of the state.
Partners in Habitat Improvement
Public input and involvement are both essential for improving the state’s fisheries. MDC works with anglers, communities and fishing groups as the Department develops management plans for each unique sport fish. Citizen input has been instrumental in many management plans to allow fish populations to be maintained naturally and to allow anglers to catch more and bigger fish.
MDC works with many groups to sustain healthy fisheries throughout the state. “Good fishing requires good water quality, and that depends on conserving the land around it,” says Andrew Branson, a fisheries programs specialist for the Department. “Preventing erosion and conserving habitat along streams is also good for the streams themselves. Many groups working together for conservation can make that happen.”
Some of MDC’s partners include private landowners, the Conservation Federation of Missouri, Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, National Park Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Many cities, towns and corporations also partner with MDC to improve fishing and fishing access through MDC’s Community Assistance Program and the closely related Corporate and Agency Partnership Program.
The Department is also working with Bass Pro Shops and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to improve fish habitat in Table Rock Lake and Lake Taneycomo through the National Fish Habitat Initiative. This partnership has improved habitat by adding brush piles, stumps and rock structures to the reservoirs using a specially made pontoon barge (see Missouri Conservationist, November 2011). The initiative will also improve water quality by reducing inputs from failing septic systems and stabilizing stream banks in the Table Rock Lake watershed. Similar efforts are ongoing in other parts of the state through the National Fish Habitat Partnership.
The efforts of many volunteer groups continue to benefit the waterways of the state, including Stream Teams, angling groups, such as Missouri Smallmouth Alliance and Muskies, Inc., and local nonprofits, such as the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks and the James River Basin Partnership. Last year, more than 4,000 Stream Teams donated 146,000 hours in stream improvement projects.
Fishing Regulations and Sport-fish Management
Monitoring fish populations and subsequently adjusting limits and seasons are important aspects of sport-fish management. For example, groundbreaking research conducted by MDC in the 1980s found that crappie populations in many of Missouri’s large reservoirs were being overfished. Higher quality