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A large crop of crappie from 2017 is now coming into prime size for anglers.

The stars have aligned for another crappie “boom” at C.J. Strike Reservoir, and anglers will likely reap the benefits for the next couple of years.

“We have a big 2017 year class of fish at C.J. Strike, and they are just starting to grow to a size that anglers can catch them,” Idaho Fish and Game biologist Mike Peterson said.

Crappie have probably been in C.J. Strike since the 1970s, although records are vague, and there have been boom and bust cycles in crappie populations since then. What exactly drives those cycles is somewhat of a mystery, but biologists at Fish and Game are studying them at C.J. Strike Reservoir to get a better understanding.

Populations tend to rise and fall

Biologists know that crappie are prolific spawners with each female crappie producing up to 20,000 eggs, and by comparison, an average-sized trout typically produces less than a thousand. Biologists know that spawning takes place annually in the reservoir, which produces a new generation of crappie, but that doesn’t mean the reservoir produces a banner crop of adult crappie each year.

Biologists are looking for answers why, but they haven’t found correlation between high numbers of newly hatched crappie and good fishing three or four years down the road. So, for a banner year class of crappie to be recruited into the fishery, certain — and to this point largely unknown — factors must perfectly align after the crappie hatch, which appears to be the case after the 2017 class hatched at C.J. Strike.

A boom is taking shape

These fish survived at high rates through the larval stage, which is the next

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