Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Crappie Confusion

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Crappie Confusion

Article excerpt

The magic number is 60. That's the water temperature which, combined with prolonged hours of daylight, triggers changes that induce crappies to spawn.

The fish felt the warmth in March when temperatures throughout much of Pennsylvania shot well above the mark. But biologists believe the photoperiod (the duration of an organism's daily exposure to light) was wrong. Although some anglers caught fish filled with undeveloped eggs, most crappies didn't attempt to spawn. Those that tried failed.

Tim Wilson, a fisheries biologist with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, said the warm winter probably confused crappies, but nature has righted itself and the spawn is back on track to begin, well, now.

"Most people don't realize crappies have two movements to shallow [water]," he said. "You have that very first movement when the water gets into the low 40s -- they're moving in for forage. Everyone thinks, I'm catching them in April, they're here to spawn. No, they're probably there to feed. The second movement, when it hits 60 or a little over, is when they come in to spawn."

A couple of months ago, Wilson said, he was as baffled as the crappies.

"Everyone was thinking -- even me -- that [the spawn] might move up because of the warmer weather. But it looks like everything's going to be just about on time."

As with most species, all crappies don't spawn at the same time. The spawn is spread over several weeks with the larger fish getting on the redds first.

Shooting ranges

The state Game Commission plans an upgrade of the rifle and pistol shooting range at State Game Land 203 in Allegheny County. The popular range will close late May through June during construction of a dedicated pistol range.

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will improve and reopen a public shooting range at Michaux State Forest in Franklin County. …

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