LAKE OUACHITA FISHERIES MANAGEMENT PLAN
Lake Ouachita Fisheries Management Plan
Up Date Meeting
Prepared by Fisheries Division
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
In Consultation with Lake Ouachita Citizen Advisory Group
OCTOBER 17, 2006
Based on Public Input from Facilitated Workshops,
The AGFC Website, Mail-In
Questionnaires, and Fisheries Science.
Provide quality fishing opportunities for all sport fish species in Lake Ouachita through
habitat improvement, fishery enhancement, and increased angler involvement and
Conduct fishery management through an open public process that
adapts to changing conditions
and seizes new opportunities as they occur.
Lake Ouachita is a 40,000-acre Corps of Engineers (COE), hydropower, flood control
reservoir located near Hot Springs in western Arkansas. The reservoir has sport fisheries
(black bass, crappie,
striped bass, walleye, catfish, and bream) are managed by the
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) under the authority of
Amendment 35 to
the Arkansas Constitution.
The AGFC desired to better understand and address the overall desires of the Lake
Ouachita's fishing public.
The AGFC contracted an independent facilitator to assist with
an all-inclusive fisheries management plan for Lake Ouachita.
Solutions Group (DSG), an independent consulting firm, was retained to facilitate the
Mr. Spencer Amend, was the primary facilitator for the plan
Purpose of the Plan
The plan was developed to address, as extensively as possible, the desires and
expectations of the fishing public of Lake Ouachita as regards the overall management
of the lake's sport fisheries.
The deliverable elements of the plan are based on
scientific fisheries management principles and are intended to maintain and enhance
the wide variety of fishing options available on Lake Ouachita.
Development of the Plan
Fisheries Division AGFC identified a group of Lake Ouachita “stakeholders" in regards
to their interest and availability to serve on an oversight committee.
A Lake Ouachita
Citizens Advisory Group (LOCAG) was formed during July 2006 to help the Commission
with formulation of the management plan.
A charter (see LOCAG Charter in appendix)
was proposed by DSG and adopted by the LOCAG to direct their work. Guiding
principles in the Charter for LOCAG members were:
Represent and provide perspectives of all anglers who fish Lake Ouachita
and others who have an interest in Lake Ouachita fisheries resources.
Assist in the completion of the Lake Ouachita Fisheries Management
Advise and assist with the implementation of the Lake Ouachita Fisheries
Help evaluate the success of the Lake Ouachita Fisheries Management
Provide information and perspectives to help with needed modifications to the Lake Ouachita Fisheries Management Plan.
The LOCAG is expected to serve as an ongoing oversight committee for several years.
Periodic review of the plan following initial formulation and implementation will be
needed. Membership may change over time.
Initially, the LOCAG consisted of about 35
members. (See dated list of LOCAG members in appendix).
This document establishes management goals and objectives for Lake Ouachita with
consideration of public input.
Public comments were collected during two August 2006
facilitated public workshops held in Mount Ida and Fountain Lake.
These meetings were
advertised to the public and their participation was encouraged.
updated its website to include information regarding the LOCAG meeting in August as
well as reports detailing the input from both public meetings.
Additionally, the public had
a website link to submit their advice and comments.
Preliminary outlines of
management plan strategies were circulated among the LOCAG for advice.
Fisheries management personnel then incorporated that advice
into this draft management plan document.
For organizational purposes, the plan is divided into the three (3)
major categories that
relate to the major components of any fishery:
People Goals, Objectives, and Strategies
Achieve Lake Ouachita fisheries management goals and objectives in an
open and transparent process involving all anglers, the Corps of Engineers,
U.S. Forest Service, Entergy, and fishing related businesses.
A. Interact annually or more often as needed with the Lake Ouachita CAG
B. Maintain an interactive informational website
C. Determine angler satisfaction and preferences through an angler creel survey
D. Maintain open lines of communication/cooperation between other state and
E. Encourage anglers to participate in fish management activities such a fish
stockings, habitat improvement projects, and fish sampling.
F. Facilitate and assist with competitive fishing events.
Seek open communication, understanding, acceptance, and appreciation between varied angling groups.
A. Host an annual CAG meeting to review Lake Ouachita Management Plan
implementation and listen to angler perspectives and views.
B. Post Annual Lake Ouachita Fish Population Sampling Report on AGFC website.
C. Post Arkansas Tournament Information Program for Lake Ouachita on AGFC website.
D. Post District 8 and Black Bass Program newsletters on AGFC website.
E. Maintain postal mailing list for those without internet access.
F. Provide presentations to sport fishing groups and civic organizations on the
fishery management of Lake Ouachita.
