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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
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    Frankfort
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    Watts Bar Crappie

    We are planning a trip to watts bar in early April. Going after some big Crappie. My uncle has been several times in the past but not for the last 5 yrs. He usually does pretty good but had heard rumors about them stocking hybrids or some kind of fish that has supposedly does harm to the crappie population. Can anyone tell me if this is the case. I kind of dought it but I told him I would try to research it. Any info would be greatly appreciated thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
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    Lexington, Kentucky, USA.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tracy View Post
    We are planning a trip to watts bar in early April. Going after some big Crappie. My uncle has been several times in the past but not for the last 5 yrs. He usually does pretty good but had heard rumors about them stocking hybrids or some kind of fish that has supposedly does harm to the crappie population. Can anyone tell me if this is the case. I kind of dought it but I told him I would try to research it. Any info would be greatly appreciated thanks.
    There has been no such stocking of a "hybrid" fish that would do harm to the Crappie population. All predator fish species will eat the smaller members of other species, as well as their own. Watts Bar's Crappie population consists of White Crappie, Black Crappie, and stocked Blacknose Black Crappie. The Blacknose is not a hybrid, and has been in Watts Bar for decades.

    I've fished Watts Bar for decades, first for Smallmouth, then mostly for Crappie (over the last 20yrs). Back when I first started fishing there, the locals were all up in arms over the Stripers ... stating that they were eating all the Crappie and that's why they weren't catching them "like they used to". Turned out to be a false claim and just an excuse for their failure.

    Watts Bar has gone through some changes and cycles, just like any other large lake. IMHO .... the one "change" that has affected the lake the most, was when they changed the timing of the water level rise/fall. That and the cyclic nature of Crappie populations in general has changed the normal dynamics of when & where the fish will be ... vs where/when they "used to be" there. In recent years, I've caught spawning Crappie 10ft deep (Spring) and most recently (this past Oct) found them 30ft deep at the end of blowdown trees. Now, I'm fishing the main portion of the lake, not up in the river. Reports from the river end have remained consistant, with shallow fish being caught Spring & Fall. "Normally" (prior to 2005) I would be catching Spring Crappie in less than 8ft of water, around brush or docks ... and Fall Crappie in around 15-20ft of water around brush or docks.

    ... pappy

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Grandville, MI
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    Quote Originally Posted by crappiepappy View Post
    There has been no such stocking of a "hybrid" fish that would do harm to the Crappie population. All predator fish species will eat the smaller members of other species, as well as their own. Watts Bar's Crappie population consists of White Crappie, Black Crappie, and stocked Blacknose Black Crappie. The Blacknose is not a hybrid, and has been in Watts Bar for decades.

    I've fished Watts Bar for decades, first for Smallmouth, then mostly for Crappie (over the last 20yrs). Back when I first started fishing there, the locals were all up in arms over the Stripers ... stating that they were eating all the Crappie and that's why they weren't catching them "like they used to". Turned out to be a false claim and just an excuse for their failure.

    Watts Bar has gone through some changes and cycles, just like any other large lake. IMHO .... the one "change" that has affected the lake the most, was when they changed the timing of the water level rise/fall. That and the cyclic nature of Crappie populations in general has changed the normal dynamics of when & where the fish will be ... vs where/when they "used to be" there. In recent years, I've caught spawning Crappie 10ft deep (Spring) and most recently (this past Oct) found them 30ft deep at the end of blowdown trees. Now, I'm fishing the main portion of the lake, not up in the river. Reports from the river end have remained consistant, with shallow fish being caught Spring & Fall. "Normally" (prior to 2005) I would be catching Spring Crappie in less than 8ft of water, around brush or docks ... and Fall Crappie in around 15-20ft of water around brush or docks.

