LEAD HILL (AGFC) –
Hundreds of thousands of young crappie are swimming just outside the
Sugarloaf arm of Bull Shoals Lake, waiting to boost the population and
keep anglers happy for years to come.
the Dr. Ralph Bowers/Tommy Donohoe Bull Shoals Lake Nursery Pond in Lead
Hill, biologists hatch and raise fish right next to the lake instead of
trucking them in from a distant hatchery. It's a plan that's paid off
for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission since the 21-acre pond was
established in 2007.
Risley, AGFC fisheries biologist in Mountain Home, says fish stocked
through the nursery pond are allowed to grow without competition from
other species and can be released into the lake much easier than by
cost-effective, low-maintenance means to stock more fish into Bull
Shoals," Risley said. "These fish are not being handled, which reduces
mortality. We just open up the gate and release the fish directly into
This year, biologists decided to run crappie through the system.
"The plan is
to stock walleye every third year," Risley said. "Crappie are stocked
during other years, and we only do one species per year through the
pond. We still stock thousands of channel catfish, blue catfish and
other species by truck."
biologists use the pond for walleye, fingerling fish from a hatchery are
stocked into the system and allowed to grow until their chances of
survival in the big lake are better, but crappie stocking is a
crappie, we stock brood fish before the spawn and allow them to
reproduce naturally in the fertilized water free of predators and
This year, the pond was stocked with 200 adult crappie, which produced hundreds of thousands of fingerlings.
the pond in mid-May," Risley said. "The pond had a very successful
spawn. The young fish were already more than an inch long. We'll
continue to check their growth and will either release them into the
lake at the end of June or October, depending on their condition."
estimates that about a half of a million walleye fingerlings and 300,000
crappie fingerlings have been stocked through the pond since it was
established in 2007.
"We had two
years of abnormally high water when the lake rose into the pond and
production was lost, but overall the pond has been a huge success. And
this year's looking like it's going to be one of the best yet."