenses and removed the TPW License equipment in protest requiring over 1000 license purchasers to find another source.
Other Action's Requested of Zapata Commissioner's Court:
The Commissioner's Court should demonstrate their dissatisfaction with TPW efforts
by threat of filing a 10 million dollar lawsuit against the State of Texas and
TPW for fisheries destruction and associated lost revenues in Zapata County.
Lake Lodging News: Zapata
has a New Bed and Breakfast referred to as the "Bird and Breakfast"
Recently a Yucatan Jay was sighted in San Ignacio which is the first known sighting in the US,
Located at 14 th and Kennedy Streets, they can be reached at 956-373-1080. Their website is www.seedeaterinn.com
Falcon Lake Tackle Reponse re: TPW's Answer to the Urgent Appeal by Falcon Lake Tackle to the Governor:
As Governor, when someone sends you an urgent appeal asking for investigation
of a flawed bureaucracy with failed policies and highly incompetent, over-compensated
bureaucrats, it really serves no purpose to forward it to the head of the agency
that is being mismanaged for response. Mr. Cook of the TPWD distorts or misstates
all but the most obvious facts in his response and is totally wrong about everything
except the information he cites that the Black Bass fishing is good at Falcon.
This is, however, thanks to Mother Nature and not through the efforts of Mr. Cook
or anyone in his agency.
ADDENDUM TO PERRY LETTER
Recently we requested the Governor of this State investigate the ineffectiveness of TPWD and their failed policies. The Governor, who has yet to raise a hand to help Falcon, (in his multiple years of Governor and despite numerous requests) in his infinite wisdom sent the Urgent Appeal to the TPW Executive Director for comment. Although Cook's response is permeated by misstatements, half-truths and gross exaggerations that we have responded to in summary form, one of the statements he makes cannot be ignored. Cook states, and I quote, that "TPWD staff has worked more on Falcon Reservoir in the past year, then they have in past years and a creel survey has been initiated this month.". Cook might do well to note the following TPW failures at Falcon:
STOCKING PROGRAM: Not one crappie, not one white bass and not one black bass (Northern Strain) has been stocked this year. Nor has one blue catfish, not one yellow catfish and not one channel cat. Neither have sunfish. We requested a minimum of a million each, but not one fish has been stocked despite millions of fish being removed by fishermen and illegal netters.
FACILITIES DEVELOPMENT: Not one facility has been added to Falcon by TPW this year, not rest rooms, not boat ramps and not handicapped facilities as called for and requested in TPW's own surveys going back to the 90's and our letters.
REGULATION CHANGES: Not one policy/regulation change has been implemented. Our white bass and crappie still have a 10-inch length limit and 25 per day with a 2 day possession limit when there are none. Our large black bass despite their depletion are still unprotected and the TPW Regulations are still not published in Spanish despite the fact that we have the one of the largest Spanish speaking population of nearly any state in the nation. All of these were called for and no attention has been given nor action taken.
VEGETATION PROGRAM: No vegetation program has been implemented although promised for years and nothing , but excuses have been provided.
ENFORCEMENT: Enforcement remains out of control as it has for most of the last two decade (and definitely in 2005-6) with 3 budgeted FTE's and no positions staffed with full time and visibly effective wardens. We need a minimum of 8, not three and the border 2 of which appear to be not here and border control, TPW and homeland security priorities need to be integrated. Heres an idea; spend some of the license money on something besides paper shuffling.
SURVEYS: Effective surveys like the ones conducted and documented by written reports in the 90's when 80-90 CPUE numbers were reported have been replaced by surveys where 10 CPUE numbers were obtained and the recommendations.conclusions of their own Biologist's are ignored. Having failed to depict acceptable results, written reports have been discontinued. TPW's "If you can't see it it does not exist" does nothing to change the facts. The Falcon fishery for most all species except Florida bass has been decimated. Yet TPW responses deal only with Florida's, on which Mother Nature has smiled. The flawed water treaty, the care-less decisions by Mexico and the failures of TPW to develop and administer valid policies and regulations is at fault. The only way that Cook's statement that more has been done this year than in past years could be true is if nothing was in fact done in past years. But then again, maybe that is what he meant?
Read the TPWD COOK Response
Read the Governor's Referral to TPWD COOK
Read Our URGENT APPEAL Below
Governor Rick Perry
Senator Judith Zaffirini Representative
December 30, 2005
Once again as we prepare to close 2005, I must request an investigation into the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department TPWD and the multiple failures of their current Administration. We have no game wardens assigned to Zapata County for enforcement against illegal netting or enforcement of other game laws. Our fishery is being decimated by rampant illegal netting. We are seeing License fees increased yearly by TPWD (almost doubled in some cases like non-resident licenses ($30 to $55 dollars) while nothing is being done to improve or protect our resources.
Our white bass and crappie fisheries have been decimated and their loss has cost Zapata County businesses millions of dollars in annual fishing revenues. Northern strain bass have crossed with Florida strain bass and no longer exist in fishable numbers. Florida bass are the most difficult to catch and the large bass bite slows down to a CRAWL ANYTIME A WEATHER CHANGE OCCURRS. We have requested a million fingerlings of each of the above species be stocked for five years to replenish the population and we have been ignored.
Even more important is the implementation of steps as outlined herein that will protect our spawns so fish can reproduce naturally. Mexico made a rapid draw down of a large amount of water last year in March and April, resulting in the annihilation of a large portion of our spawn. Only the early spawn survived. A new Water Treaty that protects Falcon has been called for and ignored. We have never been approved for a vegetation program at Falcon as promised in the now 5 year past Summit. Grass carp stocked by Mexico continue to eat the small amount of vegetation in Falcon making it easier for netters to pillage our game fish.
