Why Go to Wappapello?
said that during the years he’s fished Lake Wappapello, about half of the lake’s original stumps have disappeared as water washed sand and dirt away from their roots. He and others are working hard to replace this valuable cover.
“For the fish, a lack of cover is like living in a room with not enough furniture,” said Mark Boone, the Conservation Department biologist who manages the fishery at Lake Wappapello. “Stumps, brush piles and that sort of thing are like furniture for fish.”
He described how little fish hide in the furniture to avoid predators, and big fish surge from behind the furniture to surprise and capture passing prey.
To create more fish furniture, the Conservation Department and the Corps of Engineers, along with members of local fishing clubs, began putting brush in the lake about five years ago.
“The first few years, we put in large, hardwood brush piles all around the lake,” Boone said. “We didn’t mark any of them, but then, in 2004, we started creating larger brush piles that consisted, on the average, of three loads of large hardwood trees. They’re all marked with yellow signs that say ‘Fish Attractor.’”
Boone said they used one of the Department’s habitat barges to create 22 marked brush piles in 2004 and 16 of them in 2005.
“We are trying to eventually have 80 marked large brush piles around the lake,” Boone said. “Once we get them all in, we will go back to the original ones and add more trees to them.”
Boone said they place the brush piles from shallow water to deep water so that they will attract fish in all water and weather conditions.
“Anglers can fish up and down until they find fish,” Boone said. “They don’t need fancy boats with all kinds of electronics. All they have to do is find a sign, and they’ll find the brush.”
Anglers are also creating fish habitat on their own. McKuin said the Lake Wappapello Corps of Engineers supports angler efforts to create more fish habitat. Their only requirement is that anglers place the structure where recreational boaters won’t be affected.
James Gracey, natural resources team leader at the Lake Wappapello Corps of Engineer’s office, said, “We do everything in cooperation with the Department of Conservation to make the fishing better.”
The Corps efforts include angler creel surveys, helping with habitat restoration, building a new drive-up fish-cleaning station near their headquarters and adjusting springtime flows to