For Truman Lake, Lake of the Ozarks and the Osage River (below Bagnell Dam).
We’re finally getting more normal temperatures. While water temperatures are still cool for this time of the year, we’re finally in the low to mid 50’s at the surface. We haven’t gotten much rain and flows remain low. Despite this, snaggers are continuing to have good success on Truman Lake and Lake of the Ozarks. The Truman Lake fish have remained lower in the lake, whereas, the Lake of the Ozark fish have moved up some. On the reservoirs most of the fish they are harvesting are 36-42 inches and in good condition, we’re seeing a few of the larger females. We’re not seeing as many snaggers, which is typical as snagging seasons nears its end. Snaggers are catching several sublegal fish (24-34 inches), please get these fish back into the water unharmed immediately as these are the fish you will be harvesting in the future. We need rain to increase flows and get the fish moving and continued increases in water temperature. Think warm spring rains. Remember as water temperatures and flow increase snagging should improve and we’ll see more of the larger females.
The FALSE Rumors that we are closing snagging season next year continues. I’m not sure how these rumors got started, I want you know that these rumors are not true.
Avoid penalties! Use nets instead of gaffs to land fish
• Using a gaff to land paddlefish can injure or kill sublegal paddlefish, making you subject to a penalty. Use a large net to land all paddlefish safely.
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. This regulation has been in place for many years. Years ago, snagging was a catch and keep fishery except for sublegal fish – very few snaggers released any legal paddlefish. Today with improved electronics and people now trolling for paddlefish, they are catching a lot more fish, with some bragging about catching 20+ paddlefish in a day. The more these fish are caught and released the more chances for harm to the fish. Unlike other fish that are hooked in the mouth, paddlefish are hooked at various places on their body and potentially by more than one very large hook and gaffed to be brought into the boat each time they are caught – so there’s an increased chance of causing harm to the fish, especially the larger fish.
Violations cited this past week include no permit, and possessing and transporting paddlefish eggs.
A couple reminders – – We’re starting to see a lot of paddlefish carcasses/remains at some of the boat ramps. Please properly dispose of paddlefish carcasses/remains when cleaning fish at the boat ramps.
We are seeing more bank snaggers. 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.
Thanks to all the snaggers who have reported tagged paddlefish and are returning transmitters. 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, we will send it back to you. 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.
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. When lakes and rivers are rising due to heavy rain, logs and other debris can float downstream, and boaters need to be careful.
Once again, another week with very little rain. Water levels remain down and flows are low. Water temperatures are finally beginning to increase, low to mid 50’s at the surface. The Truman Lake level is down about 1 foot, Lake of the Ozarks is up slightly and the Osage River are about the same as last week. They are releasing some water at both Truman and Bagnell dams, minimum flows, with some periods of no flow at Truman Dam. With the decrease in flows the fish moved down. The extended forecast is calling for better temperatures with very few chances of rain. We need rain to increase flows. Without additional rains we will continue to see minimal flows at the dams. It is the increase that in flow that will get the fish moving – think warm spring rains. Remember as water temperature and flow increases snagging should improve.
• Best guess. With the decrease in flow we’re are seeing the fish remain down lower in the lake. Try the deep holes from Talley Bend to the Roscoe area and above. If we get rain and flow increases the fish should move back up and you may want to consider moving up a little higher towards Taberville and above.
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.
• 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
• Please remember the 34-inch length limit (eye to fork of tail on Lake Ozark and its tributaries. Also, snagging is not permitted from the no-fishing zone below Truman Dam to the Highway 65 Bridge.
• below the Highway 65 Bridge before you can start snagging. Go downstream and start snagging below the Highway 65 Bridge (about MM89.5) and down.
• 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.
• snaggers and they’re having moderate success and continuing to harvest fish up to 40+ pounds.
• On the Lower Osage River below Bagnell Dam, snagging is primarily done from a couple of miles above Pikes Camp all the way down to the Missouri River; the lower 25 miles. In the past, we’ve also seen snaggers out in the Missouri River. The water level is down to more normal levels and there is some flow. We are seeing very few snaggers, and haven’t heard of any fish being snagged in this area.
• 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.
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 for more details.
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. 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.