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Latest Paddlefish Report from Department of MDC

Paddlefish Report

Section 1: Updated weekly during paddlefish season

Report for April 6, 2022

Report for Truman Lake, Lake of the Ozarks, the Osage River (below Bagnell Dam) and Table Rock Lake

General Conditions

In the Osage Basin, water temperatures are cooler than normal and we’re slowly making it into the low 50’s. With not much rain, water levels and flows are coming down. With these conditions snagging has been slow yet still slowly beginning to improve and the fish remain scattered out. It’s still early in the season, snagging should continue to improve. At Table Rock Lake, water temperatures are good, there was some flow and it’s now coming back down. Snagging has been good. All areas are forecast to be warmer next week along with several days of rain possible. So, we should see an increase in flow coming into all three the reservoirs and snagging should improve.

 

Most of the fish that they are harvesting are 34-41 inches, with a few 50+ pound fish. We’re starting to see more of the larger fish, especially on Table Rock Lake. The fish are in good condition – nice and fat! Snaggers are seeing a lot of sublegal fish on the reservoirs, especially 30-33.9-inch fish, these fish are from the really large 2016 stocking. A few of these fish may become legal this year, most of them becoming legal next year or the following year. It is extremely important to release all sublegal fish unharmed immediately and gently as they are the fish you will be harvesting in the future. Please don’t use gaffs on these sublegal fish.

 

Violations cited this past week include – taking fish without a permit/no permit, failure to keep fish separate and/or identifiable, and attempting to take an over limit.

Dispose of your fish-cleaning waste responsibly when cleaning paddlefish. Help keep areas clean and inviting for everyone to enjoy.

If anyone has info that they would like on share with me on any of the snagging areas, I’d enjoy hearing from you.

If you have any questions call 660-530-5500 or email Trish.Yasger@mdc.mo.gov

 

 

New Paddlefish Regulations for 2022:

  • Statewide minimum length limit of 32-inches (measured from eye to fork of tail). Please note – the existing minimum length limit of 34-inches (eye to fork of tail) will remain in effect for Lake of the Ozarks, Truman Lake and Table Rock Lake and their tributaries. There is no change in the minimum length limit on the reservoirs and their tributaries.
  • On Table Rock Lake, no person shall continue to snag, snare, or grab for any species after taking a daily limit of two (2) paddlefish.
  • Definition of Snagging: The act of hooking or attempting to hook a fish in a part of the body other than the mouth or jaw by means of a pole, line and hook. Snagging is characterized by a repeated drawing or jerking motion of the pole, line and hook or by trolling with an unbaited hook rather than enticement by bait or lure.

 

 

Snagging places and prospects

Truman Lake

Please remember the 34-inch-length limit (eye to fork of tail) on Truman Lake and its tributaries.

Water Temperature and Flow

Truman Lake is down almost 2-feet from last week, about down to normal pool. There has been flow. Continue to watch for logs & debris in the water and be cautious. They have been releasing water from Truman Dam; however, they have started cutting back releases and predicted to be down to minimal releases by the weekend. The water temperature is cool for this time of year, low 50’s at the surface

 

Fishing Prospect

Snagging is continuing to slowly improve. The fish are scattered out. We’re not seeing a lot of snaggers. Snagging is better from Berry Bend to Osceola. Snaggers are harvesting primarily small fish (34-40-inch fish) and we’ve seen the occasional larger females 50+ lbs. All the fish we’re seeing are in good condition – nice and fat! Snaggers are catching a lot of sublegal fish (24-33.9-inch fish), please be sure to release these fish immediately unharmed.

Best guess

Water temperatures are cool for this time of year, and the fish are scattered out and snagging has been better lower in the lake. The water levels is dropping, continue to watch for debris – please use caution and stay safe. Try the deep holes below and around the Fox Run, Talley Bend and Osceola areas. As water temperatures and flows increase you may want to consider moving up higher in the lake.

Lake of the Ozarks

Please remember the 34-inch length limit (eye to fork of tail) on Lake Ozark and its tributaries. Snagging is not permitted from the no-fishing zone below Truman Dam to the Highway 65 Bridge.

Water Temperature and Flow

Lake of the Ozarks up about 1-foot from last week. There is flow, they are releasing water from both Truman and Bagnell dams, they will be cutting releases back with Truman going to minimum flows this weekend. The water temperature is cool for this time of year, low 50’s at the surface.

Fishing Prospect

Water temperatures are cool for this time of year, and the fish are scattered out and snagging has been better lower in the lake. Snagging is continuing to slowly improve. Snaggers are harvesting primarily small fish (35-40-inch fish) and we’ve seen a few larger females 60+ lbs, We’re seeing the occasional limit.  The fish are scattered out from MM50 up to the Highway 65 bridge (about MM89.5). Snagging has been better lower in the lake MM60-MM80. Snaggers are having better luck in the Niangua Arm and were seeing a few more of the larger females. All the fish we’re seeing are in good condition – nice and fat! Snaggers are catching several sublegal fish (24-33.9-inch fish), please be sure to release these fish immediately unharmed.

