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Fishing & Boating

Fishing Report

Sardis Lake - 4/17/2018 3:31:49 PM

Water level 273.57, rising 0.3 ft/day, 18.7 ft over rule curve Tuesday. The water level is supposed to rise from 241 ft March 1 to summer pool (260 ft) by May 1. Expect rapid water level rises and drawdowns as rain events happen and the Corps tries to achieve and maintain rule curve. For water level information, call (662)563-4531 or check at http://mvk-wc.usace.army.mil/docs/bullet.txt for a table or http://mvk-wc.usace.army.mil/plots/sardplot.png for a graph or http://www.mvk-wc.usace.army.mil/resrep.htm for both. Be sure to check the date on the table as it is not always updated daily.

The weekend's rain and cold front raised and cooled the water. Again. Warmer weather is predicted later this week, but it will be windy and the water level will likely start falling. Again. The recent rise and cold weather slowed down the fishing. Fluctuating temperatures and water levels have fish moving in and out of the shallows; best scenario would be stable or slowly rising water and warming temperatures. Most folks have been crappie fishing from Toby Tubby Creek uplake (Hurricane, Hwy 7, etc.), but Clear Creek and other coves should also be holding fish. Expect a lot of short fish from a big 2015 year class; they will be legal later this year. The White Bass bite in the river near the Hwy 7 bridge has slowed. Fish jigs or small crankbaits. So many folks were fishing from the Hwy 7 ramp the COE put up "No fishing from ramp" signs because of conflicts with boaters. There are no size on number limits on White Bass. No reports on anything else, although Largemouth Bass should be in the shallows feeding up before the spawn; spinnerbaits or buzzbaits should draw strikes and cover a lot of water.

A review of MDWFP Sardis spring electrofishing data showed crappie shallow and spawning (females running eggs) April 22 - May 1, 2015, after a cold winter and cool April. Very few people were fishing shallow because they thought the spawn was already over.

Crappie fishing tip: Crappie sense water level changes and react accordingly. When the water is rising, they will spawn 1 - 3 ft deep; when it is falling (or very clear), they will spawn 3 - 6 ft deep or more. Eggs hatch in 2 - 3 days. Newly hatched fry have a yolk sac, but no mouth. They lie in the nest (guarded by the male) until their yolk sac is absorbed and mouth parts form in another 2 - 3 days. Then they swim up and start feeding. Development is faster when the water is warmer; laying eggs to swim-up usually takes less than a week. Not all fish spawn at the same time. Spawning may last 4 - 6 weeks, or more, ensuring some fish are produced each spring.

The spillway had two gates open 4.0 ft each (2300 cfs) Tuesday AM. The Corps is trying to get the reservoir back down to rule curve, so expect them to open the gates some more if we do not get too much rain. Some White Bass have been caught in the spillway and folks trolling in the Lower Lake have been landing some smaller crappie; no reports of bait or depth on either. Check out the new COE fishing pier on the north side of the spillway near the end of the rip-rap.

All fish captured and kept with dip or landing nets, cast nets, boat mounted scoops, wire baskets, minnow seines, and minnow traps in the spillway areas bordered by rip rap must be immediately placed on ice or in a dry container. Game fish caught with these gears must be released. This regulation was enacted to reduce the potential of transferring harmful Asian carps to the reservoir or other waters.

MDWFP fall 2017 electrofishing found good spawns of most fishes due to abundant flooded vegetation. Most Gizzard Shad were about 3 inches, while most Threadfin Shad were about 2 inches. Many of the 2017 spawned shad appeared to be Threadfin X Gizzard hybrids, possibly because of low water and limited spawning habitat. Largemouth Bass were 3 – 21 inches with peaks at 8 and 13 inches, with a good proportion over 15 inches. Blue Catfish ("white river cats or "white humpbacks") were the most abundant catfish; they peaked near 21 inches (about 4 lb), but ranged from 5 – 35 inches. With the unseasonably warm fall, crappie were holding deeper than electrofishing could effectively sample. Most crappie were from the 2017 - 2014 year classes (3 - 14 inches). White Crappie peaked at 10 inches (2016 fish).

The daily creel limit for crappie is 15 per person. Crappie must be over 12 inches. Anglers may use no more than 4 poles per person and no more than 2 hooks or lures per pole. There is a 40 crappie per boat limit for boats with 3 or more anglers. The 12-inch length limit does not apply to the reservoir spillway, but the spillway, including Sardis Lower Lake, has a 15 crappie creel limit.

Limits on Black Bass (Largemouth and Spotted Bass) are statewide limits: no size limit, 10 fish per person daily.

Contact the COE office (662) 563-4531 for accessible ramps at current water levels.

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