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Agronomist_at_IA

Where have all the crappie gone?

87 posts in this topic

How's the crappie bite been on Upper Red? My group came up in Dec. and caught a lot of walleye. Now were going to come up around the 17 of Feb. and are looking at trying to catch some of those mud flap crappies. So anyone have some tips for the crappie?

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It is still a bit early in the season for the fast and furious crappie action. We are seeing more and more everyday as they build up to March madness.

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I am planning a trip the weekend of Feb.9, I hope we are not too early! I have no idea where to go but we will try our luck, I will let you know if we find em.

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In my opinion, there are 2 types of ice fisherman that have success with crappies on URL now.

1- Lucky!

2- Hard Working!

You either sit down right on top of a memory making school, or... you have to bust your but augering holes to find the school. My experience from last winter suggests that 'Hard Working' pays off. 'Borch' and I ran into a bunch of success last winter but we also went through a tank of auger gas each in the process. We probably did more hole augering than fishing when it was all said and done but it paid big dividends!

We also intend to invest 3 solid days this year as well finding fish for the Slabfest III weekend in late February.

I'm not sure the question should be "Where have the crappies gone?" because they are out there, the question is how hard are you willing to work to find them.

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I've heard a few people suggest that the walleyes have been overstocked, and they're feeding on the young crappies, which leaves some slabs out there but not enough young crappies to make up for the catch each year. Could something like that be happening?

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Not trying to start a walleye versus crappie war, but you have the second most productive walleye waters in the state, essentially a giant windblown sand and gravelly shoal. If the state didn't stock a single walleye and the lake had a walleye moratorium, walleye would have returned to present levels in 12-25 years on their own. Instead the state enriched the effort with stocking and the fish returned in 5 or 6 years instead.

Then you look at the crappies. As has been pointed out in other threads in this forum, it took the right alignment of the moon and stars, some voodoo witchdoctors speaking in tongues, and the right combinations of wind and water temperature to create this giant crappie hatch in the spring of '95.

My point is I wouldn't put the blame squarely on walleye overstocking...There will always be a few slabs in this lake, you'll just always have to work for them, unlike the golden years of URL crappies from the turn over the century. You can't fit a square peg in a round hole, URL is walleye water.

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I think the crappie saved Upper Red Lake and more sould have been done to ensure that kind of crappie fishing for a longer time. I believe the DNR should have reduced daily limits of crappie to five per day and put less emphasis on the walleye restock.

Granted the tribe did more than the state to reintroduce the walleye to the lake but the state should have done little to nothing in my opinion. The crappie boom did more for the non-indian locals of Upper Red Lake than a two walleye limit ever will. The tribe needed the walleye back so they could resume commercial fishing operations. Non-indian people making money on Upper Red did not need the walleye back if the crappies could have stayed around longer until the walleye came back naturally. I dont know if walleye wil eat small crappies but there is definatley more compition for forage in the lake with the walleye.

In my opinion the state should have looked out for the best intrest on its own tax paying citizens of Upper Red "crappies" rather than trying to keep good political relations with the "independent nation" of the Red Lake Band "walleye".

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I for one would love to see Red stay a crappie lake but as stated the walleyes would have made a comeback anyways. The DNR would have had to figure out a way to spawn out the crappies because natural reproduction wasn't working near to the effect that the 1 perfect year did. Now figure all the man hours it would take the DNR to keep Red full of crappies compared to helping the walleyes "catch up" and letting them reproduce naturally.

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Red just isn't crappie water as was stated.

Then you look at the crappies. As has been pointed out in other threads in this forum, it took the right alignment of the moon and stars, some voodoo witchdoctors speaking in tongues, and the right combinations of wind and water temperature to create this giant crappie hatch in the spring of '95.

The DNR said something like "if the wind doesn't blow for two weeks we can get a good hatch of crappies". How often does this happen on Red? How many years with no walleyes were there and the crappies only had ONE good hatch 1995. Even with all the big spawners out there in 2000 (eight years ago) they couldn't pull off a hatch.

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As much as I have enjoyed coming up to URL the past 9 years to catch crappies, I am very glad they restocked the walleyes when they did. Nobody knew it wes going to be as successful so quick. Good thing, in general crappies rarely live over 12 years of age, so even if we hadn't harvest so many most would be dying of natural mortality very soon and the bite would die with it, and possably bring the Waskish community with it like the walleye crash did. the walleye recovery couldn't of come at a better time in IMO.

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I must admit that the DNR did the right thing in restocking the walleyes. Even without the abundance of crappies in the lake there are still problems trying to find a house to stay out of during the winter and seeing pics from opener, the placed looked pack. I'm sure resort owners aren't complaining on bit.

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 Originally Posted By: hanson
In my opinion, there are 2 types of ice fisherman that have success with crappies on URL now.

1- Lucky!

2- Hard Working!

