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Old 05-01-2012, 12:14 PM   #1
jimhs
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Crappie Chaser, you seem to be about the most knowledgeable person on this site as far as Crappie fishing in Brownlee is concerned. I have read some posts by you in the past with reference to 5 year fish, and if I read them right, how we have been catching them for the past year or so and that they are now just about all gone and the fishing outlook is pretty bleak for the future. I admit I don't understand that thing about the 5 year fish and was wondering if you could explain that in a little more detail. I would really like to understand this cycle of how the fish grow and gain their size in cycles or whatever is happening here. I'm sure there are some other folks on here that would like to learn more about this too. Thanks very much for your help, I appreciate it very much.

Jim

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Old 05-01-2012, 06:59 PM   #2
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jimhs, in 2005 there was a really successful crappie spawn on Brownlee. That's the year class I have been following from beginning to end. They can live up to 10 years but 7 is the average. This year we should see 13-14" fish. And the boats that are getting out are catching some but I really don't think there are very many left. In the past we've had discussions on this board about whether the huge catches many have seen taken from Brownlee would have an impact on future catches. No one truly knew and many different thoughts were talked about. My thought was to let the fishery tell us by following the 2005 year class from start to finish. I have been on the water 100-150 days for the last 10 years and have a trip log from every trip back to 2002. The 2005 fish gave me the first chance I had to track a complete life cycle. From 2007 to 2009 there seemed to be no end to the crappie. They went out by the 1000's. Dense schools of competing young fish are easy to catch and box after box were taken. 2010 started off with more of the same but by late summer the change was obvious. Schools were hard to find on usually reliable deep summer spots. Fall fishing never turned on like usual. Business dropped off in town and at the parks at the same time as the fishing fell off. 2011 was hard to get a handle on because of water problems. When we could finally get out there in mid May it was hit and miss, really inconsistent. It was increasing worse through the season and the fall was terrible again. The fish just were not there in any numbers. I feel they were harvested to heavy from 2007-2009. I think the fish showed us that if we managed what we took we could extend the years we have good fishing out of a strong year class. We have no control over how the water is managed but I felt we could control how we harvest the resource. Four crappie limit proposals were rejected because OSP didn't want to deal with it. There's only 4 states in the nation that don't have some sort of crappie limit.
There's been so many changes with the way the water is managed that successful spawns are rare anymore. A lot of fish go over the spillway during the drawdowns also.
Get out there this spring and catch some of those slabs. It may not last long but it will be fun while it lasts.
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Old 05-01-2012, 07:02 PM   #3
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CC, thanks for the info
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Old 05-01-2012, 08:13 PM   #4
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well CC I can say they are nice fish this year but very few of them this year you have to work for them.
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Old 05-01-2012, 08:15 PM   #5
snake river
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The real bad news no small crappies !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 05-02-2012, 05:12 AM   #6
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The real bad news no small crappies !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
That's the worst of the situation. The way the water is managed recruitment is a crap shoot. It looks like we are in the bust of the boom and bust cycle for who knows how many years. Can you imagine what this year would be like if we would have managed those fish from 2007-2009? Few crappie fisheries in the nation would have been as good. All those fish taken at 7-9" would be solid, thick 13-14" slabs.
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Old 05-02-2012, 05:59 AM   #7
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CC, you are very valuable to the sport and we appreciate your work here. I can vouch for your observations completely. We caught lots of fish and have seen the reduction, as there was not an infinite amount hatched that year. Do you know or remember what the conditions were that created that great spawning??? I would think the F&G of both states would be interested in trying to influence the Corps and IP, if they could, to try to reproduce it.

By the way, my dad worked on building the dam and I was an early teenager during those years and have fond memories of the warm, and very HOT, summers in the canyon. I saw a temperature of 117 degrees and we lived in the river as kids. I also remember seeing a sturgeon over 7 feet long hung at the commissary by the camp. Spud.
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Old 05-02-2012, 07:31 AM   #8
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My 2005 log shows I started fishing on March 16 and there was never a time the reservoir was drawndown to where the Hewitt ramp was not usable.
I envy your teenage summers. Priceless memories. I would like to hear more.
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Old 05-02-2012, 07:52 AM   #9
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Wow CC that was a fascinating read. I had never given anything like an isolated great spawning year (for any species) any thought. I applaud the effort you put into your sport. It is a shame that things turned out the way that they did.

BTW, what made 2005 such a great spawning year for Brownlee. Was it stable water levels, low predation, perfect forage, etc? Did other lakes have great year classes as well? I have never been over to that part of the state so I really do not have a clue, but I find the topic very interesting and illuminating.
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Old 05-02-2012, 09:40 AM   #10
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Well Crappie Chaser I sure do want to thank you, not only for the information in this post, but your willingness to share that with everyone. We are fortunate to have someone like you around that has spent the time and effort to track these fish and have a really good understanding of what is actually going on.

