Arkansas Game and Fish Commission biologists recently completed community electrofishing samples on Lake Dardanelle and Pool 9 of the Arkansas River. Instead of focusing on just one or two species, the goal of these samples is to document the fish community as a whole. This year’s samples revealed over 30 species of fish ranging from native sportfish such as Largemouth Bass, crappie, and catfish, to non-natives such as Common Carp, Silver Carp, and Grass Carp. Here are some highlights from this year’s samples in bullet point form:
- Threadfin Shad reproduction was excellent in 2022. Small threadfin ranging from 1.5 to 2.5 inches were abundant at most sample sites. Threadfin Shad are very important forage for sportfish species such as bass, crappie, and catfish. Unfortunately, Threadfin populations can crash during harsh winters, so let’s hope for a mild winter in 2023.
- Largemouth Bass reproductive success appeared to be fair to good. Most young-of-the-year bass we sampled appeared to be growing fast and were in good condition.
- Flathead Catfish reproductive success appeared to be good. Lots of little Flatheads were sampled in rocky stretches of the main river
- Populations of invasive species such as Silver Carp and Grass Carp appear to be similar to historic levels. We feared that Silver Carp numbers would increase following the historic flood of 2019, but that does not appear to be the case. All Silver Carp and Grass Carp sampled were in Pool 9, and none were found in Lake Dardanelle. One non-native species that has taken advantage of flooding that has recently occurred on the Arkansas River is the Common Carp. Their numbers appear to have increased in both pools sampled. Common Carp love to spawn around flooded vegetation and fare well in turbid water, so this population increase was expected.
In closing, most Arkansas River sportfish populations are currently in recovery mode due to the flooding we’ve experienced over the last several years. However, species diversity still appears to be very good, indicating the river’s fish population should bounce back quickly when conditions become more favorable.