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Champ188

Sunday, 1-7-18

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Donna and I launched at 8:00 at Lost Bridge to temps in the upper 30s, dark cloud cover and a brisk south wind. Not the worst of conditions for January although it did rain steady the last two hours. Water temps steady at 46-47. 

Threw a jerk bait, jig, Ned and Rock Crawler and caught fish on all but the latter. Found most of them still back in creeks on channel swings and secondary points. Mix of SM, LM and spots. Ended with a dozen total with 8 or 9 keepers. 

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Nice catch, especially considering the cold spell we experienced the last few weeks!  Looks like you guys have found a pretty good bite on the lower end of the lake.

I have to confess, few things give me greater pleasure than seeing a picture of an angler with a nice smallmouth bass caught from Beaver Lake.

When I first stated working for the AGFC as a fish management biologist in 1986, my supervisor, Ralph Fourt, made it clear that one of his main goals was to reestablish smallmouth bass in Beaver by utilizing the Beaver Lake nursery pond (which we were in the process of constructing). Smallmouth were present in the rivers when the lake was impounded but were outcompeted by the largemouth and spotted that proliferated in the new lake environment (lots of flooded brush and timber) and were almost non-existent in the fish population in 1986.

Ralphs' plan was too utilize heavy stockings of smallmouth fingerlings out of the nursery pond for several years to try to get the brownies going again.  We did this by going to Bull Shoals lake in the early Spring and catch a few hundred adult brood stock via electrofishing and transport them to the nursery pond to spawn and produce as many fingerlings as possible, then open the pond gate and stock both the adults and fingerlings into Beaver. We weren't very popular with the some of the Bull Shoals crowd.  We were branded by some as "fish stealers" because in their mind we were taking some of their fish. Some years it was tough to get enough brood stock because of bad weather and lake level conditions, so we worked with some of the tournament organizers to collect smallmouth brought in by contestants.  We made it clear that it was strictly voluntary and it was up to the angler to decide if they wanted to donate them to our cause or release them back into Bull Shoals. Almost all were glad to contribute because what we were trying to accomplish.  

 For several years it seemed like we were pouring the stocked fingerlings into a hole to disappear,  predation by other fish took a heavy toll on the fingerlings.  Scuba divers from the UofA  monitored the outflow from the nursery pond during the stockings and reported hundreds of white, spotted and largemouth bass that would eat so many of the fingerlings that they would end up laying on the bottom of the lake barely moving for hours.  In order to give the fingerlings a better chance to survive, we spent several years sinking brush, trees and pallet structures around the pond and outlet to give the fingerlings safe havens to avoid predation.  

For the first few years we observed minimal results during our electrofishing samples, only a few adult smallmouth in the vicinity of the nursery pond which were probably some of the brood stock that were released with the fingerlings. After a few years we started seeing them further and further down lake where the best smallmouth habitat is. At first we would only see a couple per night but in later years the numbers started increasing to a point where we were seeing 40 or 50 adults each night out of a couple hundred fish.  Can't tell you how great that felt! 

Being a fish management biologist was a great job but many of the rewards and goals were abstract, reflected In charts and graphs showing improvements in fish populations after a regulation change. But numbers reflected on a spreadsheet or chart aren't nearly as satisfying as seeing the visual evidence of a happy angler holding up a picture of a good fish!

Sorry about the long winded post but I figured some of the OAF anglers would enjoy hearing the story behind the smallmouth population in Beaver Lake. 

Way to Go Ralph, goal achieved!    

  

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Love reading stuff like that. Great read. Nice job Donna and Champ. I went out Friday for a few hours and I had to work for every bite. The 3 that I caught were quality at least. 2 lm and a fat Ky that probably weighed 7lbs total. Using a jig in brush piles shallow caught the LM and Redbug Rock Crawler caught the Ky. I fished Prairie Creek area. 

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