Arkansas Ozarks Fishing-White River-North Fork-Buffalo River-North Fork-Bull Shoals

ARKANSAS GAME AND FISH COMMISSION

FISHERIES DISTRICT 2 - NORTH CENTRAL ARKANSAS

MAY 1996 NEWSLETTER

DISTRICT FISHERIES BIOLOGIST - MARK OLIVER

ASSISTANT BIOLOGIST - KEN SHIRLEY

PART-TIME TECHNICIAN - SHAWN HODGES

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District 2 welcomes Shawn Hodges as our second Part-Time Technician. He replaces Tim Burnley who luckily found a permanent position as Assistant Biologist in the Brinkley district. Shawn is a Freshman at Arkansas Tech University at Russellville and will be working with us until he returns to school next fall.

Fisheries Management and Special Projects

Spring-time electrofishing was completed with the final two samples on Bull Shoals. The largemouth and spotted bass on both Norfork and Bull Shoals appear abundant and many are above legal size (15" for largemouth and 12" for spotted). We'd like to thank the "A" Team (Steve Eastwold, Kirby Davenport, and Scott Ezell) for their help on the lower end of Bull Shoals. Mike Bivin and his stepdad helped us with the W. Sugarloaf Creek sample.

A total fish kill was conducted on a small private pond. The landowner wanted to remove the fish and start over. Another private pond was inspected to determine a solution to a serious vegetation problem.

Ken completed his tour on the Hulsey (Hot Springs) State fish hatchery spawning striped bass and (yawn) watching the eggs hatch.

Melissa Jones, Spring River State Fish Hatchery manager, checked the 24 tagged walleye the hatchery is holding for us to evaluate tag retention. A total of three (12.5 %) have shed their tags and one (4%) has died. This information will be useful when we begin to calculate exploitation rates.

The biggest activity of the month was assisting the Professional Walleye Trails Super-Pro tournament conducted on Norfork Lake. PWT's top 40 walleye pros and 40 amateurs competed for over $100,000 in prizes and cash. After endless meetings and preparation, it was a relief for the tournament to actually arrive. Along with a crew from the Missouri Department of Conservation, we measured all walleye reaching the tournament weigh-in, checked them for tags, condition, and tagged them. The MDC crew will send us a summary of the exact numbers but we can generalize the results. Over 100 walleye reached us during the 3-day tournament. Walleye appear to be more sensitive to hooking and handling stress than bass. Mortality was probably around 10% while in springtime bass tournaments with well conducted weigh-ins only about 1% are lost. About 10% of the walleye the anglers caught had been previously tagged by us or the MDC. The winning angler caught over 28 pounds of walleye. We think the fishermen had an enjoyable trip but their timing was not the best. Due to the late spring they got here after the spawn but before the walleye set up their summer residence making them hard to locate. This was the first time they had fished a southern lake for their tourney and our crappie, bass and stripers probably impressed them more than the walleye. Watch for the tournament on The Nashville Network's In-Fisherman program in the first week of July. We are very grateful to the members of the Rod and Reel Club and the North Arkansas Fly Fishers who spent many hours of volunteer time helping with the tournament. Maggie Schneider was a very effective recruiter and we appreciate her efforts very much. Henry Hodges and Kenny Treat also pitched in to help. Thanks again to all. And thanks to Al Linder, Jim Kalkofen, and Mark Dorn (In-Fisherman/PWT) who were very cooperative and a pleasure to work with. The Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce (Cari White, Executive Director) and local tourism businesses were also helpful throughout the event. Thanks, Cari!

Fish Stocking

The annual crop of the Norfork Lake Nursery pond was released. We had not previously produced such a huge crop of small walleye, releasing and estimated 246,000 one-inch fingerlings. Walleye were also stocked in Bull Shoals. These fish came from our Centerton and Corning Fish hatcheries since the Bull Shoals Nursery pond is awaiting repairs to a leaky bottom. We thank Fisheries District 10 and Centerton State Fish Hatchery for high quality fry we used to stock the pond.

As always, the Spring, Norfork and White Rivers received huge stockings of rainbow trout.

Construction and Maintenance

Most of this month was spent on major construction and maintenance projects. We built boat ramps at Calamity (Sandy) Beach on Norfork Lake and at Red's Landing on the White River. The ramp at Calamity Beach is the first boat ramp constructed on Norfork Lake by the Arkansas Game and Fish so no matter what the federal budget cutters do there will be at least one place you can launch for free. Both sites have 20 foot wide concrete slabs now usable for free public boat launching. However, much work still remains. The Baxter County roads leading to both sites will be paved later this summer. And, we still need to install the project sign boards at Calamity Beach and bank protection at both so we apologize in advance if construction interferes with your next trip. We express our thanks to Judge Joe Bodenhammer and the Baxter County Road Department for their help in grading and graveling roads and parking areas and during concrete work. Also, Jim Morgan and Mike Walker of our Commission Construction Crew provided us with much needed help and guidance on both these projects. Both areas were constructed with Marine Fuel Tax funds. These funds are generated by allocating a certain percentage of state gasoline tax for use on roads that lead to public boat ramps and for materials used in constructing boat ramps and parking areas. These funds have paved many miles of roads in our area of the state.

We also installed the new project sign frame at Sylamore Access Area (to replace a vandalized one) and poured concrete along an undercut area along the boat ramp. It costs over a $1,000 to replace one of our project signs. We'd much rather use that money to build or do something new.

Mark met with Mr. Keith Roberts of Oakland on Bull Shoals Lake to check on his offer of the use of several of his ponds for fish culture purposes. Although none of the ponds met current needs, we appreciated Mr. Robert's concern for our lake management and his willingness to help out.

During the rapidly rising lake levels, it was necessary for us to adjust several courtesy docks on the lake boat ramps. While this job is normally done by local volunteers, once in a while they are unavailable and it falls to us to keep the docks usable.

A number of trips were made to Crooked Creek to meet with individuals regarding public access to the stream. Several landowners have closed off access across their properties in response to the gravel mining controversy and disrespectful actions of some stream users. PLEASE RESPECT PRIVATE PROPERTY!!! Landowners everywhere are rapidly and understandably losing patience with those who abuse their tolerance of public use of their property. The gravel mining issue will be resolved later this year. We'd like to thank Dr. and Mrs. Kelley, Marion County Sheriff Roger Edmonson, and Charles Blackburn for their help with various aspects of the Crooked Creek access situation.

We also hauled steel tubing and angle iron to Mammoth Spring State Fish Hatchery. It will be used to construct a railing for a wheelchair accessible fishing facility at the adjacent Cold Springs Access Area.

Miscellaneous Activities

Ken collected the wild turkey check sheets from Baxter County wildlife check stations for the Wildlife Management Division. Since some individual stations seemed to be way up while others were down, we will have to wait on the wildlife management folks to tell us whether the season was a good one.

District personnel attended the Employee Appreciation Day at the Mayflower Training Center.

Mark attended a Fisheries Management Section staff meeting in Little Rock.

WE HOPE A LOT OF YOU TOOK ADVANTAGE OF THE FREE FISHING WEEKEND AND HAD A FUN AND PRODUCTIVE FISHING TRIP TO YOUR FAVORITE LAKE OR STREAM! IF YOU DIDN'T GO - MAKE PLANS FOR NEXT YEAR. IT'LL HAPPEN THE SAME WEEKEND. TAKE YOUR KIDS TO ONE OF THE MANY FISHING DERBIES HELD AROUND THE STATE OR TO ONE OF OUR STATE FISH HATCHERIES WHERE PONDS ARE WELL-STOCKED FOR KIDS' FISHING.