When I lived in Portland for 30 years I fished Brownlee at least once almost every year. Now that I live here, I fish it more of course, but in the years that I traveled over here from Portland I never saw the Crappie fishing as bad as it is now. It doesn't seem to me that they drew the reservoir down so much back then and especially at the time of year that the fish are spawning.

I know that for quite a few years people in Eastern Oregon have been battling with the Corps of Engineers over this problem. I wish they could come up with something a little more sensible so that we could get back to the fish populations that we used to have here.

Thanks again for the information, we all appreciate it very much.

Jim
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Old 05-02-2012, 09:42 AM   #11
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By the way, my dad worked on building the dam and I was an early teen

hey Idaspud my dad worked on that dam too,he said you could catch those crappie on every cast back then
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Old 05-03-2012, 06:28 AM   #12
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Water levels were much more stable in 2005. I wish I would have kept better records of the snowpack that year but I do remember that there was a real good early bite near Hewitt park. I launched off the ramp on March 16 and we did really well. A few days later there was a change and the fish moved out. I don't think it was due to a drawdown, I think it was heavy runoff coming in with the Powder River. As I remember there never was a time we could not launch from Hewitt. So more stable water levels were a huge part in the awesome spawn of 2005.
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Old 05-03-2012, 08:21 AM   #13
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Thanks for the answer CC. If you are interested here is a site that lists historic snow levels, water table levels, precipitation, etc. You may be able to find the information you want.

http://www.or.nrcs.usda.gov/snow/data/historic.html
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Old 05-03-2012, 07:17 PM   #14
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Jim, I also lived in Orygun for 36 years. 16 in Portland before retiring back to Idaho and out of the bloody rain. Worked in downtown PDX in the First Interstate Tower for that time. Was a great city but is better here in Boise now. We are going to try the fishing at Owyhee this next week and see whether is worth while to buy an Ore. license. Will let you know. Spud.


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Originally Posted by jimhs View Post
Well Crappie Chaser I sure do want to thank you, not only for the information in this post, but your willingness to share that with everyone. We are fortunate to have someone like you around that has spent the time and effort to track these fish and have a really good understanding of what is actually going on.

When I lived in Portland for 30 years I fished Brownlee at least once almost every year. Now that I live here, I fish it more of course, but in the years that I traveled over here from Portland I never saw the Crappie fishing as bad as it is now. It doesn't seem to me that they drew the reservoir down so much back then and especially at the time of year that the fish are spawning.

I know that for quite a few years people in Eastern Oregon have been battling with the Corps of Engineers over this problem. I wish they could come up with something a little more sensible so that we could get back to the fish populations that we used to have here.

Thanks again for the information, we all appreciate it very much.

Jim
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Old 05-03-2012, 07:32 PM   #15
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http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/nwcc/sn...ays=7&state=or
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Old 05-03-2012, 08:07 PM   #16
snake river
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Columbia River Basin
Rashawn Tama
Water supply conditions are
subject to wide variability
across the Columbia Basin.
Based on current snowpack
conditions and precipitation
patterns so far this season,
many watersheds are
likely to see near normal runoff
in the spring and summer.
From the Kootenai, Flathead,
and Clark Fork Basins in Montana,
through the Spokane
and Clearwater in Idaho, and
on to the Central Columbia
and Yakima Basins in Washington,
seasonal water supply
forecasts are near normal.
However, there is an extremely
strong North/South
gradient in the Columbia Basin,
with the northerly latitudes
fairing much better than those
in the southern portions of the
basin. For example, the Okanogan
and Similkameen Rivers
along the US – Canadian
border are forecast to provide
over 110% of average runoff
for the April through July period.
At the opposite end of the
spectrum, many watersheds in
southern and southeastern
Oregon and southwestern
Idaho are forecast to see less
than 50% of average runoff for
the same period. The Malheur
and Owyhee Basins,
along with the Oregon Closed
and Upper Klamath Basins,
are all facing drought-like conditions.
Those areas where reservoirs
do not provide significant
carryover storage from the
previous year will likely face
water availability issues this
coming spring and summer.
Even under the most
optimistic future weather scenarios,
seasonal runoff volumes
in these basins will remain
below normal.
The US Drought Monitor is
indicating that more severe
drought conditions are slowly
working their way north from
the Great Basin and California
into Southern Oregon.

