Anglers in northeast Arkansas will have another opportunity enjoy tilapia fishing in area lakes. Lake Hogue and Mallard Lake were stocked with record numbers of tilpaia on May 12th. This is the fourth year in a row that these "exotics" have been stocked into public fishing lakes. For the last three years Lake Hogue received annual stockings of adult tilapia as part of a research project to see if they would benefit the lake's largemouth bass population. An unexpected spin-off from the project was that bream anglers found that tilapia were easily caught using bream fishing techniques. Tilapia soon gained a reputation of being hard fighters and as well as being excellent table fare.
Tilapia's popularity as a sportfish prompted the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to continue stocking them in order to enhance sportfishing opportunities in selected lakes. Three hundred acre Mallard Lake in Mississippi County was chosen to be the second lake stocked with these "African bream". Mallard Lake received over 20,000 tilapia of various sizes while Lake Hogue was stocked with almost 23,000 this year.
Anglers seeking tilapia should use the same techniques that they use while bream fishing. Red worms seem to be the most effective tilapia bait with crickets coming in a close second. Reports from fishermen indicate that most of the fish are caught while fishing in shallow water and by suspending their bait just off of the bottom or by letting it lay on the bottom.
Tilapia are native to Africa and cannot survive during Arkansas' cold winter months. A total, tilapia die--off is expected to take place in late November. No daily creel limit has been established for tilapia so that the public can utilize as much of this seasonal resource as possible. The total cost of the total, tilapia stocking project is over $14,000.