Waller Mill Reservoir - Fishing Opportunities
Waller Mill Reservoir is probably best known for its striper bass fishing. Anglers have caught some striped bass in the 20 to 30 pound range over the years. A beautiful 24-pound striped bass was caught on December 29th, 2006. Most anglers decide to use gizzard shad for bait and find that cast netting for shad is the best way to catch them. The gill net survey of November and December 2006 collected a total of 711 gizzard shad. The size distribution of the shad was basically broken up into two groups. There was an abundance of shad in the 5 to 8 inch range and in the 13 to 16 inch range. Most anglers would probably prefer to get their hands on some of the 7 to 8 inch shad and use them to catch a decent striped bass. The gill net survey was only able to collect a total of 24 striped bass. The November sample was more successful than the December effort with a total of 19 striped bass collected in November. Nets set off the points of the lower half of the reservoir produced the most action for striped bass. The majority of the collected stripers were in the 13 to 18 inch range. Five of the striped bass measured longer than 25 inches with the largest one measured at 31.77 inches and 11.33 pounds. The spring electrofishing survey was lucky in that we collected 6 striped bass ranging in size from 26 to 37 inches. The overcast conditions allowed the electrofishing boat a better opportunity to sneak up to these striped bass in the clear water.
Waller Mill Reservoir may not been known as the hot spot for trophy largemouth bass, but the reservoir does produce some good numbers of bass in the 2 to 4 pound range. The 2006 electrofishing survey collected a total of 128 bass. This catch rate of 64 bass/hr is almost double the rate collected during the 2003 survey. The bass appeared to be good health with the majority of the bass falling into the 12 to 18 inch size range. A total of 46 bass measured greater than 15 inches in length. This is a major swing in the size structure as the 2003 survey only collected 8 preferred-sized bass (greater than 15 inches). The largest bass measured 22.5 inches and weighed 6.56 pounds. The gill net survey revealed an abundance of bass as well. A total of 106 bass were collected in the gill nets. The majority of these bass were in the 11 to 15 inch range. Anglers that fish Waller Mill Reservoir in search of largemouth bass should be reminded that the reservoir has very steep-sided shorelines with a great deal of cover. Good numbers of bass like to hang tight to the overhanging shoreline brush. If the bass are not hanging tight to the cover, they might be staging in open water in an attempt to attack schools of gizzard shad. One of Waller Mill's largest bass was caught on December 29, 2006 and it measured a very impressive 24 inches in length.
The white perch population is very abundant in Waller Mill Reservoir. Anglers that are targeting the bass with light tackle jigs and spinners will probably keep pretty busy with the white perch. White perch tend to form very tight schools. When you catch a couple white perch, there should be a large school nearby. This was the case during the trap net survey of 2005, which collected 566 white perch. One of the trap nets on the lower half of the reservoir caught 161 white perch the first night. That record catch didn't stand too long as we caught 172 white perch the next night from a trap net set in the upper half of the reservoir. The majority of these white perch measured in the 8 to 10 inch range with a few measured up to 12 inches. The 2006 electrofishing survey collected a school of 65 white perch in the back of a small cove. These white perch measured in the 9 to 11 inch range. The gill net surveys collected a whopping total of 1,008 white perch. The same abundance of 8 to 11 inch white perch was observed along with a large number of perch in the 5 to 7 inch range. The experimental gill nets are 150 feet long and they have 6 nets panels of various mesh openings. This allowed for the collection of the smaller white perch that were not seen during the trap netting and the electrofishing. The majority of the larger white perch collected by gill nets were from the lower half of the reservoir.
The black crappie population in Waller Mill Reservoir appears to be in decent shape. The trap net survey of 2005 was not very successful for crappies, but the gill net survey of 2006 yielded a total of 275 black crappies. The majority of this total was collected during the November netting of the upper half of the reservoir. The size distribution of these fish revealed the presence of various year classes. This is a good sign that recruitment issues are not a problem. A large percentage of the collected crappies were in the 7 to 9 inch range with a good number in the 9 to 11 inch range. The survey collected 12 crappies that were in the 12 to 14 inch range. The spring electrofishing collected several crappies in the 12 to 14 inch range as well.
Waller Mill Reservoir provides some limited angling for bluegills. The bluegill population primarily consists of fish less than 7 inches in length. Surveys conducted in 2006 were consistent with 50 bluegills collected in the gill nets and 50 bluegills from the electrofishing. The majority of both samples consisted of fish in the 4 to 7 inch range. Very few bluegills less than 4 inches in length were collected. The abundance of white perch in the system has most likely had a detrimental impact on the recruitment of young bluegill over the last few years.
Waller Mill Reservoir offers a variety of species from the catfish family. The gill net survey collected white catfish, channel catfish, yellow bullhead and brown bullhead. A total of 86 white catfish were collected with the majority of them in the 10 to 15 inch range. The largest white catfish measured an impressive 18.5 inches. Only a couple channel cats measuring 18 and 24 inches were collected. A few brown bullheads in the 12 to 13 inch range were collected. Eleven yellow bullheads in the 7 to 11 inch range were collected. The abundance of white catfish was a nice surprise.