    ... pappy
    We have striper/hybrids/white bass stocked in our GA lakes. Pappy is right, they don't affect the crappie population. I have caught numerous stocked fish over the last 30 years and have never had one spit up a crappie of any size. They have spit up dozens of thread fin shad though.
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2018
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    Oak Ridge
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    Wrong answer re. crappie

    My family bought a lake cabin on Watts Bar in 1970. I am 51. I started fishing for crappie in the mid 1970s. As did many of my friends and relatives that would come to our lake cabin. The crappie fishing in the 70s was incredible. People came from Kentucky, Ohio and other states to catch crappie in late March and April. Anyone that wished could catch as many crappie as they wanted. There were 5 bait shops within 2 miles of our cabin. Well that all changed when TWRA started stocking rock fish in the early to mid 1980s. The crappie fishing got decimated. People say oh no the rockfish just eat shad. That's so wrong. If the rockfish just eat shad than why do rockfish out fits have their clients use bluegill and small crappie in order to try to catch 30 plus pound rock fish. Maybe TWRA's intentions were good but we all know how that one goes. And BTW I have used bluegill to catch rockfish. So I know personally that they don't JUST eat shad. Crappie fishing never been the same since 70s. So sad.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2018
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    Oak Ridge
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    Spittin up the right answer.

    With all due respect and I do say with all due respect rockfish don't spit up anything. Its whats in their gut that matters. In 1994/95 fishing groups sued TWRA and got a moratorium on stocking of the non native rockfish. TWRA was also ordered to open up the guts of the Rockfish at the university of Miss. They found a lot more than shad. No offense but how can ppl b so na´ve? Bigger fish, esp aggressive ones like rockfish, eat smaller fish. Full stop. They don't care what type it is.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2018
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    Oak Ridge
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    Excuse for failure

    I know too much about how to catch fish and have conversed with too many others to buy the "excuse for their failure claim". Basically what you are saying is this. As a 9-13 yr old kid I succeeded wildly when I would go to my 2 or 3 crappie spots EVERY year and catch baskets full. Though, myself and the people with me would let the small ones go and would only keep what we were going to eat. We would have a handful of fish fries every year.
    Back to point. Back then I didn't know anything about jig presentation, weather conditions, the effects of depth and so much more. I do now. I am more skilled now. I just don't find the numbers or any where close. Its the same with night fishing under a lantern. The numbers decreased dramatically to the pt where n the 90s crappie practically didn't exist. Therefore I doubt I am "failing now" while I was succeeding wildly, and watching others do same, n the 70s and early 80s/

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
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    Lexington, Kentucky, USA.
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    Old Timer .... yes, Striped Bass can & do eat smaller fish of various species, Crappie included. But, their foraging technique is basically running in packs & attacking schools of Shad. We have lakes up here that have Stripers in them and still produce quality & quantities of large Crappie ... we also have lakes that have Muskie in them, and they too produce Crappie in numbers/size. They also have large populations of Black Bass, which are much more likely to be in the same area & cover that Crappie would be in & certainly don't discriminate by species what they eat.

    I think the decline of "numbers" in the Crappie population can be attributed to weather changes, water level changes, and periodic poor spawns due to those changes. I've fished the lake a couple of times a year, or at least once a year, over the last 40yrs. I don't have records of what my success rate was back in the 80's & 90's .... but, I did run a twice a year "tourney" from 2000-2005 & there was no shortage of fish brought in back then, even from some anglers that had never fished the lake before.

    The records I do have (2006, 2007, 2009, 2010) from my mid April trips, show a decent success rate of around 25-50 keeper fish for two full days of fishing (2 anglers). The last 8yrs have not been that productive in numbers, but the quality in size has remained.

    I suspect the TVA's decision to delay the full pool filling of the lake by a whole month (2010 proposal) has added an element to the interruption and/or demise of normal spawning conditions .... and that has had a greater impact on the Crappie population than the predation by the Striped Bass (Rockfish). Even your own local wildlife biologist said this at the 2010 proposal meeting : TWRA Fisheries Biologist Anders Myhr said that the fluctuating lake levels after the fish begin to spawn will hurt the spawn. "We would be lucky to have a good spawn one in every 10 years." The "fluctuating lake levels" he was referring to are the TVA's plan to allow the lake to begin to fill the first of April, but stop & hold it at the 738 level until May 15 when it would be allowed to rise to the 741 Full Pool level ... whereas before then it would have reached the 741 Summer Pool level by APRIL 15th.

    With Crappie lifespans being in the 6-7yr range ... the mortality rate would have taken many fish out of the picture in the last 10yrs. And if you couple that with early season flooding, fast draw downs to ease the flooding, ever changing weather patterns during the spawning period (late season cold spells, early season hot weather), and the water conditions all of that precipitates ... then one need not be a biologist to understand why the numbers are not what they once were.

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