Possum Kingdom Lake Alligators




Possum Kingdom Lake lies in the foothills of the Palo Pinto Mountains, about 75 miles west of Ft. Worth, Texas, on the Brazos River. Possum Kingdom Lake covers about 16,716 acres with a maximum depth of 100 feet and 310 miles of shoreline in the counties of Palo Pinto, Stephens, and Young.

The terrain of Possum Kingdom Lake features notable cliffs and boulders. Hell’s Gate, one of the most famous lake landmarks in Texas, encompasses Possum Kingdom Lake’s well-known and well-attended party cove. Devil’s Island and an adjacent cliff on the shore across from the island form Hell’s Gate.

Does Possum Kingdom Lake Have Alligators?

There have been no reported or confirmed sightings of alligators on Possum Kingdom Lake recently, but alligators are in the Brazos River.

The 100th Meridian in Texas splices the state down the right-hand side of the Panhandle south. Possum Kingdom Lake is within the historic range of alligators and provides an alligator habitat.

The original range of alligators extended as far north as New Jersey, southward to the South Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, inland to the confluence of the Arkansas River with the Mississippi River, and then westward to the 100th meridian in Texas.

Today, the indigenous range of American alligator is from coastal North Carolina south to southern Florida and the Keys, and westward through the Deep South to central Texas and extreme southeastern Oklahoma and southwestern Arkansas. Possum Kingdom Lake is not included in that range.


Are There Alligators in the Brazos River?

Yes, there are alligators in the Brazos River.

When swimming in or navigating the Brazos River, and especially the lower Brazos River, people need to have an awareness of alligator habitat and habits. Alligators mate in May, and this is when alligator sightings are most common. Flooding can cause alligators to migrate upstream.

Alligators can thrive in the Brazos River ecosystem and are active, so be aware of these creatures when navigating the Brazos River and its tributaries. The seasonal abundant rains in the spring provide alligator habitat conditions and promote the expanding half-million alligator population in Texas.

Alligators are the largest reptiles in North America and can grow to over ten feet as adults. Alligators are a protected game animal in the state of Texas and no longer an endangered species. The Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD) issues permits to hunt, raise, or possess an alligator.


Are There Alligators in Texas?

Yes, alligators have been sighted in 125 Texas counties, or almost half the state. Their populations are highest anywhere east of I-35. They have been seen, but not always confirmed by the TPWD in these counties. The largest alligator populations are along the southern half of the Texas/Louisiana border and across the Texas coast to past Corpus Christi.

Alligators look like prehistoric creatures. Instead, they are the fascinating result of an ancient evolutionary line. They belong to the Crocodylia order. Alligators have been around for at least 84 million years with ancestors that date back to the Triassic era, which was over 200 million years ago.

Game wardens and people have sighted alligators as far west as Denton and Grayson Counties, Texas, on the Red River border with Oklahoma and as far west as the southwestern Mexican border in Maverick, Webb, and Zapata counties. Most Texas counties are square-shaped except in the Texas Hill country.

Texas Hill Country counties are shaped by their hilly terrains. The alligator’s primary range stretches south from the Red River across the northern edge of the Hill Country counties and down to the Mexican border. All these alligator counties are in east and south Texas. North Texas alligators hang out in the Trinity River and its tributaries. In south Texas, there are hundreds of waterways providing an ideal alligator habitat.

Alligators are the largest reptiles in North America. They are blackish with yellowish or cream colored cross bands that become less apparent with age. You cannot usually see an alligator’s body when it is swimming. Determine an alligator’s size by estimating the distance between the eyes. For each inch between the eyes, add one foot to the alligator’s length. Four inches between the eyes indicates a four-foot alligator.


How Did Alligators Get to Texas?

Alligators lived in Texas long before humans. The Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca expedition ran aground on Galveston Island in 1528, and did not record alligator sightings. However, the gallant men on this expedition found the indigenous mighty and tall Karankawa Indian’s skin glistening with alligator grease to keep mosquitoes at bay.

As noted before, alligators in their current species have been in the U.S. for 84 million years. The better question might be “How did humans get to Texas?” Alligators have lived in Texas much longer than the first recorded human on the African Continent two million years ago.

