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J-Doc

Local Lakes? (Ft. Smith, Weddington, Elmdale, Tj House, Crystal Lake)

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Thank you Jon for posting here. We really appreciate your participation and your work.

Are there abundant and healthy populations of bluegills in these smaller lakes? My fear is that people are fishing them out as fast as you put them in. I have been on a few of these lakes and the population seems to be hurting.

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I struggled at lake fort smith two weekends ago and caught dink crappie at elmdale on Sunday. First trip to either. Last trip to elm dale I think. Used to slaughter big crappie at bob kid, but only in one particular spot on the old fence row between the fields. Have it in mind to try there again. Lots of cats and bream in bob kid as I recall.

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I have caught some very sizable bluegill in Bob Kidd for the past 3 years, especially at night with the fly rod in the NW corner. Bob Kidd has also been a good spot for us with the buzz bait as well, producing bass up to 3 lbs. Other than the NW and SW corner, I haven't had much luck elsewhere.

We used to go to Elmdale pretty frequently, before we discovered canoe fishing for smallmouth that is. Never did catch any big ones there but it was usually pretty solid. One of U of A bass fishing team members caught a 7lber in Elmdale fishing a football jig on a rock pile in the middle of lake right in the dog days of summer, so there are fish in there I believe. Plenty of bluegill there too in my experience.

Only been to Ft. Smith once and man was that a place pretty. Just an overall really unique and pleasant lake. There was very little traffic, NO trash, and lots of bass and bream, we stopped counting after a while. Good bites fishing the log jams from Jacks creek to Cow branch, C-rigging on the south side of the dike in any place with a good slope, and up in the cove with the marina. Caught some big shad too. Really cool place, definitely going back soon.

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My experience at both Elmdale and Lake Ft. Smith was quite different last year. Now that i have a new boat on order, I may give them both another try. I found a ton of crappie on Lake Ft. Smith but they wouldn't bite. All shorts too. I also read that there was a case of mercury poisoning in those fish so I wouldn't recommend eating very many. The AGFC website also has more information on that lake about the poisoning. So beware.

As for Elmdale, it's got more pressure on it than Beaver. I saw about 6-8 guys crammed into a bass boat and about 10-12 other boats. I swear I think they use a cast net there. With the new boat, I will have side imaging and I can scan around and get an idea of the lake better. Will do the same thing for Lake Ft. Smith. I plan on renting a cabin down there for the weekend and just having myself a "man-retreat". It truely is a nice place and peacefull. Having the big 115 on that little lake will make me feel like a jet boat!!! lol

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Feathers and Fins,

We have also noticed an increase in bigger walleye in our winter gill net sampling. We use multi-panel gill nets to sample walleye, white bass, hybrids and striped bass in the winter months and our catches of walleye have increased each year. The high water years in 2008 and 2011 produced 2 huge year classes of walleye and the 2008 year class ranges from 18-23".

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J-Doc,

Bob Kidd has very good bluegill and redear fisheries. We have been sampling the lake for a couple of years with hoop nets and in 2012 we caught over 770 redear in our nets, which is an incredible catch rate. Some of the redear were over 12 inches long. The largemouth bass population on Bob Kidd is very healthy and there are lots of smaller bass, which is what we want. The smaller bass keep the bluegill and redear numbers in check and the ones that survive being eaten grow very fast. We also caught quite a few bluegill in Bob Kidd during our sampling.

We will be sampling this summer and fall to evaluate channel catfish, bluegill, redear and crappie fisheries in many of the smaller lakes in NWA. We have begun a channel catfish study on 8 of the local smaller lakes and will continually monitor the bluegill, redear and crappie fisheries as well.

Jon Stein

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Awesome!!! Thanks for the report! My new alum. boat on order can't get here fast enough now. Lol. Ready to take the whole family for a fishing trip for panfish.

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