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GENTLE

Is There Nothing That Can Be Done??

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Phil do you think you would see the same amount of downturn though if you were above the dam vs. below.

Obviously even reasonable flows can turn wading fly fishermen away, moderate flood gates open can turn people uncomfortable with boating in current away but does the same downturn hold true with high water on the "lake" side of things?

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14 hours ago, Devan S. said:

Phil do you think you would see the same amount of downturn though if you were above the dam vs. below.

Obviously even reasonable flows can turn wading fly fishermen away, moderate flood gates open can turn people uncomfortable with boating in current away but does the same downturn hold true with high water on the "lake" side of things?

I wouldn't think so...  no way to really know unless you did a study and use real data.

It's how people perceive things... high water, low water.  It's relative.  Some like it high and some like it low.  "Flooding" is a negative for sure and people will tend to stay away from areas that are "flooded".  We get frustrated with news outlets that say Branson is "flooded" when we're really not.  People will and have stayed away from Branson when it's reported we're "flooding" - when the strip and shows are not affected at all.

As far as TR... I can only speculate.  But high water only enhances a fishery, as far as the fish are concerned... most of the time.

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While I don't have any specific data, I would agree that high water likely reduces the number of users on Bull Shoals Lake which ultimately has an impact on the local economies. I'm good friends with the Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock crew and also work closely with the Lake Norfork Chamber of Commerce, so I am aware of the impacts on these types of businesses in this area.  One of the biggest issues with high water on Bull Shoals Lake is launching and parking. That is something that I feel the USACE should be focusing efforts right now. We (AGFC) have identified some areas at our accesses that we hope to improve that could alleviate some access issues on the lower end of Bull Shoals Lake.

As far as impacts of high water on fisheries within the Upper White River Basin, there are tons of data going back to the 60s showing the high water tends to have a positive impact on most of the native sport fish and forage fish in these reservoirs. For example, this year we completed an age and growth study on LMB in Norfork Lake. Almost 70% of the LMB sampled were produced during high water events (years: 2008, 11, 13, 15, and 17). Another example, last year, we conducted a similar age and growth study on Black Crappie in Norfork Lake. Ninety-eight percent of the Black Crappie sampled were produced during a high water year (years: 2015 and 17). On the other end of the spectrum, those that fished around here in the late 90s and early 2000s will recall how tough the fishing was here. It was quite possibly the worst it has ever been. The winning weights for many tournaments was less than 12 pounds with the check range being less than 10 pounds, even in the winter. The lower number of fish was the result of a long period of normal to lower water years which resulted in poor recruitment. I've only provided examples from north-central Arkansas because that is where I work. However, I know the biologists from Beaver and Table Rock could also present similar data because I hear similar results during our annual meeting.

To wrap things up, we hear quite often from anglers who are frustrated with access and fishing during high water years. We get it because we get frustrated with access as well. However, the long-term benefits to the fish populations as a result of high water outweighs the short-term inconveniences. Now don't get me wrong, I am not suggesting high water every other year like the current cycle we are in. However, it would be nice to have high water every 5 years or so.

Just my two cents…

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"I've only provided examples from north-central Arkansas because that is where I work. However, I know the biologists from Beaver and Table Rock could also present similar data because I hear similar results during our annual meeting."

I guess that's my cue to weigh-in on this subject.  I was responsible for managing fish populations in Beaver Lake from 1986-2014.  During that time I witnessed the dramatic effect of high water years on the fish population, not just the bass but all species of fish in the lake including the forage species.  The additional nutrients (primarily nitrogen and phosphorus) and the increased available cover (flooded brush and trees) created the perfect environment for dramatically increased spawns and better survivability of the young fish.  The combination of these factors usually resulted in a large year class of all fish and a better chance for the young fish to make it through the critical first year of their life (recruitment).  

Because of the numerous high water years during this period, I witnessed a fundamental change in the bass population from a lake dominated by spotted bass to a more balanced ratio of largemouth to spotted bass. Our fish population samples revealed that the largemouth bass spawn and recruitment was dramatically higher in the high water years when compared to normal or low water.  This information was instrumental in making the decision to extend the minimum length limit on largemouth bass in the 1990's in an attempt to help the largemouth hold their own against the more prolific spotted bass.

Of course, there was a down side to the high water years, fishing was usually tough due to the fish being scattered and the large amount of forage species available to them.  My favorite phrase regarding the high water years was, It's hard on the fisherman but good for the future of fishing.  The timing of the high water years was also a big factor.  Like mojorig indicated, a high water year every few years was ideal.  High water years that were too close tended to change the dynamic significantly. I observed back to back high water years were greatly different because the massive year class from the first year would suppress (consume) the spawn from the second year resulting in a reduced year class from the second year. 

I realize there are negative effects of high water on the economy that's associated with the lake especially for the marinas and parks but from a fish production standpoint, they are vital to maintaining good fish populations in these large reservoirs.

Hope this information was helpful!

    

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4 hours ago, snagged in outlet 3 said:

Looks like they have Table rock right where Johnny wants it.:)

 

Yup, for now, after the rain this week, Beav will get topped back off, Bull be back on the rise, TR might come come up a foot or so. What we need is a good 15" soaker, test some of the corps theories on lake management. Oh well I guess, maybe they'll get to normal by the time the spring rains get here.

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Did you know that before one of the floods... may be 2007... both TR and Beaver were very low.  TR was about 907 feet.

I do wish they'd go ahead and drop these lake levels.  TR is sitting at 917.2 feet and it's trickling through the dam right now.  It is a little frustrating.

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46 minutes ago, GENTLE said:

What we need is a good 15" soaker, test some of the corps theories on lake management.

I know you're frustrated, as I have been when trying to figure what the corp is doing or going to do.  But I don't think you really want to see this.....

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