Around the Boathouse

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The stocking of threadfin shad gives a big boost to a lake with hungry predators, particularly in improvement in relative weight of each predator. The shad are an important food source. We all like big bass, of course.

The Charlie Craig State Fish Hatchery at Centerton in northwest Arkansas produced a bumper crop of threadfin shad this year, according to the AGFC Fisheries Division. The hatchery started with 2,740 adult fish (67 pounds) in 5 acres of ponds and produced 606,100 shad yearlings (2,200 pounds). The hatchery stocked 594,900 of those shad into lakes around the state. The  11,200 held back will be kept ndoors through the winter to be used as broodstock for the next production season.

In the northwest portion of Arkansas, the hatchery recently stocked Lake Elmdale (12,000 shad), Lake Fort Smith (52,000 shad) and Sugarloaf Lake (105,000 shad).

But the Fisheries Division also notes that there is a small window of time to harvest threadfin shad in order to minimize harvest mortality. Water temperatures cannot be too warm or too cold. The hatchery staff has found that it is best to harvest threadfin shad when water temperature ranges 65-70 degrees. Once the water temperatures are in this range, the ponds are drawn down and harvested.

In the Centerton area, cold snaps can significantly drop pond temperatures. Therefore, the hatchery staff have been busy the last few weeks trying to complete the harvest before the cold weather set in. Threadfin shad are not very cold tolerant and begin to die off when water temperatures drop below 42 degrees. Unlike most lakes, the hatchery ponds are not deep enough to provide a thermal refuge for the shad to seek out warmer water to survive the winter.

Threadfin shad are important food sources for sport fish like black bass. The AGFC culture facilities produce these shad in order to help supplement or boost populations in certain lakes that may be lacking enough forage to keep sport fish populations fat and healthy. For instance, Lake Fort Smith has largemouth bass populations experiencing relative weight condition assessments in the mid-80s, Fisheries staffers say. Relative weight is a measure of how plump or fat a fish is. These should be in the 95-100 range, and something lower would indicate a lack of sufficient forage. The AGFC hopes these stockings can improve the health of fish populations such as largemouth bass.* Jim Hinkle Spring River State Fish Hatchery staff in Mammoth Spring stocked several Family and Community Fishing Program locations in northwest Arkansas last week with rainbow trout. The lakes stocked were Lake Atalanta (750), Bentonville Lake (950), Murphy Park Pond (380), Springdale Lake (750) Pleasant View Park Pond (380), Carol Ann Cross Lake (380), Van Buren Lake (380), Wells Lake (750). Don’t forget: The FCFP tagged trout that were stocked in its ponds as part of the Tagged Trout Contest that is underway through February. Catch at trout with a tag and win a prize, plus a chance to win one of the grand prizes (a guided trout trip on the Little Red River).

To see when and where the most recent stockings were in the FCFP ponds, click the red button below.

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