Hot Springs Village lakes ecology and fishery manager Brad Meredith gave an informational presentation at the meeting of the Village Anglers’ Club on April 3. He began his talk with fish habitat. “Right now we’re working on fish habitat,” said Meredith. Many cedar trees from the Nature Conservancy area have been gathered and placed at various lake ramp areas for future placement in the lakes.
Meredith shared some good news when he told everyone he has already seen evidence that young fry and other fish are relating to the recently placed habitat.
Artificial habitat is also a part of the plan (see photo). This Moss Back brand is made of material that allows algae to stick to it, which makes the structure even better for attracting fish. Placing habitat in the lakes will begin after his department has concluded its electro-fish-shocking efforts this spring. From this work, data is collected for evaluation and also shared with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC).
The shocking boat moves along at approximately three miles per hour, at night, as personnel in the boat net the temporarily shocked fish and place them in a live well for measurements, after which they are released. “We shock at night because we can see the fish better,” he explained. All lakes are shocked except Lago.
About crappie, Meredith said there are several good crappie lakes in the area, like Nimrod and Atkins, but Village lakes are different, much clearer. “They don’t like clear water,” said Meredith of crappie preferences. Village lakes also lack concentrations of cover which is another important factor for a lake to produce good numbers of crappie.
Because of this he said there may never be a large crappie population and that their fish shocking work in spring does not lend itself to producing good crappie results, because the best time to shock for crappie is in the fall. Getting results can also be done with nets and Meredith sees his department getting nets in the future. A floating dredge machine is also on the horizon. It’s in the proposed 2019 budget for purchase.
He added that crappie spawns can widely vary from year to year which also impacts crappie fishing success.
Other items of interest from Meredith included good news that hydrilla has not returned to Lake Balboa and that Lake Coronado continues to fill as rainfall occurs. About drawdowns, he said they can be good for predator fish because it can concentrate baitfish and thus make it easier for the bigger fish to feed.
Lake Balboa is slated for drawdown this coming fall. Meredith said he wants the lake taken down eight feet.
What about fish stocking? Meredith said AGFC no longer stocks fish in semi-private lakes, so no more AGFC stocking in Village lakes. His plan for now is to stock forage fish in smaller Village lakes where additional food is needed for bass to accelerate their growth.
“I encourage everyone to keep and eat the smaller fish,” he said. This is because several Village lakes have too many smaller fish in them. Selective harvesting of smaller fish can also accelerate growth.
At the meeting it was also announced that a fish and lakes informational/educational session for the public will be taking place on April 26 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Coronado Center. Fishing clubs, AGFC and several other entities will be on hand to share their expertise.
Meredith also announced something new for Hot Springs Village. A fishing challenge, similar to the one in Hot Springs, will take place this year. Fish will be tagged and, if caught, can result in the angler winning money. The event will be open to Village residents, their guests and eligible POA employees. He added that no POA money will be spent on the event, hence sponsors are being sought. “We’re hoping for a $10,000 total payout,” Meredith said. More details to come in the near future.
The next Anglers’ Club meeting takes place at 7 p.m. on May 1 at Coronado Center. At the meeting a panel will discuss their recent fishing successes.