My friend and fellow outdoor writer, Ken White, asked me an excellent question recently. It seems the Stockton Lake Association has a booklet that lists the possession limit for crappie there as 60. Something about that didn’t seem right to Ken, so he checked with me, and I confirmed that the Stockton Lake Association has it right.
Ken’s confusion is completely understandable, and I think anglers across Missouri could benefit from an explanation. The root of his uncertainty lies in the fact that Missouri’s fishing regulations include several kinds of limits. The ones important here are daily/possession limits and local/statewide limits.
The LOCAL daily limit on crappie at Stockton is 15. That means an angler can never possess more than 15 crappie on the lake or on its banks. However, the STATEWIDE daily limit on crappie is 30, and the STATEWIDE possession limit is twice the daily limit. So, if an angler fishes for four days at Stockton and keeps a limit of crappie each day, he or she can legally accumulate 60 crappie (120 delicious fillets!) in a cooler back at the resort or motel room.
The same thing applies to local and statewide limits on crappie and other fish on other waters of the state. For example, Montrose Lake in Henry County has a LOCAL minimum length limit of 18 inches on black bass and a LOCAL daily limit of two black bass. But since the STATEWIDE daily limit is six, that makes the STATEWIDE possession limit 12. If you were lucky enough to catch two 18-inch bucketmouths a day six days in a row at Montrose Lake, you could legally fill up a pretty sizeable cooler with bass.
I hope an army of angry bass anglers doesn’t hunt me down and beat me senseless with ugly sticks. I am not suggesting that anglers kill 12 hefty largemouths in under a week just because they can. As far as I’m concerned, an 18-inch bass is worth far more in the water than it is in the skillet. But harvesting fish within the specified limits is legal and sustainable.