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Lowe

Another Year Class

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Lowe

Besides the '95 and '97 fish, there appears to be another year class of crappies biting on Red.

Earlier in the year, I aged a few crappies from URL(using their scales). I found most of the fish from 12" to 13-3/4" were from the '95 year class, which came as no surprise. The 11"-11.5"ers were actually from the '97 year class, which is a pretty good growth rate. I didn't keep any fish around 10", although we did catch a few.

Jigglestick sent me scales from two fish, a 10"er and a 13.5". The 13.5 was almost 7 years old - hatched in the spring of 1995. Again, no big surprise.

The 10"er was hatched in the spring of 1998.

How many people out there have caught crappies on URL 10" or less? I've heard there was just the two main year classes, but there is another, and the number of "little" guys out there might mean a few more years of good crappie fishing on Red.

If anyone catches a 15"+ crappie out of Red, and sends me a couple scales, we might also know how old these fish will get before they die of natural causes.

Jigglestick - next time, in order for my count to be slightly more accurate, send the fillets, too! ;-)

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LaVoi

That's good news to hear. Do you need to be skilled to age a fish by their scales or is it something anyone could do. Just wondering. Good fishin, LaVoi

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jigglestick

lowe--just as i suspected. we have caught many of these fish in the 10 inch range this year. oh yeah that's right i forgot that would be impossible, as they don't exist smile.gif
i mean many as in maybe a couple of hundred? with most of them still swimming. keep the larger fish as they will die of old age within a few years anyhow, let the smaller ones get bigger so we can kick some crappie @$$ for years to come. oh yeah why don't you come up and get some samples with me? probably better carry your gear in your own truck, as the vaccum of the red lake triangle is strong. it sucked the auger right out of the back of my truck, and discarded it like plain white trash frown.gif
thanks man-------jigglestick-----------

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Lowe

LaVoi - You count the rings in the scales under a microscope, much like counting the rings in a tree stump, if not quite as easy. I'm a biologist - I learned this in one of my ichthyology classes.

Jigglestick - I think this might be worth many years of research up on Red. It'll be tough, all that fishing (and toasting the crappie gods for giving us another year class) but somehow I think we'll manage. Hundreds of 'em, huh? Awesome. There should a 10" minimum size limit placed on Red immediately - take the old ones!

Thanks for sending the scales, jiggles.

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JAR JAR

A few weeks ago we caught some 8"-9" fish maybe smaller.They also went back down the hole.This is agood sign that they are reproducing but I still think that what people say about fishing out the lake is pure bull.Just think, we only can fish 1/3 of the lake that means 2/3 goes untouched and the fish do not only hold in the eastern end of the lake.So my theory is that we have many years of good fishing left and so do are children
JUST MY 2 CENTS smile.gif
JAR JAR

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Lowe

Jar Jar - I think the main problem for the crappies is not overfishing, but the increasing walleye population. They are the lake's natural primary predator, and as they mature they will use their aggresive nature and Red's almost perfect walleye spawning habitat to slowly regain their niche that the crappie now holds.

I think the significance of another year class is good news - now. But in another five to ten years I think it will be tough for crappies to hold their own. That's not to say they will disappear, of course. I've talked to people who have caught crappies up there for many years, and they'll never disappear from the lake.

Ina lot of ways, URL reminds me of Lake Superior. When they were introduced, both steelhead and salmon populations went skyhigh, when both the lamprey and commercial fishing removed the lake trout from the "top" of the food chain. The steelhead and salmon filled the niche the lake trout vacated, like the crappies on URL are filling the niche the walleyes once held. But now the lake trout are rebounding, and the lake is returning to its original predator/prey relationships (lake trout eating herrings or cyscos). Nature has a way of reverting to form, I guess.

But, considering the problems some lakes are facing, losing your crappie population to a healthy walleye population isn't all that bad. :-)

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7 grand kids

Lowe-Thanks for the info in your post. I have played around with scale ageing since I have access to a microscope. It's a little tricky but I think I have it. I'm in southern MN and aged some crappies that were 10.5" long, it appears they came from 1998. I thought I was off because that seemed like fast growth but I see from your post that a 10" fish was from 1998.

I have read mixed reports from states experimenting with the size thing, but with such an unusual opportunity on URL it seems to be worth trying (the 10" min). The chance may never come again. I have read the DNR's position on URL but I wish they would be a bit more aggressive in trying this since there appears to be mounting evidence of successful year classes. I just don't see where it would hurt even if it did fail. Your thoughts?

