Fishery News from Arkansas GFC

Home States Fishery News from Arkansas GFC
Fishery News from Arkansas GFC
In 2017, AGFC biologists based out of Jonesboro removed the crappie creel limit on Lake Charles in northeast Arkansas, then followed suit three years later for nearby Lake Hogue and Lake Frierson. The goal of removing creel limits on these lakes was to increase angler harvest, thereby reducing each lake’s overall population and in turn helping increase growth of younger fish in the lakes.
AGFC fisheries biologists often note with the adage, “With more food and fewer mouths to feed, you can grow bigger faster.”
AGFC biologists continue to monitor the Lake Charles crappie population for changes in growth and condition (average weight) through sampling. Last year’s fall sampling indicated that growth of crappie is increasing in the lake. Though this change was small, crappie are reaching longer lengths and have healthier weights than before the creel limit was eliminated.
The Fisheries Division says these changes indicate that the number of fish in the population is decreasing and that prey availability is increasing. It is too soon for biologists to determine if this year’s sample will show similar increasing growth trends, but they are hopeful it continues.
* Groundbreaking for new construction at the Jim Hinkle Spring River State Fish Hatchery was held  Thursday, Sept. 23 at Mammoth Spring in northeast Arkansas. Flooding in 2017 wreaked havoc on the hatchery, which was originally built by The Kroger Co. to raise commercial trout before it was later purchased from the food corporation by the AGFC to raise rainbow trout and boost species numbers throughout the state where trout could be sustained, such as below big lakes and dams built for power generation or in small ponds during winter months. The flood and the damage that ensued cut Jim Hinkle’s production to 40 percent or less of capacity. With funding through an increase of the AGFC’s annual trout permit, which is required for trout fishing in Arkansas, the major renovation work at the hatchery has been able to start. The total cost to renovate the hatchery will be $6.7 million. The work is not expected to affect the Spring River or its fishery during construction, which will be done in stages.

* In case you missed this last month, the Commission voted unanimously in August to approve a $70,000 increase in the AGFC Fisheries budget to purchase and outfit two specialized boats that will be used to catch and remove invasive carp in the Lower Mississippi River Basin and the Arkansas/White/Red River Basin. This is just a portion of the latest work in the agency’s ongoing efforts to reduce and control the spread of invasive carp, such as silver carp.
These various species of carp were introduce to Arkansas in the 1960s and ’70s as an alternative to chemical treatments to rid lakes and waterways of algae blooms in aquaculture operations. However, since that time, these invasive and non-native carp have spread throughout the lower Arkansas River, the Mississippi, Ohio, Missouri and Illinois rivers and their tributaries. They feed on plankton and reduce forage at the base of the aquatic food web, harming the ability of sport fish to develop. Silver carp also have proved a danger to boaters.
“Controlling invasive carp is a monumental challenge, and is one we hear about all the time from our beloved anglers,” AGFC Director Austin Booth said at the meeting.