Research Helps Determine Harvest Limit for Black Crappie in Lake Griffin
Black crappie (
Pomoxis nigromaculatus) is one of the most sought-after freshwater sport fish in the U.S. Unlike black basses, which are typically caught and released, anglers harvest black crappie in large numbers with a greater focus on the dinner table. Lake Griffin, located in central Florida’s Harris Chain of Lakes, has long been a popular spot for crappie fishing. For years anglers could fill their bag limits with quality crappie, 10 inches or bigger; however, the crappie fishery in the lake has declined in the past 40 years. During its peak in 1975, angler surveys reported 370,000 harvested crappie, but that number dropped below 50,000 by 2005. In 2008 and 2009, researchers from the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) conducted a study to determine how management actions might improve the fishery.
Researchers conducted angler surveys in 2009 during peak crappie season to estimate the number of hours anglers spent fishing for crappie, how many crappie they caught per hour and how many fish were harvested and removed from the lake. To estimate the percentage of the crappie population removed from the lake, researchers conducted a reward-based tagging study. At the end of 2008, FWRI freshwater fisheries biologists collected crappie for tagging using haul seine nets and electrofishing. They tagged 446 crappie, with tag rewards ranging from $5 to $200, and then distributed tagged fish evenly throughout the lake. Biologists also collected carcasses from various fish camps to determine the sizes and ages of harvested crappie. Biologists used this information and data from standard trawl sampling to estimate the percentage of crappie removed by anglers and the percentage dying from natural causes.
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