Crappie fishing was so good on Lake D’Arbonne early in 2014 that fishermen seriously wondered, “are too many people catching too many fish?”
It was a legitimate question — and the same questions are being asked again this year.
Hundreds of fishermen catch hundreds of Lake D’Arbonne crappie day after day after day. Boats are so thick in some areas that it seems as if you could walk from boat to boat.
If it were Toledo Bend, which is 190,000 acres or so, nobody would flinch because it’s such a big lake. Lake D’Arbonne, on the other hand, is only about 16,000 acres.
Is all this fantastic fishing going to be bad for crappie fishing in the future?
If anybody knows the answer to that, it would be Louisiana’s top inland fisheries biologist Mike Wood, who grew up near the lake and now lives in West Monroe.
Wood started his career in Monroe working on projects on Lake D’Arbonne before moving through the ranks to his current job as head of the inland fisheries division of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
And he said his agency is keeping tabs on D’Arbonne’s fishery to ensure no harm is done.
“As a fisheries manager, I have to say that I’m very proud that D’Arbonne anglers are able to enjoy the great fishing we have now,” he said. “I understand that anglers want to protect a resource we all value so highly, so we’ll continue to use the tools we have to monitor D’Arbonne Lake.
“If we see a threat, whether in the form of over harvest, water fluctuation or anything else, we’ll be quick to recommend necessary action.”
Currently, there are no indications of problems, however.
“It’s true that there are lots of crappie in deep water. It’s also true that lots of anglers have enjoyed good success,” Wood said. “But, we shouldn’t ignore the following: One, we have cold weather in North Louisiana every year; two, crappie concentrate in the deep water of D’Arbonne Lake every year; (and) three, D’Arbonne anglers enjoy good fishing in deep water every year.
“And … it’s just as predictable that, every year, some voice concerns of negative impact from excessive harvest. I respectfully disagree, and I partially base that opinion on the fact that hundreds of happy anglers are out there now. Wintertime crappie fishing on D’Arbonne Lake didn’t just start to be very popular.”
He said D’Arbonne crappie are in great shape, but the fishery isn’t great every year. And it won’t be the fishermen’s fault when the crappie population declines.
That’s because recreational fishermen only take a very small percentage of available crappie on a lake this size.
“Crappie populations are cyclic, and there’s no doubt that we’re on a peak,” Wood said. “Enjoy the blessing we have now. The current abundance of crappie started with a great spawn two to three years ago.
“It’s important to know that a good spawn has far more impact to crappie populations than hook-and-line harvest.”
How long will it last? That’s up to Mother Nature.
In the meantime, don’t worry about catching all the crappie on jigs and shiners. We fishermen just aren’t that good.