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Texas’ 2007 Spring Crappie Forecast
Catching crappie is a favorite sport all across the Lone Star State, and these waters crank out the kind of action that keeps anglers coming back for more. (April 2007)
Here’s hoping that by the time you read this, the rains will have come and Texas’ drought concerns will have been eased, if not erased, after a period of much-needed precipitation.
But either way, by the time you read this, it’ll be time to go crappie fishing, drought or no drought.
And surprisingly enough, even if low-water conditions persist, most crappie observers believe that the 2007 spring season will be a good one.
“Unlike a lot of other sunfish-type species like the largemouth bass, the bluegill, or the redear, (crappie) have life stages that don’t require shallow water,” said Bill Provine, chief of research and management for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s inland fisheries branch.
“Crappie are a little bit more pelagic and less dependent on shoreline cover than you might expect,” he said. “Once these fish hatch and get a little age on them, they move out to deeper water.”
The bottom line on crappie, according to Provine: “(They) can hang on a little better in these conditions than bass, bluegill, or redear.”
That’s good news, since the TPWD’s Web site, www.tpwd.state. tx.us, reports that fishing for both the black and the white varieties of crappie ranks as the state’s third-most popular angling sport behind the targeting of largemouth bass and catfish.
So what kind of fishing can Texas’ crappie anglers expect this spring? “Probably not bad,” said Provine, who offered that he’d give a statewide crappie forecast grade of “C” for 2007.
The TPWD biologist said that stalwart crappie waters such as Lake Fork, Sam Rayburn, and Toledo Bend Reservoir are among those that should once again hold up their end of the spring slab-fishing bargain.
But Provine had a cautionary word, considering the recent long, dry spell: “It will probably not be one of the better years if nothing changes.”
Again, with an El Niño winter forecast, water levels may have risen significantly by the time you read this. “If we get really good rains and a really good spring spawn,” Provine pointed out, “remember: It would be over a year before those fish are harvestable.”
Putting Provine’s last statement in context will aid you in detecting the presence of at least two silver linings in that aris cloud of drought that’s been hovering over Texas crappie fishing for the latter half of 2005 and nearly all of 2006. The first silver lining: If good early-fall rains in some portions of Texas turn into more general and heavy run-off winter rains, this spring’s crappie spawn could set the stage for a banner crop of crappie fry, along with great fishing in years to come.
Why is that? Because drought brings not only low-water conditions but also tremendous growth of the vegetation on exposed lakebeds. When the rains finally return, they’ll cover and flood that vegetation, vastly improving the lake’s habitat almost overnight. In fact, after rains fill a lake back up after a drought, such a phenomenon produces an explosion of food, nutrients, and aquatic life rivaling the biological bonanza set in motion when a new reservoir is impounded. Add to the mix better nursery cover for game fish fry and prey fish fry to escape from predators, and that means that not only will spawning efforts be good, but also recruitment of little fish into adult fish.
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