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Area Crappie Populations Look Excellent
WICHITA FALLS — The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) district fisheries office in Wichita Falls recently completed crappie surveys on Lakes Buffalo Creek, Lost Creek, Possum Kingdom, Wichita and Petrolia. “Overall, the news is good for anglers of these lakes,” said TPWD’s Robert Mauk.
Buffalo Creek. At Buffalo Creek, the crappie catch rate (number of crappie per net) was the second highest ever. The previous survey (2006) consisted of all young crappie below the legal size limit. (All five lakes are managed under the statewide 10-inch minimum length and 25-fish daily bag limit regulation for crappie.) “Those crappie have grown up and were up to 14 inches in the current survey,” Mauk said. “A spring creel survey found the average size of harvested crappie was 13 inches with 16-inch crappie being caught.”
Crappie growth at Buffalo Creek is well above average with fish averaging over 13 inches at age 3.
“Most anglers fish the dam, but we found crappie in the shallow stick-ups less than four feet in depth,” Mauk said. “Last spring we placed brush piles along the dam and felled some trees into the water, and anglers did well fishing these areas.”
Anglers should note that the city of Iowa Park will close the entrance gates after rains allowing the dirt roads time to dry before reopening the gates. The main entrance to the lake is on the west side of the lake off Burnett Road.
Lost Creek. “Lost Creek’s crappie catch rate just keeps improving with every survey we complete, increasing over 50 percent from the last survey in 2006,” Mauk said. “Crappie to 13 inches were sampled, and their body condition was good. They are often found associated with pondweed.
“Most of the crappie were sampled in the north mid-lake cove in three feet of water,” Mauk continued. “The water was extremely clear at time of sampling with clarity in the 10-foot range. During the day, crappie will be deeper than the three feet we found them. I’ve received reports that anglers catch them in 21 feet of water during the summer, which is the same depth some of the better largemouth bass are caught from.”
Possum Kingdom. Possum Kingdom had the second highest catch rate of white crappie documented at the reservoir and the highest catch rate for black crappie despite the golden alga last spring. The populations had a good mix of sub-legal and legal crappie.
“Body condition was considered excellent, especially for legal-sized crappie,” Mauk said. “Crappie were sampled throughout the reservoir, but the majority of legal-sized crappie were caught in the upper portion of the reservoir near Rock Creek and mid-lake in Bee Creek.”
White crappie are far more numerous than black crappie in Possum Kingdom. To properly identify the two species, count the number of dorsal spines. Black crappie have seven to eight spines, and white crappie have six spines. There are other differences besides the spines including patterns to their markings, but the coloration of the fish is not a way to tell the two species apart.
Lake Wichita. Lake Wichita has a good population of crappie right now though it is often overlooked by anglers. There is good shoreline access for crappie fishing, especially along the dam and at the old marina cove near the Wild Bird Rescue building. “Crappie abundance was quite high, and many were of legal size and in excellent condition,” Mauk reported. “Crappie in Wichita exhibit fast growth, with most attaining legal size at age one. Minnows and jigs are the bait of choice for most crappie anglers at Wichita.”
Petrolia. Petrolia is a smaller reservoir under the Community Fishing Lake category, which means that only rod and reel angling is allowed. No seining, cast nets, jug- or trotlines are allowed. This smaller reservoir lends itself well to the wade or tube angler. Much of the shoreline has cattails growing limiting shore angling to a few open areas.
“Crappie are quite numerous in the lake with many crappie up to 14 inches sampled,” Mauk said. “These crappie are also extremely fat, some of the healthiest crappie I’ve seen. The lake also has big bluegill and redear sunfish. Most of the fish were sampled in the shallow south end of the lake.”
If you have any questions, please call the TPWD Inland Fisheries office at (940) 766-2383 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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