Worry not, Kansas crappie fishermen.
Just because the high, muddy water at reservoirs such as Perry, Clinton, Pomona or Tuttle Creek keeps you from finding fish, that doesn’t mean the spawn will be a bust.
The crappies will spawn; you just might not catch them doing it.
“It’s been a strange year,” said Chuck Bever, northeast regional fisheries supervisor for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. “We had that warm weather in March, then we had some cold fronts move through, and after that we had that heavy rain that raised water levels at some of our reservoirs.
“Fishermen haven’t found as many crappies on the banks as they normally do. But they’ll spawn somewhere.
“We’ve had some of our best year-classes of fish in years like this.”
The key? Having good nursery habitat.
High water often floods new cover that boosts the survival chances of newly hatched fry. But that isn’t always as easy as it sounds. When the water gets as high as it is at Tuttle Creek and Perry (9 feet high), Pomona (8 feet high) and Clinton (7 feet high), the Corps of Engineers often releases water quickly to guard against the effects of future spring rains. That can strand eggs on dry land and hurt the overall productivity of the spawn.
Still, Bever is optimistic.
“If we could have the high water for an extended period of time, that would be ideal,” he said. “But even if that doesn’t happen, we’ll have a crappie spawn.
“Northeast Kansas has good crappie populations because the water is fertile, we have good habitat, good shad populations, and good growth rates of the fish.”