For Truman Lake, Lake of the Ozarks and the Osage River (below Bagnell Dam).
Not much has changed from last week. Water temperatures are slowly getting warmer and there is still flow. Truman Lake water levels are coming down and flows are dropping too. They are releasing water from both Truman and Bagnell dams, so there is good flow on Lake of the Ozarks. Snagging is beginning to slow down on Truman Lake and snaggers continue to have success on Lake of the Ozarks. As water levels and flows are coming down on upper Truman the fish are starting to move back down. Fish on Lake of the Ozark have moved up; we’re seeing fish harvested all the way up to Hwy. 65 Bridge. Most of the fish that they are harvesting are 36-42 inches and in good condition. We’re seeing more of large females harvested on Lake of the Ozarks. The Osage River below Bagnell Dam is up, and we’re also seeing the paddlefish move up here too. Water releases should continue at both Truman and Bagnell Dams. They are calling for rain and nice spring weather this next week.
Staff spawned paddlefish at Blind Pony Hatchery at the beginning of April. The fry are looking good and should all be moved outside to hatchery ponds by the end of the week This fall the fingerlings will be stocked into Lake of the Ozarks, Harry S. Truman Reservoir, Table Rock Lake and Black River. It will take these fish about 7-years to reach legal size – 34-inches on the reservoirs. These fish will be large enough to begin harvesting in 2026.
Violations cited this past week include snagging in no snagging zone, fishing without a permit and continuing to snag after catching two paddlefish. Please remember to keep fish separate and identifiable and that fish fillets in coolers need to be properly labeled.
There has been a lot of discussion regarding “catch and release” snagging. 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, they 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, and Truman Lake and its tributaries, 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.
We are continuing to see more bank snaggers. When operating a boat near bank snaggers please be conscientious 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.
Thanks to all the snaggers who have reported tagged paddlefish. Please continue to report all tagged fish. Yes, you can keep the silver jaw tags, we will need a picture of the tag or if you send it in, you’ll need to flatten it and we will send it back to you. Please do not remove tags from sublegal fish. Reporting tagged fish will help us monitor and better manage paddlefish, together we can keep paddlefish snagging great for many years to come.
If you have any questions call 660-530-5500 or email Trish.Yasger@mdc.mo.gov.
Report tagged fish – get a reward
MDC is conducting a long term study to improve paddlefish management. Please report all tagged paddlefish that you catch. Participating qualifies you to enter a raffle for up to $500.00 Find out how to participate.
Snagging success depends on the weather
Snagging is very dependent on weather conditions, primarily water temperature and flow. When water temperatures reach 50–55F and flow increases, paddlefish migrate upstream to spawn. Early in the season harvest is primarily made up of “local” fish, smaller males and immature females. As water temperature and flow increase, the fish will move upstream in the reservoir or river. Males make spawning migrations before females, with more females showing up when water temperatures are 55F and greater.
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 for flows to come down. When lakes and rivers are rising due to heavy rain, logs and other debris can float downstream, and boaters need to be careful.
With the nice weather we’ve been having, water temperatures are slowly increasing, and we have good flows. Water temperatures are in the upper 50’s/low 60’s on upper Truman Lake and upper 50’s on Lake of the Ozarks. The Truman Lake water level is continuing to come down as they continue to release water from Truman Dam. Water levels on Lake of the Ozarks are up slightly. The Osage River below Bagnell Dam is up. They are releasing water from both Truman and Bagnell dams, these releases should continue. The extended forecast is calling for rain and nice spring temperatures this week.
Snagging places and prospects
Remember: after you have snagged your second paddlefish, you are done snagging for the day
• Please remember the 34-inch-length limit (eye to fork of tail) on Truman Lake and its tributaries.
• Truman Lake is coming down, yet still several feet above normal pool, and flows are dropping. They have been releasing water from Truman Dam. The water temperature is in the upper 50’s/low 60’s.
• Snagging is beginning to slow down as water levels and flows drop. The fish are a little more scattered out. They are catching some fish from Osceola area to Taberville and above. Snaggers are harvesting primarily 36-42 inch fish and we’re seeing a few of the larger females harvested. Snaggers are catching some sublegal fish (20-34 inch fish), please be sure to release these fish unharmed immediately.
• Best guess. With the water levels and flows dropping the fish are beginning to move back down into the lake. Try the deep holes from the Osceola area to Taberville and above. As the fish move down, you’ll may want to move down too.
Public ramps to launch — from down to upstream
• 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: go downstream towards Walker Hole/ Weaubleau Creek and below OR upstream towards Osceola and above.
• Caution: When the lake level is at normal pool (706’ msl) and below, some people, especially the snaggers with deeper, V-bottom boats and pontoons, find it difficult to get out of the cove at Brush Creek Access. Be sure to always use caution.
• Crowes Crossing: go 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.