Signs point to a good season for those fishing at Tuttle Creek

By The Mercury

It could be a very good spring and summer season for those interested in fishing at Tuttle Creek.

Ely Sprenkle, fisheries biologist at the Tuttle Creek office of the Department of Wildlife and Tourism, said indications from last fall point to an active season, and possibly a very active one. “When we sampled fish in fall 2012, we found most species to be rated at least good,” Sprenkle said.

He attributed that in part to the fact that the lake’s water levels have been generally stable during spawning season in recent years, so few fish have been flushed out during large water releases.

He predicted that with water rising, fishing on Tuttle should be from good to excellent this spring and summer.

Here’s a breakdown by type of catch.

White crappie. The fall netting had the highest sample number of crappie since 1988. Good spawns the last two years have resulted in lots of crappie less than ten inches and there are very good numbers over 12 inches. “There should be good fishing this spring when the crappie come shallow to spawn,” Sprenkle said. At Tuttle, there is a limit of 50 per angler.

Saugeye. The hybrid of walleye and sauger have been stocked in 2009, 2010 and 2011 and have had excellent survival and growth rates, with the fall 2012 netting having the largest sample in six years. Sprenkle said 84 percent were over the 15-inch length limit and 28 percent were over 20 inches long. “Exceptional fishing is anticipated in the lake and below the dam,” he said. There is a limit of five saugeye per angler, all of which must be 15 inches long.

White bass. Populations have been steadily increasing since 2008 with all sizes offering good numbers. Sprenkle said slightly over half of the nettings were more than 12 inches long and a few were over 18 inches. In the spring, white bass spawn in the creeks that flow into the lake. He said many of these creeks can be accessed from public property making “bank stomping” possible. There is no limit on the number of white bass an angler may possess.

Channel catfish. The population is about average for Tuttle. However, Sprenkle said there are good numbers of large ones. In the fall sampling, 30 percent were over 24 inches and 11 percent were over 28 inches. In addition, the 2012 sampling found Tuttle had one of the largest channel catfish spawns on record. “Hopefully these small fish will grow well and result in improved fishing in the near future,” he said. There is a limit of ten channels, singly or in combination with blue cats, an angler may possess. There is no length limit.

Blue catfish. They have been stocked in Tuttle since 2002 but densities have been quite low. Sprenkle said a stocking in 2011 of 13,000 blue cats from six to 10 inches long has had remarkable survival rates. The 2012 fall sampling collected the most blue catfish ever in the reservoir but most were young fish under 18 inches with only a few older and larger ones. In 2012, 19,000 blue cats were stocked. “It will take nearly a decade to determine whether the population will flourish and naturally reproduce in the lake,” he said, but he termed early indications promising. Creel limit is ten, either singly or in combination with channel cats.

Flathead catfish. They are present in good numbers with some quite large ones. The limit is five.

Largemouth bass. The species has been expanding in the southern third of the lake. The creel limit is five and at Tuttle, a keeper must be 18 inches long.

Sprenkle noted that once an angler has reached any of the daily creel limits listed above, culling isn’t permitted. After the daily creel limit has been reached, any other fish of that species caught must be immediately released, unharmed. It can’t replace another fish already caught.

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