ATHENS—Two former long-time employees of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) will be inducted into the Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in Athens June 5.
Honorees will be the late Edward W. Bonn of Denison and Philip Durocher of Austin.
Bonn was one of three fisheries biologists hired in 1946 by what later became TPWD. As many new reservoirs were built to serve Texas’ growing population, a sport fish able to utilize open-water habitat was needed. Under Bonn’s leadership and direction, experiments were carried out with striped bass, a marine species, to develop ways to stock them into Texas lakes.
Bonn also worked to develop methods to cross striped bass with native white bass to produce hybrid stripers. Both species now furnish recreation and food for large numbers of anglers.
Bonn was also responsible for training many biologists and technicians who came to work for TPWD as the department grew. “Ed was always a very thorough and exacting biologist who was so influential to me in my early training,” said retired fisheries biologist Charles Inman. “He loved fishery management and certainly helped make Texas fishing what it is today.”
Also inducted into the Hall of Fame will be Philip Durocher, who served as the director of TPWD’s Inland Fisheries Division for 19 years and retired at the end of 2009.
Durocher went to work at TPWD as a research specialist in 1974 and served as chief of research and management from 1984 until he became Inland Fisheries division director in 1991.
Durocher’s most visible contribution was shifting the philosophy of fisheries management from one of maximum sustained yield to one of optimum sustained yield, especially regarding largemouth bass. Maximum sustained yield emphasized harvest, and largemouth bass were viewed primarily as a food fish. Durocher recognized that adopting a system of selective harvest that allowed bigger fish to live and reproduce would enhance the bass fishery and make largemouth bass a sport fish, increasing the economic value of the fishery.
Under his leadership Texas adopted a statewide 14-inch minimum size limit and five-fish daily bag limit for largemouth bass in 1985. From that point management practices were refined and tailored to fit specific reservoirs. The result was a largemouth bass fishery that is generally acknowledged to be the best in the nation and a vital part of the Texas economy, generating some $2 billion in economic impact each year.
Durocher was also instrumental in attracting top fisheries professionals from across the nation to manage all Texas fisheries using a science-based approach. He recognized the need to modernize the TPWD hatchery system and worked for the creation of the Freshwater Fishing Stamp to replace one aging hatchery and make improvements to the others.
Also under his leadership, a trophy bass fishery was created at Lake Fork, the Neighborhood Fishin’ Program was established, a partnership was forged with Toyota to create the Toyota Texas Bass Classic, and a series of studies were carried out that proved the economic value of fisheries in Texas.
Videos about the honorees can be viewed in the News section of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s YouTube channel.
Two other individuals will be recognized at the awards banquet with Honorable Mention plaques, professional angler Lonnie Stanley of Huntington and the late Allen Crise of Glen Rose, a long-time fly-fisher whose passion was teaching others the art of casting.