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Thread: Small crappie removal

  1. #1
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    Default Small crappie removal

    Saturday I was fishing Grayson lake when I was approached by a person from the department of fish and wildlife who was doing a survey on what we were catching, how we felt the lake was doing, if we would support some changes, that sort of stuff.
    I told him I was disappointed with the crappie in the lake as the overwhelming majority seem to be 8 inches or less. He said we have an over abundance of small fish, and people are only taking the big ones. When in reality, we should be taking a bunch of the small ones. He said a size limit would not help, but would most likely hurt the crappie in this particular lake.

    That doesnít quite make sense to me... yes Grayson has a lot of crappie in it, but does it really have so many that they are stunting each other by competing for food? Itís rare for me to catch them over 10 inches there, but I will say the majority of fish I have caught this year are fatter than the ones Iíve seen in the past 5 years on average.

    So, if the biologist is correct, what would a person do with a bunch of small crappie if they were to keep them every time they go? The biologist jokingly said fertilize the garden, but Iím not going to kill fish if I canít use them. What say you on this?


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  2. #2
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    chaunc is online now 2014 Crappie.com Man of the Year * Crappie.com Supporter
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    If itís necessary to help the lake, keep those eight in fish. They are easy to fillet and are delicious as no pcbís have had time to build up in them. Youíll notice that a lot of them have eggs. This is why they are overcrowding the lake. Only takes two years for them to get to spawning size. Therefore putting more small fish into the system than big fish being taken out. Combined with the big fish spawning, the smaller fish will outnumber the ten inch fish greatly. If you donít mind cleaning thirty fish to make a couple to three meals, keep those eights. They really are delicious.

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    something I learned when I had a 750 gal garden pond--- I was told that if I wanted my fish to grow I needed to change the water at least 2 or 3 times a year, as fish emit some kind of enzyme that stunts their growth.
    that said I realize that a lake will have water changes all the time, but it's also possible that those enzymes that effect them in a pond can also effect them in a lake as most of the time fish swim in schools and share the same water.
    I was at Patoka when a Ranger did a check on me, ask how the fishing was. I told him it'd be good IF the fish were bigger. He asked what me what I did with them when caught. I told me I threw them back to grow up. He said not to do that because there were too many of them and if I didn't want to keep them to throw them OUT as there were too many and needed thinning. Enzymes in the water?? could be, but I'm not a Biologist, but it makes sense to me.
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    One of the river chains out here with lakes has been no limit or size. Same thing, too many smalls. Some people that donít mind keeping the smalls fill up 5 gallon buckets when they get on them. Recently Iíve heard of some 3-4 lb crappie coming out of the same lake and seen some good size ones as well.
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    In my home lake there are a ton of bugeyes we call em, 4 to 7 inchers everywhere but you can also get out and ketch some bigger ones too. I have started keeping many 8 or 9 inch fish and throwing back the 13+ and they are quite easy to filet and eat. limit is 30 to try and get more fish out of water but not many fish for them here, mostly bass guys and they don't keep them either. I also have a couple of friends who have lakes they want crappie for so will fill a cooler up with a two or 3 person limit to transplant. need to take fish out of the lake and know some that toss them up on bank or use in their gardens but not significant.
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  6. #6
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    Toss the small ones in a ditch or use them to fertilize your garden - they aren't going to waste in this manner, they are being consumed by something that will benefit from them.

    I know of a lake that had the same problem when I was in high school. My friends and I would catch 50+ crappie each in an hour or two and had to toss them all back or the lake owner would get mad....they were all skinny and about 6 to 8 inches each. When you did catch a good sized one at about 10", it was so skinny that there wasn't much of a fillet on it.

    Crappie are prolific spawners and will ruin a small lake or pond if not managed properly.

    A fisheries biologist once told me that you have to think of the available food source like a defined amount of money distributed to everything in the pond or lake each year - it's a limited thing, and with too many pulling from the pot there's less to go around.

    Catch and release can actually be a bad thing, with too many fish gobbling up a limited resource, you end up with a smaller average size and very few big ones. A pond or lake's capacity and average size of fish is heavily dictated by the amount of food available.
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    Thank you for all the replies. So if the answer to making a better fishery is the removal of small fish, why is the KYDFW not promoting this or spreading the word that they want people to remove smaller fish? Shouldnít we always be striving to make our fisherys better? Iíll gladly do my part if it will lead to bigger fish in the future, just curious why they arenít telling people to do it? Most of the people I know who fish Grayson do the same as me and donít keep any under 10 inches cause they are too skinny to mess with.


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  8. #8
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    Jman5626 and all, REALLY good discussion. I think our State does a good job trying to do the 'Balance' of size and creel limits to help us all on the crappie limits. The problem I see is with 'stunted' crappie populations in some lakes. Somehow, they need to encourage fisherman to take out the smaller crappie from some of these lakes that you and I know are overpopulated and in most cases 'stunted'. Example, no size limit and maybe a 30 fish limit on the lakes they know that 60-75% of the crappie are 'stunted'. Most crappie fisherman want to take something home to eat. My take is that most will keep an 8-10" crappie. It would be better than a 6" bluegill as far as 'meat' even if the Crappie is skinny. I know they have eliminated the 'Yellow Bass' limit on KY/Barkley lakes due to the overwhelming population of smaller fish. But man, these are good eating and you can still get a decent fillet off a 6" fish if you want some filets.
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  9. #9
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    Grayson Lake has no size limit on crappie - to me that's KDFWR encouraging you to take what you catch home.
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  10. #10
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    Default Small crappie removal

    Quote Originally Posted by artcarney_agr View Post
    Grayson Lake has no size limit on crappie - to me that's KDFWR encouraging you to take what you catch home.
    I see what you are saying, who wants to keep a 6 inch fish thatís so skinny you can almost see through it tho? If they are wanting people the take those small fish out to help the population, Iíd think they should advertise it. Put up a sign at the ramp or something. Most people put the small ones back thinking they will grow up, but if thatís not the case they should let us know. I gave the biologist i talked to my honest opinion but highly doubt it mattered. He seemed more interested in what we thought about the bass fishing.


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