PITTSBORO, N.C. (June 13, 2013) — N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission personnel met with anglers concerned about the crappie population in Jordan Reservoir on June 1 at the Farrington Point Boating Access Area in Chatham County.
Fisheries Biologists Jessica Baumann and Corey Oakley, along with Wildlife Officer Bryan Scruggs, met with approximately 20 members of crappie.com, an online discussion forum about crappie, to discuss preliminary results from the 2012 Jordan Reservoir Black Crappie Survey.
Biologists conducted the survey in October and November 2012, collecting 2,247 fish using trap nets and gill nets.Trap nets collect fish that are schooling along the shoreline and are the traditional gear biologists use to sample crappie in Piedmont reservoirs. Gill nets are used to collect fish that are schooling offshore in deeper water, but tend to only collect the larger black crappie in a population.
“One of our concerns prior to the 2012 black crappie survey was the reported decrease in the number of larger fish being caught by anglers,” Baumann said. “So, we decided to include the use of gill nets in this survey due to an abundance of larger black crappie collected using this gear in2010 while sampling striped bass in the reservoir.
“By using both gears it allowed us to sample both near shore and offshore habitats in order to get a better representation of the size range of black crappie in Jordan Reservoir.”
Of the 1,221 fish they collected using trap nets, 11 percent were of harvestable size (10 inches), which is down from the 32 percent reported in 2010. However,of the 1,026 fish collected using gill nets 45 percent were harvestable size.
Biologists also looked at the overall body condition of black crappie— the weight of a fish compared to its length — and found that the fish have average body conditions for a Piedmont reservoir. The largest fish they collected measured 14 ½ inches and weighed 2.2 pounds.
Overall, the 2012 survey showed that fish were growing at a slower rate in 2012 compared to 2009. In 2009, fish were growing to 10 inches in two to three years, while in the 2012 survey, the fish that were 10 inches in length were 4 to 5 years old. However, this decrease in growth rate is occurring with fish that are greater than 2 years old. The survey also showed a large percent of 2 year olds in the population, which shows good reproduction, and these fish had similar growth rates to the 2 year olds sampled in 2009.
According to Baumann, the decrease in growth rate for larger fish could be attributed to a lack of food due to a threadfin shad fish kill in the winter of 2011, as well as, a lack of fish greater than10 inches in the survey. “However, the threadfin shad population is recovering, through stocking by the Wildlife Resources Commission and natural reproduction,and hopefully that will lead to increased growth rates of crappie in future samples,” Baumann said.
Overall, the Jordan Reservoir black crappie population seems to be recovering from the effects of the 2011 threadfin shad fish kill. There was a shift in the population from the majority of fish being 8 inches or greater in 2009 to the majority of fish being 9 inches or less in the 2012. However, there is currently a large percentage of black crappie in the lake that are 8 to 9 inches that are in good condition, and these fish should reach harvestable size by next year’s survey.
Biologists will continue to survey the black crappie population at Jordan Reservoir on a yearly basis to monitor the population’s recovery.
“We understand the concern from anglers when changes occur to a fishery that they love, and meeting with angler groups is a great way to address these concerns,” Baumann said. “We enjoy these face-to-face meetings with anglers because it’s a great way to share information not only from us to them, but also, from them to us.”
Download a summary of results here.
For more information on fishing in public, inland waters, visit the fishing page.