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bigV

gls
I think the 10" minimum seems like a good idea on the surface. The problem is I don't think it would have much of an effect. The majority of the fish caught are larger than that and people catching a bunch of fish less than that likely have caught a bunch larger as well and are throwing the small ones back anyway. Maybe with some more ideas and facts presented a case can be made. It's worth discussing!

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fish_on_llc

Just Curious,

Does the DNR proport that crappie production in URL has been non-existent since the 1998 year class, or are the subsequent year classes so weak as a result of the slowly resurging walleye population that they don't show up in any creel or angler surveys?? It would seem highly unlikely that the lake wouls shut down natural production all together just because walleye fingerling and juvenile numbers have been increasing.
Also, do the natives perform any surveys of lake populations on their portion of the lake. Are the crappies decreasing in size throughout the lake or just in the areas open to heavy sport angling?
I have heard that a few years ago(1999-2000) it was not uncommon to leave the lake with a limit of 14-16" crappies. It would seem that now the 15" fish are the a rarity and limits of 11-13" fish are now the norm. I wonder if transplanting some of these adult crappies to other lakes in the region where walleye populations are weaker would produce a trophy fishery in the future?
Lastly, studies have shown that Bull Bluegills will only grow as large as teh biggest male in the school, and that C&R can preserve a trophy bluegill fishery. Does this not apply to URl because the female crappies are the rophy fish and not the males. Any thoughts? Just my $.02 worth

Good Luck!
Fish ON!

------------------
Jeff Phelan
Fish On LLC
fish_on_llc@hotmail.com

[This message has been edited by fish_on_llc (edited 04-03-2002).]

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kelly-p

The average size of the crappies this year is bigger then any of the past 6 years.
1996----4 1/2 inches. 1997-----6". 1998-----8". 1999-----10". 2000, a poor sampling year but 10 1/2". 2001----11". We used to pick through the little ones to get those big ones.
My feeling is that those big 16 or 17" fish died of old age.
The test nets in the native waters show just as many crappies as this side of the "line".

------------------
Waskish Minnow Station
218-647-8652

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Drake

Just within the past couple of weeks we've been getting a few of the smaller crappies...in the 8"-9" range. Back down the hole they go, but it's good to see some of the little guys in there smile.gif

------------------
Drake Motel
drakemotel.com
(888)253-8501
drake@blackduck.net

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Lowe

Kelly,

Were the crappies still in big schools like this when the walleyes were around? Or were they scattered for most of the year?


I don't think a 10" minimum would ever be enforced by the DNR, either, because they're managing URL as a walleye lake. But the more 10"ers that stay in the lake the better, as far as I'm concerned.

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Stud

Thanks for the info Kelly-p, very interesting. Looks to me like the best fishing is yet to come when the 95 year class reachs a 14" - 15" average.

Stud

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Surface Tension

On one outing 50% of the catch was 10" and under.
47000 lb's for a yearly take for the tribe. That would be like a weeks harvest for the sportfishermen.

With all the perch I think it's going to be tough for a crappie to defend its nest.
Save a Crappie eat a perch. smile.gif

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kelly-p

I've been told that the crappies only spawn in the lake but last summer there were some 1 inch crappies in the river. Did they come up from the lake or did the crappies spawn up river?

------------------
Waskish Minnow Station
218-647-8652

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Surface Tension

If there's slack water and the right bottom I'm sure they would spawn there. I've caught them in river's with slow moveing water and a lake close by in the spring.

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Lowe

I'm not entirely sure, but I doubt that those young crappies would migrate up the river. Is the river slow-moving? What I mean is would it be suitable for crappie spawning? I think I read in one of your old posts that there were a lot of "silver dollar" crappies in the river. Who knows, maybe crappies have historically followed the walleyes up the rivers to eat young walleye fry before they (the crappies) spawn.

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Guest

Lowe...Welcome! Good to have another biologist aboard. I started fishing URL in '97 and there were very few people that even knew about the crappies. On certain days I felt like I owned the lake. Of course they were harder to find back then because there were very few age classes. Much larger fish were being caught and most of those fish were from the resident population before the huge age class was produced in '95. The one thing I am noticing now is 1/2 pound fish, but not enough of them to substantiate a strong year class! Almost everyone of those fish from the '91 age class have died due to natural mortality. I think last year there was 4-5 fish caught in the 17" class and maybe more that were not reported. These were the last of the giants so to speak. Now with the walleyes taking hold the crappie population will drop unless spawning conditions for the next two years are phenominal. One other side note that a lot of people do not know is that the Indians on both Upper and Lower Red have been harvesting crappies as subsistance and as a replacement for the walleyes. One estimate I recieved was that 47,000 pounds was harvested last year alone.

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