Can some one tell me why they drained so much water out of Brownlee on the snake river . When they are saying we are looking at drought conditions this year on the snake river (50% of normal water levels) Is IT GOING TO SNOW THIS SUMMER!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 05-04-2012, 05:29 AM   #17
Bill Rogue V.
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Wish ODFW showed at least a little interest in this fishery!
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Old 05-04-2012, 02:07 PM   #18
Tuff_cowboy
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What happened to Corp of Engineers following what they stated the first of May:
"The Army Corp of Engineers has requested that Idaho Power increase Brownlee Reservoir storage by approximately one foot per day. If operations go as planned, the reservoir is expected to be at approximately 2045 feet by May 15th. The boat ramp at Hewitt Park is expected to be in the water May 12th."

It hasn't even raised a foot since then. They sure aren't doing what they say they are going to.
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Old 05-04-2012, 10:45 PM   #19
jimhs
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I noticed on Idaho Power's website that at 7:00 P.M. this evening it has raised to 2,036. One foot in the last several days. You have to remember your dealing with the Federal Government here and we all know what that's like.

Sometimes I can't help but wonder if they aren't doing this to try and get people to give up on fishing altogether. It reminds me an awful lot of what the Forest Service and BLM are doing all over the country with their road closures and booting the ranchers off of the public grazing lands etc. It just seems like the Feds are trying to box us in more and more every day.

Jim
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Old 05-05-2012, 07:25 AM   #20
retaliate
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Seems like the odds are stacked against Brownlee warm water fishing, the state of Oregon has never cared about any warm frersh water species, only Salmon, Steelhead, & Trout, aparently the state of Idaho feels the same, Idaho Power only cares about selling power, thats what they do, A C of E's is bound by the Feds to regulate water for Salmon/Steelhead, it does not look good for a Crappie spawn this year, & with no aparent smaller age class to grow, & spawn, it could be years until a abundant population of Crappie is seen again at Brownlee, without Crappie, no doubt Bass, & Catfish populations will decline as well, I too have never seen it this bad in 30 years, altho we haven't gone to Brownlee in 2 years now, we have been following the status from friends, & others that have, including a guy at Owyhee that fished Brownlee for 3 days early week without catching a single Crappie, BTW Owyhee was just ok, we caught double digits every day, but the weather, & water was cold & the Crappie bite was only good after the water warmed each afternoon about 3pm, we caught at least 3 age class's of Crappie at Owyhee, something we haven't seen at Brownlee in many years.
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Old 05-05-2012, 08:04 PM   #21
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Quote:
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By the way, my dad worked on building the dam and I was an early teenager during those years and have fond memories of the warm, and very HOT, summers in the canyon. I saw a temperature of 117 degrees and we lived in the river as kids. I also remember seeing a sturgeon over 7 feet long hung at the commissary by the camp. Spud.
I was teaching school in Halfway in 1955-56 when they started building the dam. I have some fine memories of hunting mountain quail in canyons that might even be exposed now with the low water.
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Old 05-06-2012, 05:04 AM   #22
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The mountain quail seem to be gone. There used to be some in the canyon above my place but not anymore. How about the mule deer back then? I've heard they were thick.
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Old 05-06-2012, 06:29 PM   #23
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I was over on the river yesterday. People are launching their boats at Swede's Landing and also there are a few of them launching at Hewitt Park now. It's still pretty low at Hewitt, but you can launch a boat there now.

Jim
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Old 05-07-2012, 03:50 PM   #24
idaspud
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Wooly, I may have been in one of your classes for at least a few weeks. I was in the 7th grade in 55. Was too crowded so mom pulled me out and back to Boise. I have fished here now for the last 9 years since retiring back to the dry county and the fishing has been great until recently. Last year we did two trips down and our first day of our May trip we caught 12 crappie and then it went down hill from there, and I am talking about 3 boats and 7 catchers, or trying to catch. Even the cat fishing was not that good and the bass was maybe one or two a day..... Spud.



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I was teaching school in Halfway in 1955-56 when they started building the dam. I have some fine memories of hunting mountain quail in canyons that might even be exposed now with the low water.
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Old 05-07-2012, 04:07 PM   #25
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It has been very nice to read all the kudos for Crappie Chaser. We all do owe him a debt of gratidude for his service to the fishery and resource at Brownlee.

Why not express that gratitude by booking a trip with him this spring? You can find him through a Google search.

Chum
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Old 05-07-2012, 06:35 PM   #26
Wooly Curltail
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crappie Chaser View Post
The mountain quail seem to be gone. There used to be some in the canyon above my place but not anymore. How about the mule deer back then? I've heard they were thick.
There were lots of mule deer in the surrounding hills at the time. I was a mule deer novice, but found it easy to nail a nice 4 point. There were also lots of poachers. There were a fair number of chukars in the canyon, but they had recently been introduced and there was no season.

I taught in the high school and coached the football and basketball teams.
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