G. Work with AGFC Communications Division to develop informational outreach on
H. Actively solicit feedback from the public on the condition of the fishery.
Black Bass, Best Fish Handling Practices, Aquatic Vegetation
Control, and other topics of interest to improve angler understanding of the
ecological and social parameters effecting Lake Ouachita fisheries.
Increase and focus Enforcement efforts to reduce the impact of fishing
violations on the sportfish in Lake Ouachita.
A. Focus Enforcement effort during critical periods.
Devote the equivalent of one Wildlife Officer during period of highest fishing activity (March 15 thru May 15) to Lake Ouachita only.
Spend a collective 40 hours per week during this time period that a Wildlife Officer is on the water or at the ramps or marinas making angler
- Visit fish cleaning stations at Crystal Springs, Tompkins Bend, Brady Mountain, etc., regularly.
- Increase fishing license checks.
- Increase checks for compliance with length limits.
- Increase checks for compliance with possession limits.
C. Maintain or increase Enforcement emphasis on fishing in Lake Ouachita during
the rest of the year.
Fish Goals, Objectives, and Strategies
Achieve a balanced, quality, diverse sport fishery using science-based fisheries
I. Largemouth bass fishery goal:
Achieve a quality largemouth bass fishery
attractive to anglers.
Management will seek to balancing high bass density
with rapid growth rates commensurate with forage and habitat conditions.
A. Increase the average-size and growth rate of native (Northern) largemouth bass.
Specific metrics to achieve:
Achieve a relative stock density to 30%.
Achieve a proportional stock density to 60%.
Achieve a growth rate of 16 inches at Age 4+.
1. Maintain current 13-inch minimum length limit.
2. Maintain current 6 bass per day creel limit.
3. Discourage bass tournaments that utilize a weigh-in when water
temperature exceeds 85Ã‚Â°F.
4. Increase enforcement presence for compliance.
5. Evaluate achievement through annual electrofishing and cove-rotenone
6. Evaluate achievement through the Arkansas Tournament Information
7. Evaluate achievement through dialogue and discussions with anglers.
B. Improve the catch success of largemouth bass anglers.
1. Achieve 0.2 bass/hour catch-rate for largemouth bass over 13-inches.
2. Achieve a catch-rate of 600 hrs per largemouth bass over 5 lbs.
(measured by ATIP, the hours required to catch a largemouth bass over 5
lbs. is 669)
3. Evaluate through a 3-year creel survey.
4. Achieve average weight of 1.85 lbs. per largemouth bass caught in
tournaments (ATIP target).
C. Maintain adequate recruitment rates of young largemouth bass to sustain a
viable, quality bass fishery.
1. Stock largemouth bass through the Lake Ouachita nursery pond as part
of the three year rotation. Culture method will be at the discretion of
District Fisheries Biologist:
(1) Hatchery system will provide northern
largemouth fingerlings (40,000) in late May or early June. Fingerlings will
be raised to average of 5 to 6-inch fish before summer release. Or (2)
natural broodstock will be secured either through electrofishing or
tournament weigh-ins and stocked directly into nursery pond. Wild
spawning can be expected to produce an estimated 250,000 fingerlings
(1- to 2-inches in size).
2. Stock additional largemouth bass fingerlings when cove rotenone results
indicate lower than average spawn success (50% of historic average).
3. Work with the USCOE to maintain stable water level during spring
4. Determine relationship between spawning success and the density of Age
1 largemouth bass the following spring.
5. Determine the efficacy of stocking largemouth bass to supplement natural
D. Determine the suitability and efficacy of using Florida-strain largemouth bass in
Lake Ouachita to improve bass growth performance and the catch rate of bass
over 5 lbs by anglers.
1. Introduce Florida largemouth bass (FLMB) into the 937-acre Crystal
Springs arm of the lake. Stock at target rate of 100 fingerlings per acre
(93,700 minimum). This rate will result in stocking approximately 750,000
FLMB fingerlings over eight years.
2. Determine the comparative growth difference between largemouth bass
within the Crystal Springs arm with known native strain largemouth bass
from other areas of Lake Ouachita.
3. Determine the rate of Florida allele introgression into the native genome
component of the Crystal Springs arm of Lake Ouachita.
