Hawk Springs Reservoir is managed for primarily Black Crappie, Channel Catfish, and Walleye. Other game fish present include Largemouth Bass and Yellow Perch. Limited natural reproduction occurs for Walleye and Channel Catfish, therefore about 40,000 (2-3 inch) Walleye and 2,500 (5-6 inch) Channel Catfish are stocked annually. Fishing for Walleye generally picks up after ice-off in March and remains consistent through June. Fishing for crappie really picks up in May and catfish can be caught at consistent rates throughout the year.
In May 2016, 22 boat anglers were interviewed and they reported catching 217 Black Crappie, 46 Largemouth Bass, and 94 Walleye. In general, anglers caught two Black Crappie and one Walleye for every hour fished in May. In June, 29 boat anglers were interviewed. More anglers were targeting Walleye in June (93%) than in May (64%). The number of Black Crappie, Largemouth Bass, and Walleye caught in June was lower than May, but anglers still caught at least one game fish (i.e. crappie, bass, Walleye) for every hour fished in June.
In addition to angler interviews the reservoir is sampled every September with a variety of nets to assess general abundance of game fish species, evaluate length, weight, and overall fish condition. Data collected helps fish biologists adjust stocking rates or regulations if needed. In 2016, the average length of Walleye captured in sampling gear was 16.3 inches with 22% of those captured exceeding 20 inches. The average size of Black Crappie caught in sampling gear was 9.3 inches and 50% of those captured were ≥ 10 inches. Both small and adult Gizzard Shad were captured with sampling gear indicating a healthy forage base for game fish species, which was reflected in the healthy appearance of all game fish. The largest game fish captured was a 27-inch, 7.1 pound Walleye. Plan your trip now as good catch rates for Black Crappie and Walleye are expected this year.