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Lake Dardanelle crappie worth more than a meal

RUSSELLVILLE – Crappie anglers on Lake Dardanelle may be able to win more than a fish dinner if they notice a special yellow tag behind the dorsal fin of fish they catch in the next few months. Fisheries biologists with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission have been busy netting and tagging several hundred crappie with special reward tags as part of a study on the crappie fishery this year.

According to Nicholas Feltz, AGFC fisheries biologist in Russellville, the project will help biologists learn more about crappie survival in this section of the Arkansas River and how the fishery changes throughout the year.

“The time and locations of tag returns from anglers will help us understand fishing effort, and to a smaller degree, movement throughout the season of tagged fish,” Feltz said. “We will also be able to track catch-and-release rates in crappie with the tags.”

Feltz says each tag is assigned a random cash prize, ranging from $5 to $100, but anglers must call the number on the tag to claim their reward.

“Do whatever you normally would with the fish,” Feltz said. “If it was going to be kept before you saw the tag, keep it. If it was going to be released, just cut the tag off and release the fish. You’ll get the reward, either way.”

The crappie collected for the study have been caught and released from many sections of the lake, so anglers across the lake have an equal chance of netting one of the reward fish.

“Just because a buddy caught a tagged fish in Illinois Bayou doesn’t mean you won’t catch one upriver at Spadra,” Feltz said. “We don’t want anyone to change the way they fish to try and collect tags, but we want anglers to maybe look twice at the fish before tossing him back or putting him in the cooler so they can give us good details of the catch. The results of the study will help all of us anglers who use this fantastic fishery.”

Anyone who catches a tagged fish can report it and receive further instructions by calling Feltz at (479) 264-4611.