4.3 - Growth Rate

Growth rate (mean length @ Age-2+) should be a good indicator of the availability of forage relative to crappiei abundance. Growth influences the size and age structure of a population and affects sizes of fish available for harvest by anglers. In a desirable population, fish should reach a minimum harvestable size in a reasonable period of time.

A good crappie population should have a growth rate between 201-mm (8”) and 275-mm (11”) at Age-2+. Current data shows Arkansas lakes are capable of growth rates within this range. Crappies above 225mm begin to add weight at a faster rate and are valued more highly by fishermen.

High growth rates (> 275-mm @ Age 2+) are associated with lower than optimal densities and age structure. However, higher growth rates are acceptable when density is high since an adequate forage base must be present to produce good growth. Poor growth (≤200-mm @ Age 2+) may be attributed to other trophic levels other than forage fishes, since crappie less than 150-mm (6”) forage primarily on plankton and aquatic invertebrates.

Growth influences the value assigned to the density rating. Density is rated higher when accompanied by good growth because density is not likely to be the limiting factor. Growth indirectly influences age structure by determining at what age crappie become vulnerable to angler harvest. Faster growing crappie become vulnerable to angling mortality sooner. Growth rate also influences the value of recruitment. Recruitment is rated higher when accompanied by good growth since density is not likely to be a limiting factor.

Information Provided by Arkansas Game and Fish Commission