Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) fisheries biologists have worked for decades to maintain and improve the crappie fishery at Wappapello Lake.
Biologists say that goal comes with many challenges, but they’re up to the task.
“Crappie fishing has a long history at Wappapello and we’ve seen ups and downs,” said Dave Knuth, a MDC fisheries management biologist.
One challenge to managing the crappie population at Wappapello is the highly variable water levels from year to year caused by flooding. The lake was constructed in the 1940’s to hold water with a goal of decreasing downstream flooding during large rain events.
While the function of the lake is a positive thing for flood control, fluctuating water levels are not always beneficial for managing consistent crappie populations. If water levels drop suddenly during the period when fish spawn, successful reproduction could be greatly reduced.
Fluctuating water levels can impact all fish in the lake, including gizzard shad, a smaller fish that crappie and other fish eat.