Approximately 1,000 harvestable rainbow trout – 11 to 12 inches – were stocked in Lake Brittany by Crystal Lake Trout Hatchery. Additionally, some fingerling trout – averaging 6 to 7 inches – were delivered. The next load is expected to arrive in late November or early December.
Tuesday’s stocking was the first of the year, due to concerns with the Property Owners Association’s budget. POA Lakes Ecologist and Fisheries Manager Darrell Bowman requested money in the 2014 budget to continue Lake Brittany’s winter fishery program, which began in 2007. The association’s Board of Directors has not yet approved the budget, which would allow Bowman to purchase 1,000 trout per month from January through April.
Additionally, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) will stock other fish species in Bella Vista Village’s lakes, at Bowman’s request, if surplus fish are available in the state fish hatchery system after all state public water stocking requests have been fulfilled. The commission does not charge the association for the fish, since property owners are required to buy a state fishing license to fish in Bella Vista Village.
This year, Bowman requested blue catfish, instead of channel catfish, for the four largest lakes. Blue catfish are large open-water predators that help control the gizzard shad populations. The commission was able to fill this request and the fish were stocked earlier this month. The blue catfish averaged 6.5 inches and were delivered to the following lakes:
Lakes Brittany and Rayburn do not have gizzard shad populations; therefore, blue catfish were not needed. Both lakes, however, have received channel catfish every year since 2007.
Bowman also requests black crappie from the commission every year and usually receives them, since the hatcheries tend to over-produce the species. This year, however, the commission may run short. If there is a surplus, Bowman will place them in Lakes Ann, Avalon, Lomond and Windsor.
Once again, Bella Vista Fly Tyers has offered to cost-share with the association to stock crappie. The club offered $5,000, which Bowman matched with $5,000 saved from the lake nutrients budget. This year’s heavy rains supplied the lakes with ample nutrients from the watersheds; therefore, the association did not have to apply a lot of extra nutrients. With the money, the association will stock the three small lakes – Brittany, Norwood and Rayburn – with black crappie at a rate of 168 fish per acre per lake. The fish, which will be stocked next week by Malone’s Fish Farm, are larger than the crappie provided by the commission.
The high-density stocking of larger crappie will accomplish two things, Bowman said. First, it should make for good crappie fishing from 2016 through 2018, since crappie grow at an average rate of 3 inches per year and survive, on average, four to five years. Secondly, the association will be able to monitor the growth and survival of the crappie in each of these three lakes during the next five years and learn a great deal about crappie management in Bella Vista Village. The association already has a great deal of water habitat and forage base information from these three lakes due to a three-year study with Dr. Thad Scott’s lab at the University of Arkansas, Bowman said.
“We very much appreciate the monetary and volunteer contributions from the Bella Vista Fly Tyers this year, as with years past. They are a great group to work with and they help out in many, many ways on the management and maintenance of our lakes,” he said.
About Bella Vista Village
The range of activities and amenities available at this 36,000-acre recreational and retirement community in Northwest Arkansas includes boating and fishing on seven private lakes, eight golf courses, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis, fitness, and a shooting range. Home sites from $500 to $50,000; Homes, Condos, Townhomes and Villas from $35,000 to $1 million+.