Author Topic: Where are the fish??  (Read 808 times)

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Offline Geo Tullis

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Where are the fish??
« on: February 22, 2022, 05:54:58 PM »
SOMETHING HAS CHANGED!  What has happened to our fishery? I’m not writing this post to vent.  I’m asking for input from people who’ve fished this river for ten years or more. 

Are we overrun with fisherman?
Is the AGFC not releasing what they claim.  I know damn well they’ve cut back on the amount of fish released by 20%.  An AGFC biologist told me that.
Is it the lack of generation for the last three or so years?
This is not about me catching fish. If I never catch another trout in a little Missouri River, I’ve caught thousands more than my share.

The problem I have is when I bring friends to fish or my kids; it’s not poor timing. I fished Friday morning with my son and I caught ten or twelve and he caught 15.  Which is more than enough. What I’m baffled by is that I went back Saturday with a friend who is in poor health and needed to get out. 
I caught two fish all day and did not see another angler catch a single fish. None!
They were no less than 15 anglers at the old factory site and they were so many people at Hinds Bluff, it’s like they were giving away gold coins down there. I saw no one catch a fish.  No one!  Something’s amiss here.
Not to mention, I went to Albert Pike and fished like a drowning man going for a log and caught one fish at the end of February? Somethings not right here.

Having fish this river REGULARLY for over 40 years, I’d love to understand just what in the chicken fried hell has happened to the fishery.  I’m wondering why in the hell 50 anglers could be on the river and no one catch a fish especially on a week when they have released fish on two days.
This situation is not a fluke, this is been going on for 3 to 4 years. 

Can anyone shed some light on whether we have too many people to support our little South Arkansas Trout Fishery OR is the AGFC shorting us on the releases or is there something at play here I don’t understand? 
As an aside, I see more people on this river than I do the Little Red on any given day.
Again, this is not about me catching fish; this is about our entire fishery going to hell in a handbasket and I want to know if I’m the only one that notices this.  Please be kind and your responses here. 

Offline Jeff Guerin

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Re: Where are the fish??
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2022, 07:18:05 PM »
Hey George, there's any number of explanations for your observations.

Yes, there are fewer fish generally, and seemingly more anglers. And often, it truly is a matter of location, location, location - and being in the right place at the right time! I've often run across the situation where I may have gotten into quite a good number of fish one day and hit the spot the next day or two later and find none.

The fish DO move around quite a bit on high water, for one. So if you get into fish in a certain place one day, they might have all cleared out by the next - particularly if there was high water in between. Granted so far this season, there has not been a lot of generation until lately, and even now it's been minimal and inconsistent!

You may recall, back in the days of the tagging studies, I personally documented fish that were released at Riverside being caught at Low Water and vice versa - WITHIN TWO WEEKS of being stocked!!! That is, freshly stocked fish covered the river in both directions that quickly. Granted there was consistent generation during the time frame, but the fact that they moved that quickly and that far was quite surprising!

Pressure has been significant in recent years and with fewer fish and just as many, if not more anglers, it doesn't take but one group of, say, five meat hunters to take out no less than 75 fish in an afternoon! The AGFC changed the possession limit from two days to three statewide, I believe. And we know how meat hunters can be about "adherence to regulations".  Indeed I've seen one occasion where a dad and two kids caught three limits of fish. The dad took the fish away, leaving the boys to fish, came back and they took out another three daily limits. This was back when it was a two day possession limit.

So, there certainly is a degree of poaching going on!

Fish also react to weather conditions in a strange way. The trout do prefer blue bird days and definitely do not like unstable conditions. This past Sunday was an example of that. We were fishing the Factory Site with very steady action and lots of fish on the feed. It had been a beautiful sunny day to that point, but about 3:30 the cool overcast moved in and the fish shut down! Once they decided it was okay, they got busy again, but it did take them a while...

I've seen that kind of thing on many occasions.

The fish develop fairly defined seasonal patterns as well. So there's that to consider. But that doesn't seem to be the issue you're putting up for consideration here. I think it's much more likely fish moving in and out of a location rapidly, as well as a certain percentage being removed. The variables abound! Last Friday we tore them up in The Trough at Riverside. Two days later, not a fish to be seen in the same spot, which by the way, almost always has fish in good numbers!

It is still somewhat early in the '21-'22 season and we are seeing the greatest numbers of fish being stocked over this January - March period. And with some semi-consistent water releases, we may start to see some more predictable fish patterns.

Don't know if this helps, but it is what insight I can give you from my years of observations! Wait them out and see how the next month goes. Make some notes of when and where you find numbers, what water and weather conditions are like at the time and if that changed or varied from one trip to the next.

Always On The Water