Posted by Kerry Grissett on January 07, 2002 at 00:17:32:
I have hesitated to post anything about this up until now, but I think my theories about the decline in crappie fishing in this area are valid and if I don't say something, then WHO WILL?
Back in the late 1980's and early 1990's at the pumps (Day park, north end of the hwy 31 causeway) we had a fine crappie fishing area from about mid january to the end of march. Also, the area around the hwy31 causeway and under the causeway bridge was was an excellent crappie fishing area.
This good fishing ended for 2 reasons, IMHO, after 2 things happened.
First, the millfoil and grass around the hwy31 causeway died off around 1990-1991. I am not sure why, but I have been told that it was sprayed with chemicals to get rid of it. Although I didn't witness the spraying, it is the only reason that explains the sudden death of the grass.
Second, the gates and pumps at Day park began to be operated with absolutely no consideration for the spawning fish that, for many years, came up into the backwater areas provided by the management area, via the gates at the pumps in Day Park. TVA now controls these pumps and gates, at the bequest of the NWR, but I am not sure how long this control has been delegated to TVA. Last january they opened the gates for gravity feed of water out of the refuge area about january 15. If this continues, I expect the crappie population in this area may get back to a portion of its former strength after about 5-10 years.
Although I have no scientific proof of this, I think crappie are much like salmon in that they "try" to get back to where they were hatched out for there own spawn. If you close off access to that area for several (5-10) years, then you have less crappie coming back into that area due to the fact that fewer are hatching out from that area. A vicious cycle. The "given" excuse (for all of the WNWR) is that the area is controlled "solely" for ducks and geese and land based wildlife and NOT for the fish. I thought a wildlife management area was there for the protection of ALL wildlife? Apparently and sadly, I was and am still wrong. Fish are apparently not in the "pervue" of the WNWR, nor do they appear to care one wit about them as long as they do not interfere with ducks and geese. (sigh)
Again, recently (the last 3 years) on Flint creek Wheeler Wildlife MA, they decided to close off a back water that had been a prime crappie, bass and bream spawning area. They went so far as to put in a gated culvert and a diesel powered pump. I wasn't there when this happened, but they drained, via the diesel pump, the whole area and let fish die in the wake of their "experiement"??? I was given eye witness accounts by 3 people. When the pump was put in place I asked field officers why it was there and was never given a valid answer. The back water is spring and run-off fed. It could NEVER be used to plant crops either for wildlife or otherwise.
The only thing I could come up with for the waste of money by the Wheeler Wildlife refuge was that they were afraid of losing funding if they didn't spend this money on SOMETHING. In any case, the end result is the same. Nothing has been accomplished, tax dollars were spent and damage was done to the environment.
This is my own opinion based on about 13 years of fishing Flint creek and comments from persons who have fished Flint for up to 50 years. It would seem that the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge Management folks would kill every fish in Flint if they had half a thought that it would be good for the ducks and geese. Half a thought is all I can see from them concerning the project on Flint. Do I sound bitter? You bet!
Good luck and good fishin'
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