Flannagan Reservoir - Fishing Opportunities
Black bass populations (largemouth and smallmouth) are stable, and offer good numbers of fish in the 12 to 15-inch ranges with a good shot at a trophy. Smallmouths are more abundant along the rocky banks and bluffs in the lower reaches of the reservoir and in the Pound River arm of the lake. Largemouths seem to dominate the Cranesnest arm of the reservoir. Soft plastics, jigs and spinnerbaits are popular during the daytime. As you might expect with the ultra clear water, night fishing is very popular at Flannagan. At night, buzzbaits, top water plugs and jig-n-pigs are productive. Surface action can also be fantastic for a few hours at dawn in late summer.
Walleye fishing success has declined at Flannagan since the fish kill in the fall of 2004. There are still decent numbers of walleye to be caught, but densities are much lower than they were from 2000 to 2004. Anglers will probably be pleased with the average size of walleyes landed this year, but might be disappointed with the numbers of fish caught. Flannagan is still a "Priority" walleye water, meaning that the lake receives the maximum number of walleye fingerlings per acre, and the lake is stocked every year. Hopefully these annual stockings will rebuild the population quickly.
Spawning walleyes run into the Pound and Cranesnest Rivers during March. Some fish also spawn on rocky banks in the lower reaches of the reservoir. Anglers are able to entice some of these spawning fish with minnow plugs such as the Rapala. During April and May walleyes return to the reservoir and gather in feeding locations along the banks. Successful anglers fish at night, when walleyes are feeding on spawning alewives. Shallow running plugs and surface baits are most effective. June is a transition month, with some walleyes remaining shallow and others moving to deeper summer habitats. Deep running lures like the Spoonbill Rebel are a good choice. July, August and September find walleyes in 20 to 40 feet of water. Anglers are learning to catch these deeper fish by trolling night crawler harnesses or plugs on lead core line. Most Flannagan anglers take to the woods for deer hunting in fall and winter, but a few anglers have had good success catching walleyes on jigging spoons during the winter.
Hybrid striped bass
Hybrid striped bass were first stocked into Flannagan Reservoir in 1999. These fast-growing, hard fighting fish are already providing some exciting angling. Hybrids stocked in 1999 now exceed 16 inches. The hybrid fishery is still relatively new at Flannagan, but several distinct seasonal patterns have emerged. Topwater lures are a good choice when alewives come shallow to spawn at night in April and May. Fishing with live alewives or other baits under floating lights at night is effective during the summer months. In late summer and early fall, anglers wait patiently in key locations for the opportunity to cast into surface “breaks”. Hybrids chase schools of shad to the surface where a frenzy of feeding results. Almost any lure that can be cast into a break will result in an immediate strike. These breaks are more common early and late in the day, but they can occur throughout the day, especially if rain or overcast conditions prevail. Hybrid striped bass are stocked into Flannagan each year.
Crappie fishing has really improved in recent years. The Department began a multi-pronged approach to improve the crappie population in 1998. We began stocking adult crappie (average size of six inches) to bolster the spawning population. A minimum size limit of 10 inches was established on January 1, 1999. Finally, fisheries biologists have worked with local volunteers and the Corps of Engineers to enhance crappie habitat. To date, more than 75 hinge-trees and hardwood brush shelters have been established.
Crappie fishing is very good in the Pound and Cranesnest River arms during the early spring months. Crappie congregate on submerged trees and other brush and can be caught on live minnows or jigs in the daytime. During the summer months anglers have good success fishing at night under floating lights. Live minnows and small jigs are the best baits.
Flannagan also offers good bluegill fishing. Nice 'gills are often caught out of submerged trees by anglers targeting crappie during the early spring. Spawning bluegills congregate in the backs of coves and on shallow flats in the river arms during May. After spawning is complete, bluegills move to deeper water. Successful anglers find bluegills 10 to 15 feet deep along rocky shorelines and bluffs during the summer months. Jigs and small lures can be effective, but most anglers fish live bait in the form of worms or crickets.
Both channel catfish and flathead catfish are present in the lake. Good numbers of "eating size" channels are caught each year, with an occasional trophy landed. Channel cats are caught on live bait, cut bait, chicken livers and artificial lures. Trolling for channel cats at Flannagan is increasing in popularity. Some huge flatheads are waiting for anglers at Flannagan. Fish to 40 pounds have been landed. The abundance of rocky banks and steep bluffs provide excellent habitat for this species.
Carp are an under-utilized resource at Flannagan Reservoir. Some enormous carp swim in these clear waters. Some anglers have a chance encounter with these hard fighting fish while fishing for other species, but few anglers target the carp.