 

Best guess

Water temperatures are cool for this time of year, and the fish are scattered out and snagging has been better lower in the lake and in the Niangua Arm. Try the deep holes from MM55 up to the Highway 65 bridge. Currently, snaggers are having better luck lower in the lake below MM75 and in the Niangua. Try the deep holes below and above Wigwam School Access (MM66.2). As water temperatures and flows increase you may want to consider moving up higher in the lake, towards Truman Dam.

 

Osage River

Please remember on the Osage River below Bagnell Dam, the minimum length has increased to 32 inches (eye to fork of tail). Snagging is not permitted from the no-snagging zone from Bagnell Dam to U.S. Highway 54 Bridge.

Upper Osage River (below Bagnell Dam – Miller County)

A snag fishery exists for a few miles below the Highway 54 Bridge to RM78 (just past the golf course). Water temperatures are in the low 50sF, they’re releasing water from Bagnell Dam so there is flow and water levels are fluctuating, they’ve begun cutting back releases. With the new, increased 32-inch minimum length limit snaggers will not be harvesting as many fish as they have in the past. Snaggers are primarily harvesting 32-34-inch fish and the occasional larger female.

Lower Osage River (below Bagnell Dam – Cole County)

Snagging is primarily done from a couple of miles above Pikes Camp all the way down to the Missouri River; the lower 25 miles. Most of the snagging is below the low water dam. Occasionally we also see snaggers out in the Missouri River. Water temperatures are in the low 50’s, they’re releasing water from Bagnell Dam so there is flow and water levels are fluctuating, they’ve begun cutting back releases. With the new, increased 32-inch minimum length limit snaggers will not be harvesting as many fish as they have in the past. We aren’t seeing many snaggers in this area. Snaggers are primarily harvesting primarily 32-inch fish.

 

Table Rock Lake

Please remember the 34-inch-length limit (eye to fork of tail) on Table Rock Lake and its tributaries. New this year – no person shall continue to snag, snare, or grab for any species after taking a daily limit of two (2) paddlefish on Table Rock Lake.

Water Temperature and Flow

Table Rock Lake is up 1.5-feet from last week. They are releasing water from Table Rock Dam, with the recent rains there has been a little flow coming down the James River Arm.  The water temperature is in the mid to upper 50’s at the surface.

Fishing Prospect

Snagging is good, with the good water temperatures and increase in flow some of the fish have started moving up. Snaggers are having luck from Cape Fair to Point 15 and above. Snaggers are harvesting primarily small fish (35-42-inch fish) and we’re starting to see a few more larger females 60+ lbs, We are seeing a few limits. All the fish we’re seeing are in good condition – nice and fat! Snaggers are catching a lot of sublegal fish (24-33.9-inch fish), please be sure to release these fish immediately unharmed.

 

Best guess for opening day

The fish starting to move up.  Try the deep holes around Virgin Bluff to Point 15 and above. As water temperatures and flows increase, you may want to consider moving up a little higher up the James River Arm towards Walnut Springs and McCord Bend.

 

Section 2: Updated as needed

Public Ramps

Truman Lake

  • Talley Bend Access: go upstream towards Horseshoe Bend and up towards the Walker Hole/ Weaubleau Creek and above towards Osceola OR downstream towards Fox Run.
  • Brush Creek Access: Closed until further notice.
  • Crowes Crossing: to downstream towards Walker Hole/ Weaubleau Creek and below OR upstream towards Roscoe and/or go up the Sac River a couple of miles.
  • City of Osceola: go upstream towards Roscoe and/or go up the Sac River a couple of miles OR go downstream towards Brush Creek Access and down to Walker Hole/ Weaubleau Creek. This has become a popular bank snagging area, please be courteous of the bank snaggers.
  • Sac River Access/Highway 82: go down stream towards the Osage, snagging the last couple of miles of the Sac, then continue on toward Osceola and below OR go up towards the Roscoe Access and above.
  • Roscoe Access: go downstream to where the Sac and Osage meet, then go up the Sac River a couple of miles or continue downstream towards Osceola OR go upstream towards Taberville and above.
  • Taberville: go downstream towards Roscoe and below OR go upstream towards the cut and above.