II. Spotted bass fishery goal:
Achieve an abundant spotted bass fishery
commensurate with the lakeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s habitat conditions.
1. Protect with 13-inch minimum length limit effective January 1, 2007
III. Smallmouth bass fishery goal: Establish a self-sustaining population of a strain of smallmouth bass designed to produce a trophy fishery.
1. Stock 100,000 fingerling smallmouth bass annually until 2010 in
designated stocking zone between Blakely Dam and Point #1.
2. Maintain catch and release regulation for smallmouth bass.
3. Evaluate through electrofishing, cove-rotenone, and creel census.
Achieve a viable and balanced striped bass
fishery. Management will seek robust growth rates focused on providing
large fish of a density attractive to anglers.
1. Achieve growth-rate of 26 inches by Age 4.
2. Achieve Relative Weight Index, Wr (a fish condition factor) of 95%.
3. Maintain angler catch-rate of .03 fish/hour and average size of 10.5 lb. as
determined by angler creel survey.
1. Stock striped bass as follows:
Stock annually at 3 to 4 fingerlings per acre (120,000 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 160,000) when Wr
is at 95% plus length-at-age achieves minimum of 24 inches at Age 4.
Stock at 2 per acre (80,000 fish) when length at Age 4 is below 24 inches
and Wr is between 92% and 95%.
If Wr drops below 92%, stocking rate will be 1 fingerling per acre until Wr
Following rare striped bass production failure resulting in no striped bass
being stocked, the stocking rate will be 5 fingerlings per acre (200,000) in
the next year.
In the event of a severe winterkill of threadfin shad, striped bass stocking
rates will be reduced to 1 per acre (40,000) until the threadfin shad
Establish daily limit of 4 striped bass for Lake Ouachita.
Determine mortality rates of stocked striped bass fingerlings to Age 3 to
help estimate populations.
Implement an angler diary program with striped bass guides
to collect fishery information.
Evaluate population through annual gill netting surveys during spring
striped bass spawning projects. AGFC gillnet collection will target catch
per net night of 2.75 fish minimum.
Evaluate success and harvest rates through a creel survey.
Crappie fishery goal:
Support an abundant number of crappies available for
angler harvest. Management will treat both species as one stock.
1. Explore feasibility of a 9-inch minimum length limit for crappie.
2. Stocking via nursery pond crop rotation. Stock 15 broodstock per acre or
300 adults for pond spawning.
3. Evaluate through spring electrofishing, cove-rotenone samples, and creel
Walleye fishery goal:
Provide a viable walleye population available for angler
1. Stock via nursery pond crop rotation. Stock fry into pond and raise to
fingerling size before release. Estimated release at 150,000 to 300,000
2. Surplus hatchery production will be stocked as fingerlings in years when
walleye are not in nursery pond.
3. Evaluate through cove-rotenone samples, and creel census.
Catfish fishery goal:
Provide a viable catfish population available for angler
1. Annually stock 20,000 catchable-size (12 to 14 inches) channel catfish
from Jim Collins Net Pen Facility on Lake Ouachita.
2. Annually stock 60,000 yearling (8-inch) channel catfish from hatchery
3. Stock 5,000 yearling-size blue catfish in 2008.
Forage fish goals:
Maintain self-supporting population of threadfin shad.
1. Supplementally stock threadfin shad when a significant winterkill of that
species is detected.
2. Stock threadfin shad when cove rotenone poundage estimate is less than
50% of historical standing crop average (about 8 pounds per acre).
3. Maintain the current mix of forage species (including sunfishes, minnows,
gizzard shad, etc.). No new forage species introductions.
4. Evaluate through annual cove-rotenone samples.
5. Explore the efficacy of using hydro-acoustics to improve threadfin shad
Objectives, and Strategies
Achieve the types, quality and quantity of aquatic habitat in Lake Ouachita that
will support a healthy, balanced and robust sport fishery.
I. Manage current mix of submerged aquatic vegetation to achieve no less than
15%, and no more than 20%, of the lake's surface area.
A. Reduce the proportion of Hydrilla sp. and Eurasian water-milfoil in favor of more
desirable native species.
B. Stock 10,000 yearling grass carp into targeted areas in cooperation with the
COE in 2007. Future grass carp stockings will be based on Hydrilla sp.
coverage with cover data provided by COE
C. Endorse COE use of approved aquatic herbicides in selected areas such as
swim beaches, boat launches, and marinas.
D. Endorse COE insect bio-control programs.
E. Support COE native plant restoration projects.