Alligators and European humans have coexisted in marshes, swamps, rivers, and lakes throughout the United State’s regions of the Gulf Coast and Southeastern U.S. for about five centuries. The Cabeza de Vaca expedition to Florida earlier in 1528 also did not record alligator sightings. There is no doubt that the early Spanish explorers encountered alligators from Florida to Texas. It must have been quite a chore to render alligator grease. 


Can you swim in Possum Kingdom Lake?

Yes, you can swim at Possum Kingdom Lake. Swim beaches in public use areas at Possum Kingdom Lake include the Possum Kingdom State Park, Possum Hollow, Turtle Beach, some Brazos River Authority (BRA) parks, and Sandy Beach near BRA #6. Scuba diving is also popular at Possum Kingdom Lake. Visitors can boat to swimming holes.

Possum Kingdom Lake is open year round. Beautiful cliffs and forested terrain surround Possum Kingdom Lake. It has hundreds of coves and inlets scattered all around it. Possum Kingdom Lake sports rocky shores and is nestled into the Palo Pinto Mountain foothills, boasting amazing views.

Possum Kingdom Lake is one of the oldest inland scuba diving destinations in Texas and attracts a large number of divers each year due to its clear waters. It serves as a training ground for new divers. There are scuba shops and scuba diving associations within the lake’s vicinity.


Alligator Information

Never Feed a Gator: It Is Illegal

It is illegal for an extremely logical reason based on centuries of knowledge from the folks who live in East Texas, southwestern Arkansas, Louisiana, and Florida. Why? Gators instinctively fear humans, will not normally attack people, and become nuisance gators.

If only one person feeds a single gator, it poses a future threat to humans and a opens up a new gateway to the property near the feeding location to children, pets, deer, cattle, other livestock, and wildlife because the gators become acclimated to human interaction, lose their fear, and hunt the new grounds.

It is illegal in Texas to feed an alligator. Since October 1, 2003, it has been a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 for anyone caught feeding an alligator in Texas. Human-fed gators are called nuisance gators. Even in non-core Texas counties, feeding a gator is dangerous to humans and the ecosystem.

Characteristics of Nuisance Gators

The presence of an alligator does not constitute a nuisance situation. If residences and commercial properties are located within or adjacent to habitats occupied by alligators, rare interactions do occur. Alligators are not naturally aggressive towards people. They avoid people and human-populated areas in their habitats, unless they have been fed intentionally or indirectly fed, such as by fish feeders or discarded fish remains thrown into the water.

Any alligator that has preyed upon or attempted to prey upon humans, pets, or livestock, or an alligator that shows aggression and lack of fear of humans by regularly approaching human activity is considered a "nuisance alligator". Leaving fish remains in water or on the waterfront is illegal in many state and federal wildlife management agencies, and is considered indirectly feeding a gator.

Alligators do not naturally patrol neighborhoods, busy beaches and waterfronts, and popular fishing areas in their habitats. The following are instances in which local authorities should be notified about a nuisance gator:

  • If you see an alligator in the roadway.
  • If an alligator is repeatedly following boats, canoes or other watercrafts, and/or maintains a close distance without submersing.
  • If you walk near the water and an alligator comes straight toward you, especially if it comes out of the water.

What to Do if You Have an Alligator Encounter

Serious and repeated attacks are most often made by alligators 8-feet in length or more and the result of chase and feeding behavior. Attacks by alligators under 5-feet in length are rare.

