MDC looks for answers through crappie surveys

Friday, March 7, 2003

DeLaney Lake -- formerly Upper Big Lake -- and Lake Wapappello are popular fishing spots in Southeast Missouri, and because of the high angler use, Missouri Department of Conservation personnel conduct annual fish population surveys in both lakes.

According to survey results, it appears anglers are harvesting a high percentage of the white crappie population.

Crappie populations in several of Missouri's large reservoirs have been effectively managed with minimum length limits of nine or 10 inches, depending upon the reservoir. These regulations have been effective because the crappie populations in these reservoirs exhibited fast growth (over nine inches in three years) and high angler harvest (about 60 percent annually). In Lake Wapappello and DeLaney Lake, white crappie growth is very good.

This month, Missouri Department of Conservation personnel will tag crappie in both lakes to determine angler harvest. The crappie will be tagged just below the dorsal fin with a spaghetti tag. These tags get their name because they look like a one inch piece of spaghetti. The tags are worth $10 (95 percent), $25 (4 percent) or $100 (1 percent) if returned to the Department of Conservation. If you catch a tagged crappie, please send the tag, date you caught the fish, the length of the fish, your name and address and whether you kept or released the fish to the Department of Conservation.

Knowledge of angler harvest will enable us to evaluate if harvest regulation changes will improve the size structure of the crappie population and ultimately make crappie fishing better. Based on this, survey length limits and daily bag limits will be reviewed.

For additional information pertaining to this study or to return a tag, please contact me at or Mark Boone at

Paul Cieslewicz is a fisheries agent with the Missouri Department of Conservation.

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