JOPLIN, Ark. (Arkansas Game & Fish Commission) — The William H. Donham State Fish Hatchery in Corning recently supplied 250 adult black crappie for fish production in Lake Ouachita’s nursery pond in the south fork of the lake.

Lake Ouachita's Nursery Pond in the south fork of the lake

For the duration of the Lake Ouachita Fishery Management Plan (2019), every other year, the 18-acre nursery pond has been used to grow fingerling Florida largemouth bass to “advanced” size in an effort to bolster genetics in the popular Hot Springs fishery. On years when the Florida largemouths are not stocked through the nursery pond, the facility is used to raise forage (shad and minnows) and this year’s crop of crappie fingerlings.

Although the results of supplemental crappie stockings to healthy fish populations can be mixed, this stocking was a part of the Lake Ouachita Fishery Management Plan commitment. Each year, the Lake Ouachita nursery pond fills with rainfall runoff and provides an area free of predation from other fish. The fish are then released into south fork area of the lake.

According to Brett Hobbs, AGFC fisheries supervisor in Hot Springs, the fingerlings these crappie produce will be allowed to grow until they average about a 1.5-inches long. The adult fish then will be released right along with the fingerlings. These fingerling crappie will take a few years to grow to the harvestable size sought by Lake Ouachita anglers.

Visit the Lake Ouachita Management Plan at https://www.agfc.com/en/fishing/fisheries-scientific-reports for more information on work done to improve fishing and fish habitat at Lake Ouachita.