When spring is on the horizon, anglers look forward to spawning time more than any fishing season of the year.
As the water slowly warms, walleye, white bass, crappie and other favorites start moving up tributaries or into shallow water. Fish can be easier to catch when the spawn is on.
That fast fishing action is just getting started at Beaver Lake. Walleye are the first species to spawn, and they’ve already started. Anglers report walleye are migrating up the White River arm of the lake.
Mike McBride of Winslow, an avid walleye chaser, said small male walleye, plus a few keepers, are starting to show up in the White River between the Arkansas 45 access and Lake Sequoyah dam. Walleye must be 18 inches or longer to keep at Beaver Lake and its tributaries, including the White River below Beaver Dam. The daily limit is four.
Different species spawn at different times depending mostly on water temperature. A chart on the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission website, agfc.com, shows the spawning temperatures of various game fish.
Walleye start spawning at 45 to 50 degrees. While fishing on the lake last week, we found the surface water temperature to be 45 to 46 degrees. That’ll kick the walleye spawn into gear. March is a prime month for catching walleye.
White bass are in the starting gate, ready to start their spring migration up the White and War Eagle tributaries. A temperature of 45 to 48 degrees triggers their spawn. Small male white bass swim up the tributaries first, followed by the larger female fish that get anglers excited. April is usually the hot month for white bass fishing.
Could be that more anglers look forward to the crappie spawn than for any other kind of fish. Both white crappie and black crappie swim in Beaver Lake. Game and Fish tells us a temperature of 60 to 65 degrees gets white crappie spawning. Black crappie get started when the water reaches 62 to 68 degrees. April and early May usually offer good crappie fishing.
Spawning time for smallmouth bass and spotted bass isn’t too far distant. Smallmouth spawn when the water gets around 59 to 60 degrees. Spotted bass, also called Kentucky bass, start spawning at 63 to 68 degrees. Largmouth are the last of the three black bass species to spawn at 68 to 72 degrees. May is a fine time to catch largemouth, smallmouth or spotted bass.
Channel catfish and bluegill spawn in the warmest water. Bluegill start doing their thing in 70 to 75 degree water. The spawn for channel catfish is on when the water hits 75 to 80 degrees.
Fishing during the spawn generally produces more numbers of fish than size, but the Arkansas state records for some game fish are whopper weights indeed. Take the walleye state record of 22 pounds, 11 ounces. That walleye was caught at Greers Ferry Lake in 1982.
The largemouth bass record of 16 pounds, 8 ounces has stood for nearly 50 years. That lunker was caught at Mallard Lake in northeast Arkansas in 1976. The record striped bass came from our neck of the woods. That 64-pound, 8 ounce striper was caught at the White River below Beaver Dam in 2000.
Our two state record crappie are hubcap-sized trophies. Black crappie record is 5 pounds even caught in 2011 at Lake Wilhelmina. The record white crappie, 4 pounds, 7 ounces, was landed at Mingo Creek, a tributary of the Little Red River, in 1993.
Now is prime time to spool some fresh line on those reels and make sure you’re stocked up on the right lures because, ladies and gentlemen, the spawn is on.
Flip Putthoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org