Crappie survey here finds major differences in populations of fishA survey of adult crappie in the Pipestem and Jamestown reservoirs has yielded some major differences in the populations and age patterns of the fish in the two lakes, according to Brandon Kratz, fisheries biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department at Jamestown.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
A survey of adult crappie in the Pipestem and Jamestown reservoirs has yielded some major differences in the populations and age patterns of the fish in the two lakes, according to Brandon Kratz, fisheries biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department at Jamestown.
“The main difference is the large dominance of one age class in Pipestem,” Kratz said. “It looks like we have four age classes present in the Jamestown Dam.”
That means a difference in the fishing prospects for the two lakes.
“Pipestem is about two years away from having an excellent crappie fishery,” he said. “Jamestown Dam will have more consistent fishing for crappie but not as intense.”
Kratz said the fish test netted at Pipestem on Wednesday were all 5 years old and less than 8 inches long. Some size difference was present due to the sex of the fish and the individual development of the fish.
The fish netted at Jamestown Dam on Friday had a wider variety of sizes ranging from fish of over a pound to some just 4 or 5 inches long. The population also seemed to be lower than at Pipestem.
Crappie spawn in shallow water in early June each year. Kratz said it is important that the lake levels be held steady during that period. Bob Martin, dam manager for the Corps of Engineers at Pipestem, said that had been done most years.
“For four out of the last five years we were able to keep the lake level from June 1 to June 15,” Martin said. “Last year we weren’t able to because of the high water and the need to draw down the lake for flood control.”
Kratz said the crappie in both dams manage to spawn well but have a tough time reaching adulthood.
“What we’ve found is they reproduce well but don’t overwinter their first winter well,” he said. “Some literature suggests cold water temperatures may affect age 1 survival. We also know there is cannibalism and consumption by other species of fish of the young of the year.”
If they do manage to survive the first winter the crappie need to grow another seven or eight years to reach the size most anglers would consider keepers, Kratz said.
For Pipestem Dam the increasing size of the dominant crappie age class may mean a return to the high quality fishing seen there in 2002 through 2003, Kratz said. A creel survey in February 2003 estimated that more than 500 crappie per day were being taken from Pipestem Dam. Pressure from local anglers concerned that fishermen from outside the area were taking home buckets of crappie daily prompted the Game and Fish Department to lower the limit on Pipestem from 20 to 10 fish per day. That special limit is still in place at Pipestem while the Jamestown Dam has the standard 20 fish limit.
Some anglers on the Jamestown Dam see the lower numbers and less intense crappie fishing there as a problem.
“The reason people fish is they start catching fish as kids,” said Dean Anderson, longtime resident angler. “The crappies should be an abundant catchable fish to get the interest of the young fishermen.”
Anderson is lobbying for more stocking of crappies in the Jamestown Dam as an effort to increase the numbers and fishing opportunities.
“Kids don’t want to sit in a boat all day and catch two walleyes,” he said. “They’re more into pan fish where they catch a lot of fish. We need to stock the fish to help out the reproduction.”
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at (701) 952-8452 or by e-mail at email@example.com