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JURY STILL OUT ON STATUS OF CRAPPIE
By Steve McCadams
Crappie fishermen hoping to hear some good news about the future or
perhaps learn of a quick fix to a sluggish situation didn’t get their
wish last week when they attended a meeting here in Paris.
Some 100-plus Kentucky Lake crappie anglers attended a meeting to hear
presentations by Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency fisheries
biologists. After a few comments from TWRA fisheries chief Bobby Wilson,
an informative slide presentation by Kentucky Lake fisheries biologist
Tim Broadbent help educate those in attendance on how the agency
collects various data and how the information is utilized in monitoring
the status of crappie.
After a few years of what many feel has been a decline in the quality
and quantity, concern has increased as to the overall situation at hand
and what the future holds.
It was a very mean spring with abnormally cold conditions that lingered
up past mid-April, a scenario that delivered tough fishing conditions
overall. Biologists indicated the extended cold spell this year had a
negative impact as surface temperatures were reluctant to warm in the
normal time frame and that likely had fish and fishermen off balance.
Those concerned about the long-term heard about year class strength, or
lack thereof, based on TWRA’s fall trap netting, and other data taken
from electro shocking to monitor recruitment and catch rate per hour
taken by creel clerk checks throughout the year.
In summary Broadbent’s presentation showed a negative impact on crappie
during some drought years. Both crappie and sauger do not tolerate
drought conditions very well and that, says Broadbent, is part of what
crappie anglers are dealing with as it takes time to work out of the
Data showed it takes about three years for a crappie to achieve the
10-inch length here on Kentucky Lake. If you have two or three back to
back weak year classes it takes time to overcome that and droughts
occurred two different times in the last few years.
Other topics discussed ranged from pole limits to increasing minimum
length limits or lowering the creel limit. However, the agency did not
make any recommendations at this time and was still assembling 2013 data
before the late August commission meeting when that could be addressed.
Biologists did not feel fishing pressure was a factor in the decline nor
did they embrace lowering creel limits or reducing the number of poles
allowed, an opinion that some in attendance did not agree with.
TWRA commissioners Connie King of Clarksville and Bill Cox of
Collierville were on hand to listen to both the presentation and views
of the public to gain a better perception.
If any proposals or recommendations are made it will be done at the
August meeting in Jackson. From there anglers would have a 60-day
comment period before any action would take place and voted on by the
commissioners at their October meeting. If any changes are passed they
would not go into effect until March 1 of 2015.
Meanwhile, crappie anglers are still concerned and opinions vary as just
what direction to go. Based on the data presented it appears anglers
will have to ride out some more sluggish years due to weak year classes
coming on. It will be interesting to what type picture the 2013 data
paints once it’s tabulated in the months ahead.
The jury is still out. Crappie fishermen are wondering if something
should be done to cushion the blow when it appears a rocky road lies
ahead. Do you wait and let the fish work out the problem themselves
without doing anything or roll the dice and hope drought conditions stay
away for a spell and perhaps allow the fish to rebound?
Are limits too liberal when fish are not replenishing at normal rates?
Is fishing pressure a factor? Do you heed the warning signs and error on
the side of caution now before numbers dip even lower?
Those questions and more are on the minds of a lot of folks. Watch for
more details in the months ahead as decision time draws near.
KENTUCKY LAKE CRAPPIE HIGHLIGHTS MEETING
Want to know more about the status of the crappie fishery here on Kentucky
Lake? If so, you’re invited to attend a meeting scheduled for Thursday,
May 29th in the Enoch Building at Henry County Fairgrounds. It begins at 7
Several wildlife commissioners from Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
will be on hand, seeking input from anglers as to the overall scenario.
Presentations will be made by TWRA fisheries biologists including the
state’s fishery chief, Bobby Wilson.
No proposals have been made by any commissioners or from agency personnel.
The meeting is being held to help commissioners gain feedback from crappie
fishermen as several anglers have voiced concern this year on a variety of
issues ranging from creel limits to fishing pressure.
In response to the concerns of crappie fishermen seeking more information
on the overall report card of Kentucky Lake’s crappie fishery,
commissioners will listen to both anglers and biologists to gain a better
perspective of the situation at hand.
Many anglers throughout the Tennessee portion of Kentucky Lake have
experienced a decline in catch rates over the last few years and are
concerned about the population and fishing pressure. Commissioners have
been getting calls this spring from both resident and nonresidents after a
very tough spring where the overall fishing was off.
No doubt the unusual weather this winter and spring has been a factor but
most anglers are looking at the long-term decline as to numbers and size.
More than a few fishermen feel fishing pressure needs to be addressed with
consideration given to lower creel limits, pole limits, length limits,
increased law enforcement and perhaps add stocking of crappie to the
equation when weak year classes enter the picture.
While some crappie anglers logged limit catches earlier this spring in a
portion of the Big Sandy just south of the power lines and north of
Sulphur Well Island, anglers elsewhere reported below average catches and
many feel the trend has been underway for quite some time.
If you have an opinion or wish to learn more about what TWRA’s data shows
as to the status of the crappie on Kentucky Lake then make plans to
attend. It should be an interesting and informative presentation that
might help educate you as to the various ways TWRA monitors the fishery