By Craig Schaugaard

For the last couple of years crappie fishing at Willard Bay has been hit and miss due, in large part, to the lack of spawning and rearing habitat. Crappie require submerged vegetation to spawn so that after the eggs hatch the fry can move to the vegetation to escape predation.

This spring the DWR, with the cooperation of State Parks, Weber Basin Water Users and with the help on the ground from a Hooper Scout troop and fishing clubs, provided some of the much-needed habitat by submerging Christmas trees in several areas throughout the reservoir.

Another benefit of the trees is that as the adults congregate in these areas to spawn, it is also a good place to fish in the spring and catch a limit of crappie.

The Christmas trees were placed in three locations south of the north marina. Locations were chosen so they would be out of the way of boaters and jetskiers and yet would still be utilized by crappie. Groups of 15 to 20 trees were set in the three areas. This was accomplished by boring a hole at the base of the trees and threading a metal cable through the hole and attaching 2 to 3 tires, filled with cement, to sink the trees. The trees were then towed out and sunk in 10 to 15 feet of water. Some of the tops of the trees are still visible but will sink as they become water logged. This should provide habitat for 2 to 4 years before they decompose.

The success of the project will be monitored and if it appears that the trees help the crappie reproduce and survive, more trees will be used in the future. Crappie in Willard Bay grow well and provide a suitable size for anglers; we just need to get the numbers up to provide a more constant fishery. Hopefully, the Christmas trees will provide the habitat needed to accomplish this goal and make a "merry" little fishing hole.