Fortunately the brush that grew during low lake levels provides some cover, but not enough. Only Mother Nature has provided any relief to Falcon. The TPWD. The U.S.State Department, the President nor the Federal and State politicians have helped Falcon at all. The local Zapata County Administration is not even on the radar screen. The time for implementation of a collective program to help Falcon survive is now. Please give this your serious consideration.
Falcon Lake Tackle
WHO CAN I CONTACT TO COMPLAIN ABOUT FALCON ISSUES? Your question is answered!A complete list of all addresses and parties is contained and can be viewed by SCROLLING TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS SECTION "Quick Glance List"
TPW Numbers to report illegal activities and netting: The direct line 24 hour number for the Zapata Region's TPW enforcement Office in Austin where you can report illegal activity is 1-281-842-8100. Please contact them immediately when you observe any illegal netting activity. The Operation Game Thief number is 1-800-792-1122. TPW says they are filling in with wardens from other counties, but while netters were viewed openly violating the law, no Wardens have been observed anywhere on the lake for sometime. When you call the Sheriff's dispatcher you are told to call Austin The Rio Grande Starr County Game Warden is Wayne Shorts and his number is 956-330-9220.. ROBERT COOK IS THE DIRECTOR OF TEXAS TPW The main no for TPW is 1-800-792-1112 His address is 4200 Smith School Road Austin Tx 78744
Let him know how dissatisfied we are with TPW fisheries management and enforcement and let the Governor and your Senator and Representative know as well. Ask them to conduct an investigation of TPW's ineffectiveness.
The following are State Contacts to request an investigation of TPW failed policies and practices:
Governor Rick Perry: P.O. Box 12428 Austin, TX 78711-2428 (512) 463-2000
Citizen's Assistance Hotline: 1-800-843-5789
Condoleezza Rice Secretary
of State: U.S. Department of State Washington D.C. 20520 Replaced Colin
Powell Jan 2005 Mailing address: U.S. Department of State 2201 C St. NW Washington,
DC 20520 Telephone 202-647-4000 E-Mail: http://contact-us.state.gov/
http://www.senate.gov/ & http://www.house.gov/
Quick Glance Contact List
Honorable George W. Bush
Rice Secretary of State U.S. Department of
State Washington D.C. 20520 Replaced Colin Powell Jan 2005 Mailing address:
U.S. Department of State 2201 C St. NW Washington, DC 20520 Telephone 202-647-4000
County Judge David Morales P.O. Box 99 Zapata, TX 78076 956-765-9920
Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez Box 2311 Zapata, TX 78076 956-765-9960
Henry Cuellar: 1404 Longworth
House Office Building, Washington D.C. 20515
Honorable Representative Ryan Guillen Representative Ryan Guillen
Honorable Senator Judith Zaffirini 1407 Washington Street P.O. Box
627 Laredo, TX 78042 (956) 722-2293, Fax
The Honorable Greg Abbott Office of the Attorney General PO Box 12548 Austin, TX 78711-2548
The Honorable Governor Rick Perry P.O. Box 12428 Austin, TX 78711-2428 (512) 463-2000 Citizen's Assistance Hotline: 1-800-843-5789
The Honorable Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison 284 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510-4304 202-224-5922 email: hutchison.senate.gov/email.html
The Honorable Senator John Cornyn 517 Hart Senate Office Building,United States Senate Washington, DC 20510-4305 202-224-2934 202-228-2856 fax cornyn.senate.gov/contact/index.html
Boundary and Water Commission 4171 North Mesa Suite C-310 El Paso, TX 79902-1441
Parks and Wildlife Department Philip P. Durocher
Inland Fisheries Director 4200 Smith School Road Austin, TX 78744 firstname.lastname@example.org
512-389-4643 Texas Parks and Wildlife Department District 1 D, Biologist 134 Braniff
Dr. San Antonio, TX 78216-3392 Randy Myers 210-348-6355
Randy.Myers@tpwd.state.tx.us ;Texas Parks and Wildlife Enforcement-Local Game
Wardens-Contact Martin Oviedo@956-500-2651or Marshall Davidson@956-500-2650Sheriff
Office Dispatch 765-9960 and request callback.Area Enforcement Supervision - Captain
Chris Huff Law Enforcement District 3 PO Box 277 Hebbronville TX 78361-
Major Albert Gonzales 210-348-7375 (Huff's
Carlos Rubenstein, Watermaster 1804 West Jefferson Ave Harlingen, Tx 78550 1-800-609-1219 or 956-430-6019
Mario Jorge - Texas Highway Department, Pharr District Engineer 600 West US 83 Expressway P.O. Drawer EE Pharr, TX 78577-1231
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality-Austin Headquarters Main Switchboard: 512/239-5500 Mailing Address: TCEQ, Contact Name Chairman, Robert J. Huston, Mail Code, P.O. Box 13087, Austin, TX 78711-3087
Physical Address: TCEQ, Robert J. Huston, Building F, Mail Code 100, 12100 Park 35 Circle, Austin, TX 78753 Use for express carrier deliveries (U.S. Post Office Express Mail, FedEx, UPS, etc.).
U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT CONTACTS
Codoleeza Rice Secretary of State Mailing address: U.S. Department of State 2201 C St. NW Washington, DC 20520 202-647-4000
Ms. Roberta S. Jacobson Director-Office of Mexican Affairs United States Department of State Washington, D.C.20520
Ms. Mary Brandt Office of Mexican Affairs-Officer in Charge United States Department of State 2201 C Street NW Washington D.C. 20520 Brandtmm@state.gov 202-647-8529
Dennis Linskey Office of Mexican Affairs-Border Coordinator United States Department of State 2201 C Street NW Washington D.C. 20520 email@example.com 202-647-8529