Anglers competing in the Beaver Lake Crappie Series L.O. VanZant Memorial Tournament on Beaver Lake did more than show off their skills, they also contributed to the future of fishing in northwest Arkansas.
Thanks to a partnership between tournament directors and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, 130 crappie were placed in the lake’s nursery pond to lay eggs and produce hundreds of thousands of crappie fingerlings that will be released into the lake later in the year.
Jon Stein, fisheries regional supervisor for the AGFC, said nursery ponds can offer increased production for a specific species with little competition or outside influences.
“The nursery pond lets the small crappie grow with very few predators, increasing their hatching and survival rates,” Stein said. “The pond also is fertilized to produce a lot of food for the growing crappie, so they will hopefully get a jump start compared to if they were growing in the lake. This can add to their survival once released in late September when the water cools.”
Stein said black crappie and white crappie caught during the March 27-28 tournament were stocked in the 20-acre nursery and will spawn independently with very little hybridization.
“Both species coexist in the lake, so there’s no concern of issues in the nursery pond.”
The Beaver Lake nursery pond has been used since the mid-1980s to boost the reproduction of many species of fish.
“The nursery pond was used to stock smallmouth bass fingerlings when the AGFC established smallmouth in Beaver Lake in the ‘80s,” Stein said. “Bass, walleye, crappie, and recently forage species such as threadfin shad, redear sunfish and bluegill have been stocked using the nursery pond over the years.”
Stein said that when this year’s crop of fish is ready for release, he hopes to have anywhere from 250,000 to 500,000 fingerlings swimming in its waters.