You either sit down right on top of a memory making school, or... you have to bust your but augering holes to find the school. My experience from last winter suggests that 'Hard Working' pays off. 'Borch' and I ran into a bunch of success last winter but we also went through a tank of auger gas each in the process. We probably did more hole augering than fishing when it was all said and done but it paid big dividends!

We also intend to invest 3 solid days this year as well finding fish for the Slabfest III weekend in late February.

I'm not sure the question should be "Where have the crappies gone?" because they are out there, the question is how hard are you willing to work to find them.

Hanson pretty much nailed it. The crappies seem to have returned to their normal levels based on what I've heard. Many guys have begun the "crappies are done in URL" speach too soon in my opinion. I think I've heard it now for th past 5 years. Granted the boom is over. If fisherman had only had a 5 fish limit the population would still be on the decline as crappies from the 95 hatch reach the end of their life cycle. I have definitely been encouraged as I caught crappies from multiple year classes the past three seasons. In fact, my last outing last March I caught crappies from many year classes with fish from 9-14.75".

I'm looking forward to one of my best years this winter as last winter ranked right up there with best winters I've had for slabs in the past 6 years, (the walleye fishing wasn't too bad either).

Good Luck!

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 Originally Posted By: mobiusdog
I've heard a few people suggest that the walleyes have been overstocked, and they're feeding on the young crappies, which leaves some slabs out there but not enough young crappies to make up for the catch each year. Could something like that be happening?

I would like to catch the walleyes that eat Upper Red Crappies!

It does boil down to the fact Upper Red Lake is not a panfish lake, period. We have no backwaters, bays or truly good spawning grounds for the crappies and the natural order of the lake is walleye. If ma nature wanted Crappies in this lake she would have made it deeper with backwaters, instead mankind nudged the nature machine hard enough to put it into a tailspin and the Black Crappie just happen to be in the right place ant the right time. A huge void was left open during a perfect spring for crappie spawn that happens once in a blue moon, on a leap year, during the year of the rat.

Something that many don't realize is when Red Lake was known as a dead water you glanced at off the bridge on the way to Lake of the Woods we had crappies. I caught a stringer full in 1986 by accident. We never cared about some silly little panfish. Resorts, guides, anglers never went past the last break or 9 feet of water...ever. "Why leave the best walleye grounds. Just a bunch of small perch in 9-11 feet." When graphs came about high supended schools of fish where often just written off as whitefish going by.

They have always been here and always will be, the ease of catching them along with automatic trophy potentail is what made Upper Red famous again.

My guess for the future is if the crappies do fade Red will most likely slowly evolve back to what it was; a shallow sand basin lake with great walleye/pike/perch fishing. Fishouses will once again line the the last breakline, only difference in the future compaired to the past will be a few houses will be off in the horizon looking for crappies.

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Dispite how great the walleye fishing is I still feel Upper Red Lake is a CRAPPIE destination and the DNR should have tried to keep it that way. The DNR does not stock crappies. Why not? Look at Upper Red Lake last summer. Nobody was there. Why drive four hours from the cities, where most fishermen are from, for two fish when you can drive an hour and a half to Mille Lacs for four fish. If there was a hot bite on Mille Lacs this winter almost nobody would go to Red just for two walleyes. The state should have tried to ensure that Red Lake would remain a CRAPPIE destination. We have enough walleye lakes to choose from. We do not have very many crappie lakes like Red used to be. In my mind the state let their fisherman down based on politics and the local people of Upper Red will suffer because they do not have the CRAPPEIS they once had to attract the people.

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Very well said Jonny P

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 Quote:
Look at Upper Red Lake last summer. Nobody was there.

Nobody here.

This is 1/4 mile from the landing

openershinersbe8.jpg

One of seven ramps on the lake/river.

eastlandingmn1.jpg

Many poeple did not know Upper Red Lake before the Crappies. Ya we had a crash and nobody showed up, although before the crash it was a different story. As a young man growng up I remember our family's resort packed to the point poeple would park anywhere they could fit. Campers in the state park would be lined up all the way from the river to the road ditch often times with tent strings crossing each other and this was not once or twice a year this was every weekend.

Of course that was a time when anglers cared less about the biggest, best and easiest, we had anglers that just liked fishing and getting away. Move ahead to fast food becoming the norm, drive up everything became the only way and the "efficent angler" was marketed until the general menatality became go home limited or don't go at all.

The DNR could stock Crappie into Upper Red Lake until we have spent every last tax dollar and you know what 90% of those crappies would do? They will hit the water and head West until they find cool water with the right forage base to suit them, well I hate to say it but the average Minnesota angler can not fish this cool water as it is closed to fishing by a non-tribal angler.

As a guide I spend many many days on the water all summer long and I will tell you this, we had plenty of fishermen around this summer fishing walleye and pike. For a peroid it was bumber boats from the mouth of the river all the way down to the eastern rock piles.

