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Texas Sportsman
Lone Star Crappie Forecast
Slabs, heavy stringers and full ice chests: just what Texas anglers can expect when they go after crappie this spring! (April 2008)

Photo by Tom Berg

A good number, 8. Not quite that perfect 10, but getting there; definitely better than 5.

And if you’re a Texan who likes to catch crappie, 8 is more than just that: It also represents one writer’s quick, simple prediction of your prospects for good fishing throughout the Lone Star State this season: On the 1-to-10 crappie-fishing scale, 2008 looks like it’ll be an 8.

“I recently had the opportunity to drive around the state for various reasons,” said Dave Terre, the new Chief of Fisheries for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “I crossed the Brazos, the Guadalupe, the Sabine, the Colorado . . . and every one of those river drainages was plumb full and running.

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“It’s been 50 years since all of our state’s major river systems were in this kind of shape, and it’s wonderful news for us and for our game fish. Crappie, bass -- all of our popular species -- are going to benefit because we’ve been blessed this past year with a lot of rain. Crappie in particular respond very well to that.”

Significant reasons underlie that state of affairs, and they’re going to affect your crappie fishing not just during this season but for years to come. And that’s got a lot to do with the number 8 leading this story: Your fishing this season may not be all that wonderful (it will be in some spots, and we’ll get to them later), but over the next few seasons crappie fans around the Lone Star State are going to enjoy fishing that should be an 8 or better on a 10-scale.

I don’t have to tell you about the challenges brought on by low water and lack of rain that Texans have lately faced. But, for the benefit of you Dallas residents and those of you in San Angelo and San Antonio, it could be worse -- you could be in Atlanta.

Folks a few hundred miles east of Lake Fork have been talking about a “100-year drought.” One mayor in a rural southeast Tennessee town shut off his community’s water system, giving residents three hours a day to use water. Period. It hasn’t been that bad here in Texas, but it has been pretty rough.

“Of course, the folks in West Texas know that drought is real common,” Terre said. “Water levels will drop over time. Lakes get lower and lower. Then, a hurricane will move into the Gulf and bring substantial rains to the region. It happens. “The central and eastern waters tend to be more stable, but even they have dropped in recent years. It’s been tough. There have been places where we’ve even lost (the use of) boat ramps because of low water levels.”

Anglers who frequent Lake Falcon in West Texas know all about this cycle, because Falcon may provide the most graphic evidence of how water levels affect fisheries. At Falcon, levels drop 40 feet and more over time, and the impact of heavy rains that refill the lake can’t be overstated.

Think about what happens along a lakebed exposed by drought. New vegetation germinates and begins to grow. When things go on for a year or two, even three, the amount of potential submerged vegetation and cover can get quite large. And then it rains.

“All over the state, the heavy rains we’ve gotten have caused water levels to rise,” Terre said. “It has created whole new lakes, and anglers are going to reap the benefits of that over the next few years.”

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