9/14/18 Prospect Report: Harrison County Reservoir

Associated Area

Driving Directions

Travel 9 miles north of the city of Bethany on County Road W.  Turn west on W 222nd St (gravel) for about 0.5 mile to the main lake entrance. 

Harrison County Reservoir (280 acres) has provided anglers with good success for largemouth bass, crappie, and channel catfish.  The fish population continues to adjust to the recent introduction of gizzard shad (source unknown).  Electrofishing surveys in recent years have shown a general trend towards fewer but larger largemouth bass with a larger percentage of bass over 18 inches.  Data collected on the crappie population suggests white crappie are becoming more abundant and smaller (most less than 8 inches), with a only a small percentage greater than 10 inches.  Black crappie appear to be less abundant than in past years, most 7-10 inches, with a few up to 14 inches.  Channel catfish continue to show good growth and offer larger sizes with many fish over 24 inches.  Catchable-sized channel catfish are stocked every other year at a rate of 10 fish per acre.

The finding of gizzard shad in the lake during 2016 suggests that the fishery will be different than in the past.  Gizzard shad populations typically fluctuate greatly from year-to-year, depending weather patterns, which can result in positive or negative impacts to the fishery.  Some years there may be high numbers of juvenile shad produced throughout the summer and this provides abundant forage for species like crappie and bass.  Other years, shad spawning conditions may be short-lived or poor and small forage is then limited.  Gizzard shad also consume large amounts of plankton which are important food sources for juvenile sport species and adult panfish, especially bluegill. The result can be slower growth rates for young or small sportfish.  So, be prepared for changes in the fish population and this may mean occasional adjustments in angling strategies from past trips to the lake.  Fishing during the spring spawning periods should remain similar to past years, but post-spawn angling may need some new approaches at times.  Some species may adjust their feeding activities with changes in the shad population and respond to lures that imitate shad.  Other fish will continue to use the various brush piles recently submerged around the lake, shallow vegetation, and bite on jigs, prepared and natural baits.  Keep trying different approaches until you find what works!

Water conditions in Harrison County Lake vary from very turbid (muddy) during exceptionally wet periods, to moderately clear during drier times when runoff in the watershed is minimal. Higher nutrient levels promote good fish growth but occasionally create algal blooms which become intense at times.