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Published on: Jun. 30, 2010

percent of respondents who expressed an opinion indicated the quality of catfishing at Truman Reservoir had declined over the past 10 years. MDC staff also documented high harvest and slow growth of blue catfish at Truman Reservoir during our Reservoir Catfish Evaluation Project from 2003 to 2008. Research showed a blue catfish harvest rate 2 to 3 times higher than reported in similar studies nationwide.

In comparison to most other game fish species, catfish (especially blue and flathead) are long-lived and slow growing. It takes a blue catfish in Truman and Lake Ozark about 15 years to reach 31 inches in length and a weight of about 12 pounds. A 15-year-old blue catfish that is 31 inches today can easily live another 10 to 15 years and reach 60 or 80 pounds.

Due to high fishing pressure and angler harvest, the numbers of qualitysized blue catfish in Truman have steadily declined since the mid 1990s.

For slow-growing fish such as blue catfish, once a decline occurs, it takes a significant amount of time (6-7 years) to start reversing the trend and rebuilding the population.

In May, we held a series of stakeholder meetings to discuss potential blue catfish regulation changes for Truman and Lake Ozark. Those in attendance included recreational and tournament anglers, catfishing guides, organized catfish angler groups, bait shop and marina owners, media representatives, judges and prosecuting attorneys, local chambers of commerce, state representatives and other government and non-government groups such as the Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Ameren UE.

The majority of attendees at these stakeholder meetings were in favor of more protective regulations.

The potential regulations could set a daily limit of either five or 10 blue catfish and establish a protected slot length limit. Anglers would be permitted to keep either one or two blue catfish larger than the upper end of the protected slot. The possession limit would be twice the statewide daily limit.

Any regulation changes would apply to Truman Reservoir, Lake Ozark and their tributaries including the no-boating zone below Truman Dam. For the no-boating zone, flathead and channel catfish regulations would revert to the current statewide regulations of five flathead catfish and 10 channel catfish daily. The possession limit would be twice the statewide daily limit.

Because the fishery on Lake Ozark is currently in good shape compared to Truman, improvements in the fishery would occur, but would likely be less noticeable than those predicted on Truman.

For more information about potential blue catfish management changes for Truman Reservoir and Lake Ozark, visit www.MissouriConservation.org/fish/sport/catfish/bluemanage.htm. To comment on changes, please go online www.MissouriConservation.org/contact and under “Tell us what you think” click on “online comment form.”

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