As for attracting poeple to the Waskish community we love our anglers, mostly the anglers when the bite is slow. Yes we have had four or five days with a tough bite and everyone knows it, numbers are down this weekend. But one nice thing about bad fishing it brings the nicest poeple. Everyone on the lake is waving, friendly and just happy to be on the lake. When the bite gets hot the crowd turns a little bit grumpy. My guess it is anglers coming up to go through the "Fast Fish Drive Through" that don't have time to be friendly, they need to fill a bucket.

As clearly demostrated by mother nature we are not in control of what fish swims where, we just have to go with what she decides.

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Hey Johnny P. I didnt want to make you upset with my comments. However, I still believe the state had a valuable resource with the 95 year class and they should have tried to keep it that way. Why did the state emphasis walleyes so much when we all know what will happen, a crash due to over netting. The state can do what they can to ensure another crash will not happen but the state only controlls so much of the lake. Why not try to keep a fish that is less valuable to netting and more valuable to hook and line angling on the 1/3 of the lake we can enjoy. Yes it took vudue majic and what ever to make it happen but it happened. The state should have taken mother natures jump start and ran with it. Instead several years from now we will all be telling our kids, grand kids, about the huge crappeis and they will wonder why they no longer exsist. When I look at the pictures you post on this site I do not get excited about the 16 inch walleye, I get full blown torn up about the 14+ in crappie! I do not live around the Upper Red area but I do live around the Mille Lacs area and the two have the same issues. I just feel that the crappies offered something that could not be taken away from us with the treaty of 1837.

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Don't get me wrong. As a guide I would love to tell everybody that gets in the boat or steps into a sleeper house "Today we are going to catch our limit of 14"+ trophy crappies". Unfortunately from what I have learned from the fishery boys and other aquatic/marine life specialist we just couldn't pull it off no matter how hard we tried. So we have to run with what we have, a walleye lake. It is brought up at every advisory meeting, fisheries meeting and association meeting and the same answer is given, Upper Red can not sustain its own crappie population consistently and stocking could not maintain put and take needs.

Of course I'm not a fish specalist but I can see their point, especially when the crappies are in the shallows for spawn and we can't get the big guide boats on the lake because it is too rough or when every guide on the lake is loking for crappies in June and we can't find them.

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Good point! Mother nature will decide what is in the lake. But in this day and age most lakes, expecially southern parts of the state, maintain good walleye populations when they are unable to reproduce naturally at all. If the DNR can maintain walleye fry in thousands of lakes why cant they maintain a good crappie population in one. However, even if they did there would be nothing to stop the fry from swimming to the "other side." Maybe the golden days of the crappie on Uppper Red will come and go in ten or twenty year incroments, its going to suck waiting that long.

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Good post Jonny. Lets let the lake become what it once was. If the DNR were to stock crappies in the lake, we would get almost no benefits. They'd all go to the other half of the lake. We should just enjoy what we have know and in a couple years, if you catch a crappie, hopefully its the kind that can go on the wall.

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Remember that 3 main things have to happen to have it a trophy crappie destination again.

1 Remove all the walleyes and northerns that could eat the crappie fry.

2 Have the crappies pull off another 1 in a million spawn.

3 No fishing in URL for 5 to 6 years while the crappies grow.

That is what it took to get the crappie boom in the past but I would guess that your fellow fishermen might have an issue with #3.

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I totally enjoy fishing Red even today. One can catch many eyes, large northerns and maybe a few nicer crappies.

There are not many lakes that offer this type of fishing left in Minnesota. One can still go fishing on Red and enjoy these specie. We all need to pratice C & R and enjoy what this great fishery offers.

Many lakes just cannot sustain the fish levels with the pressure that Red recieves. Its still a wonderful lake to fish and I enjoy every day I have the chance to fish Red.

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Good morning...

A little on the cool side here - about -20 - but hey, it's January.

I've fished Red Lake since the 60's - (back in the good ol' days - ask Kelly grin.gif) and the first time I remember catching a crappie was sometime around 1980 up on the north shore past Hudecs. I didn't even know there was any crappies in the lake. As Jonny said, when people went ice fishing, they never got past the last break, and another thing is people didn't fish at night because there wasn't any need to - they already had their limits of walleyes.

The trouble with crappie lakes - besides what has already been mentioned - is that when there is a hot crappie bite going on, the news spreads like wildfire, and it doesn't take very long before the lake is fished out again. Fun while it lasts, but not good in the down cycles. What we saw with the "crappie boom" is probably never going to happen again - it was just a fluke of nature.

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the crappies are all gone, fished out

jk

I give it 12 months

unless people start practicing catch, shoot, and release

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harvey lee,

i totally agree with you. i live next to soome of the best walleye lakes in the state mille lacs, pelican, north long, gull, and each year i find myself pulling my shack up to red at least 2 if not 3 times in a winter. for me it's just the chance to get some slabs maybe a big pike and catch some walleyes. i've never had a bad trip to red, i've had some not so productive ones but that doesn't mean i didn't have fun. for me there is nothing better than all the boys getting together pulling the houses up there and staying for the weekend, having a fish fry and a few cocktails. that's what it's all about in my book.

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