From the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD):

  • If the alligator is not approaching people or otherwise posing an obvious threat, wait a few days if possible - even up to a week - before contacting TPWD. In spring and summer, alligators are moving to breed and find new habitat. Most of the alligators moving around are smaller ones that have been pushed out of their normal habitat by larger alligators. Usually, these smaller alligators will move further on in a week or two.
  • If you hear an alligator hiss, it's a warning that you are too close.
  • Alligators have a natural fear of humans, and usually begin a quick retreat when approached by people. If you have a close encounter with an alligator a few yards away, back away slowly. It is extremely rare for wild alligators to chase people, but they can run up to 35 miles per hour for short distances on land. Never make the mistake of thinking that an alligator is slow and lethargic. Alligators are extremely quick and agile and will defend themselves when cornered. A female protecting her nest might charge a person who gets close to the nest, but she would quickly return to the nest after the intruder left.
  • It is not uncommon for alligators to bask along the banks of a pond or stream for extended periods of time. These alligators are usually warming their bodies; they are not actively hunting. Often times a basking alligator may be seen with its mouth open; this is a way to cool its body temperature down, since alligators do not pant or sweat. An approaching human should cause these alligators to retreat into the water. (In some cases, the alligator may be protecting a nest - see below.) However, an alligator may be considered a nuisance if it leaves the banks of the water body to spend time near homes, livestock pens, or other structures.
  • If you walk near the water and an alligator comes straight toward you, especially if it comes out of the water, it is definitely a nuisance alligator that needs to be reported to TPWD. In many cases, these are alligators that have been fed by people or have been allowed to get human food.
  • If you see an alligator while walking a pet, make sure that your pet is on a leash and under your control. Your pet will naturally be curious, and the alligator may see an easy food source. Alligators have a keen sense of smell. In areas near alligator sightings it is wise to keep pets inside a fenced area or in the house for a few days, during which the alligator will often move on.
  • If you see an alligator in the roadway, DO NOT attempt to move it! Notify local authorities so the alligator can be handled safely.
  • If you see a large alligator in your favorite swimming hole or pond, do not swim with it. Although alligator attacks in Texas are rare, it can happen. The "attack" reports in Texas are usually more accurately described as "encounters." As with all outdoor activities, realize that wildlife encounters are a possibility.
  • It is not uncommon for alligators to pursue top-water fishing lures, and this activity does not constitute a threat to humans. As with fish, alligators are attracted to these lures because they mimic natural food. Most alligators can be easily scared away from boats or fishing lures. However, alligators that repeatedly follow boats, canoes, or other watercraft, and/or maintain a close distance without submersing may be considered nuisance alligators.
  • If you see a nuisance alligator, consider why it is there. Did someone clean fish and throw the heads into a pond or river? If so, they created a potential alligator problem and could be breaking state regulations. Since October 1, 2003, it has been a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 for anyone caught feeding an alligator.

Gator Safety Precautions

DON’T feed alligators.

DON’T get too close to them.

DON’T swim or wade where they are.

DON’T let your pets near them.

DON’T agitate or tease them.

DON’T try to catch one.

DON’T approach an alligator’s nest.

DO observe from a safe distance.

DO discourage others from feeding them.

DO treat them with respect as an important element of nature.

DO get additional information about alligators from your local Texas Parks and Wildlife Department office, or contact the Alligator Program directly at 10 Parks and Wildlife Drive, Port Arthur, Texas, 77640, or [email protected]

Alligators have a natural fear of humans, and sightings are rare.




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Possum Kingdom Lake Current Weather Alerts

There are no active watches, warnings or advisories.

 

Possum Kingdom Lake Weather Forecast

Friday

Mostly Cloudy

Hi: 67

Friday Night

Chance Rain

Lo: 58

Saturday

Rain Showers Likely

Hi: 63

Saturday Night

Mostly Cloudy

Lo: 50

Sunday

Mostly Cloudy

Hi: 62

Sunday Night

Partly Cloudy

Lo: 51

Monday

Mostly Cloudy

Hi: 69

Monday Night

Slight Chance Rain Showers

Lo: 58


Possum Kingdom Lake Water Level (last 30 days)


Water Level on 12/9: 993.10 (-5.90)



Possum Kingdom Lake

Fishing Report from TPWD (Dec. 7)

GOOD. Water lightly stained; 53-57 degrees; 5.89 feet below pool. Striper fishing is good in 20-40 feet of water with live bait being the key to the catch. Sand bass are on fire using chartreuse, white or pink slabs in 20-30 feet of water. Catfish are good on cut shad fished shallow in 5-15 feet of water. Water clarity is 2-4 feet of water. Report by TJ Ranft, Ranft Guide Service.

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