Lake of the Ozarks

  • Browns Bend (around MM61.5): I’ve been told when the water is low, it can be difficult to get from the ramp to the lake since the cove is somewhat shallow and this isn’t a very large ramp, so not a lot of parking spaces. Go upstream between MM61 and MM65 and above OR downstream towards MM50.
    • Caution: With the low lake levels some people, especially the snaggers with deeper, V-bottom boats and pontoons, find it difficult to get out of the cove. Be sure to always use caution.
  • Wigwam School Access (MM66.2): go downstream towards MM62 and below OR upstream towards MM72 – Big Buffalo Creek.
  • Warsaw (Drake) Harbor Access: you must go below the Highway 65 Bridge before you start snagging. Go downstream and start snagging below the Highway 65 Bridge (about MM89.5) and below.
  • Bledsoe Ferry Access:  you must go below the Highway 65 Bridge before you start snagging. Go downstream and start snagging below the Highway 65 Bridge (about MM89.5) and below.
  • Larry Gale Access — Niangua Arm: go downstream to where the Little Niangua joins the big Niangua or upstream toward Highway 54.

There are numerous private ramps that you can pay to launch from.

Osage River

  • Bagnell Dam Access: you must go below the Highway 54 Bridge before you can start snagging.
  • Bonnots Mill Access: go up or downstream. Occasionally we see snaggers out in the Missouri River.
  • Mari-Osa Access: go downstream below the Highway 63 bridge towards Bonnots Mill and below, OR upstream towards the lock and dam.
  • Pikes Camp Access: go upstream a couple of miles, OR downstream towards the lock and dam.

Table Rock Lake

  • Cape Fair Access: go upstream towards Bridgeport.
  • Bridgeport Access: go downstream towards Cape Fair or upstream towards Walnut Spring.
  • Walnut Spring Access: go downstream towards Bridgeport or upstream towards McCord Bend.
  • Blunks Access: go downstream toward McCord Bend or upstream toward Cox.
    • Caution: a jet boat, canoe, or kayak is needed when launching at Blunks.
  • Cox Access: go downstream towards McCord Bend or upstream towards Kerr.
    • Caution: a jet boat, canoe, or kayak is needed when launching at Cox.
  • Kerr Access: go downstream towards Cox or upstream towards Hootentown.
    • Caution: a jet boat, canoe, or kayak is needed when launching at Kerr.
  • Hootentown Access: go downstream towards Kerr or fish the deep hole in front of the access.
    • Caution: a jet boat, canoe, or kayak is needed when launching at Hootentown and it is difficult to boat more than a few miles above Hootentown, except during high water.
  • Shelvin Rock Access: bank snagging is more common at this access.
    • Caution: a jet boat, canoe, or kayak is needed when launching at Shelvin Rock. A limited area is available to navigate to by jet boat, a large bedrock shelf upstream prevents boating further upstream during low water.
  • Delaware Town Access: bank snagging is more common at this access.
    • Caution: a jet boat, canoe, or kayak is needed when launching at Delaware Town.
  • Tailwaters Access (Springfield City Utilities): bank snagging below Lake Springfield Dam is most common here.

Dispose of Fish Waste Responsibly

Dispose of your fish-cleaning waste responsibly when cleaning paddlefish.  Each year, MDC receives numerous nuisance complaints of fish-cleaning waste on the banks around the public fishing accesses, especially during the paddlefish snagging season.

In addition to using trash receptacles, disposing of fish-cleaning waste back into the water is allowed. Fish-cleaning waste should not be allowed to pile up near the water’s edge. It should be discarded into deeper water or in the flowing part of the stream where it cannot end up washing on to the bank or concentrated in one area.

It is important to remember that the Wildlife Code of Missouri states that extracted paddlefish eggs may not be possessed while on the water or adjacent banks and may not be transported. Disposing of paddlefish eggs in trash receptacles and immediately back into the water is allowed. You cannot transport the eggs to another location. This includes by boat out to deeper water for disposal.

Please be considerate, and responsibly dispose of fish-cleansing waste, help keep areas clean and inviting for everyone to enjoy.

Snagging Depends on Weather Conditions

Snagging is very dependent on environmental conditions – photoperiod, water temperature and flow. As daylight gets longer, paddlefish will start congregating in deep holes. Then as water temperatures reach 50-55F and there is an increase in flow, paddlefish migrate upstream to spawn. The increase in flow is what triggers them to make the spawning run. As the water temperature and flow increase, the fish will move upstream in the reservoir or river.

If we get a dry spring without much rain, snagging may not be as good as it has been in the past, and the fish will tend to remain lower in the reservoirs or rivers. On the other hand, if we have a very wet spring, fish will move up higher in the reservoirs or rivers. In some areas, snagging may be very difficult or hazardous if flooding occurs. During flooding events paddlefish will move out of the heavy flows to wait until flows come down. When reservoirs and rivers are rising due to heavy rains, logs and other debris can float downstream, and boaters need to be careful.

