Know up front that the headline above was stolen from an article by Byron Scott with the same title that appeared in the February 1956 edition of Outdoor Life. Despite its age, I am fascinated by the piece.
Did you know that media around Possum Kingdom Lake in Texas (roughly 70 miles west of Forth Worth) used to provide regular reports on the lake’s thermocline? In fact, the following is an edited radio report from August 1954:
“Here is the thermocline report from Possum Kingdom Lake . The minor temperature break is at nine feet and the major temperature break is at 36 feet. This information is supplied by the Possum Kingdom Association’s Thermocline Station. Anglers are advised to fish from the surface down to 8 feet for largemouth bass and at 17 feet for crappie.”
I find it interesting that 57 years after this radio report was broadcast, anglers still struggle to understand the thermocline’s impact on fish position after it forms during the warmer months of the year.
This video from bass pro Stacy King does a superb job explaining the thermocline http://www.versus.com/fishing/videos/the-thermo-what so I encourage you to invest a few minutes to watch it. This information simple wasn’t available to anglers a couple generations ago, which is why I found this piece to be so ground breaking for the era in which it ran.
The thermocline report was developed as a means to improve fishing success of Possum Kingdom Lake anglers whose success rates dropped as the water warmed. In February 1954, Texas Game & Fish Commission (now Texas Parks & Wildlife Department) biologist Robert Hambric told members of the Possum Kingdom Association of a new $225 thermometer developed to accurately measure water temps at any depth. He theorized that both temperature and water chemical make-up would provide clues to fish position once the thermocline formed each spring.
So the lake association ponied up the money for the new thermometer and the Hambric began to gather data all hoped would help improve both knowledge of fish behavior and fishing success.
The media reports were a byproduct of the resulting research.
The author credits the thermocline information with helping him and other area anglers catch more fish, and when you think about it, the information provided would be nearly as valuable today as it was in grandpa’s time (sonar wasn’t around then). Knowing the position of the thermocline allows you eliminate vast amounts of water quickly (no fish can live in the oxygen-free water below the thermocline).
Like I said, fascinating stuff!
-- Steve Pennaz