Evaluation of a Crappie Length Limit on Lake Chicot, Arkansas

Population characteristics for black Pomoxis nigromaculatus and white crappies P. annularis combined were simulated using a dynamic pool model to determine if the current 254-mm length limit is practical at Lake Chicot, Arkansas. Catch curve regressions were used to estimate annual mortalities, and exploitation was estimated with two consecutive tag reward studies. Exploitation was adjusted for tag loss, tagging mortality, and non-reporting. Average annual mortality was 78% and adjusted exploitation was 17%. The model predicted no significant changes in PSD, RSD-P, RSD-M, or population abundance as a result of removing the length limit. However, the model predicted a significant increase (P < 0.05) in the number of crappies harvested and yield if the length limit is removed. The length limit probably has not affected most population characteristics because of low exploitation and high recruitment variability. According to the simulations, removal of the length limit at Lake Chicot would increase angler opportunity to harvest crappies, while maintaining essentially the same size structure and population abundance. A creel survey of crappie anglers would be beneficial to identify angler preferences and measure the level of support for the current length regulations.

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