Typically, snagging tends to be good opening day, and then it often slows down. Early in the season, water temperatures are cool, and fish tend to be scattered out and lower in the reservoirs or rivers. Harvest is primarily made up of “local” fish, smaller males and immature females. Males make spawning migrations before females, with more and larger females showing up when water temperatures are 55F and greater. It is the increase in flow that will get the fish moving – think warm spring rains! Remember as water temperature and flow increase snagging improves!

Permits Required

Unless exempt, you must possess a valid fishing permit if you are snagging or driving the boat used for snagging.

Reminder

Do not clean paddlefish while you are on the water.

The head, tail, and skin must remain attached to all fish that have length limits while those fish are on the water.

Alerts and Reminders

COVID-19 Precautions

Please follow guidance from the CDC and state/local public health authorities.

Advisories

Check the paddlefish regulations

  • Please remember — on Lake of the Ozarks and its tributaries, the Osage River below U.S. Highway 54, on Truman Lake and its tributaries, and on Table Rock Lake — no person shall continue to snag, snare, or grab for any species after taking a daily limit of two (2) paddlefish.
  • Once two legal paddlefish are caught, they are to be retained by the angler and included in their daily limit.
  • Once you’ve taken your second fish, you are done snagging for the day.
  • Unless exempt, you must possess a valid fishing permit if you are snagging or driving the boat used for snagging.
  • Extracted paddlefish eggs may not be possessed while on the water or adjacent banks and may not be transported. Paddlefish eggs may not be bought, sold, or offered for sale.
  • Do not clean paddlefish while you are on the water. The head, tail, and skin must remain attached to all fish that have length limits while those fish are on the water.

Release Sublegal Fish Unharmed — Immediately

MDC maintains the paddlefish populations in Truman Lake, Lake of the Ozarks, and Table Rock Lake with annual stockings of fingerlings from MDC’s Blind Pony Hatchery. It takes paddlefish seven to eight years to grow to legal size. In 2016 more than 314,000-foot-long fingerlings were stocked — MDC’s largest stocking of paddlefish. These fish will be large enough to harvest beginning in 2023, with a few becoming legal in 2022. As these fish grow, snaggers will catch a lot of these sublegal fish. It is extremely important to release all sublegal fish unharmed immediately and gently because they are the fish that you will be harvesting over the next several years!

 

The Code states that sublegal paddlefish must be returned unharmed immediately after being caught!

  • Take care when removing hooks and get the fish back into the water as quickly as possible.
  • Be sure that your hands are wet before handling and avoid excessive handling.
  • Do not pass fish around for photos.
  • Hold fish firmly to avoid dropping them, and never put your fingers in the gills or eyes.

Tagged Paddlefish

Thank you to all the snaggers who have reported tagged paddlefish. Please continue to report all tagged paddlefish that you catch.

  • You can keep the silver jaw tags on legal-sized fish — we will just need a picture of the tag to verify the number.
  • Report sublegal paddlefish, but please do not remove the tags.

While supplies last, we will send an “I Caught a Missouri Paddlefish” t-shirt or paddlefish hat to those reporting a tag.

Continuing to report tagged paddlefish will help us monitor and better manage paddlefish. Together we can keep paddlefish snagging great for many years to come.

To report tagged fish, call 573-579-6825.

“Catch and Release” Snagging Prohibited

Unlike other species of fish in Missouri, the catch and release of legal paddlefish, any fish of legal length, is not permitted. In other words, once a legal paddlefish is caught, that fish is to be retained or kept by the angler and included in their daily limit; these fish cannot be released. However, all sublegal (fish less than the legal length limit) paddlefish must be released unharmed immediately. Once two legal paddlefish are caught, they are to be retained by the angler and included in their daily limit.

Please remember that on Lake of the Ozarks and its tributaries, Osage River below U.S. Highway 54, Truman Lake and its tributaries, and Table Rock Lake no person shall continue to snag, snare, or grab for any species after taking a daily limit of two (2) paddlefish. Be sure to check the Wildlife Code of Missouri for paddlefish regulations.

Paddlefishing Courtesy

We are continuing to see more bank snaggers, especially on Truman Lake. When operating a boat near bank snaggers please be considerate of them. Please slow down and give them space; running into their line risks pulling them into the water. Everyone needs to stay safe. When snagging on private property be sure to obtain permission from the landowner.

 

If you have any questions call 660-530-5500 or email Trish.Yasger@mdc.mo.gov.

Dial 1-800-392-1111 anytime to report illegal activity

In 2013, Conservation Agents broke up an international paddlefish-trafficking operation in Warsaw. This group of poachers stole a lot of fish from legal snaggers. We aren’t sure what effect that this illegal activity has had on Missouri’s paddlefish population. If you see or suspect illegal snagging activity, please report it immediately. Your identity will remain anonymous, and a reward is possible depending on successful prosecution of the case. Visit our Operation Game Thief page below for more details.

 

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