and more consistent crappie fishing resulted by setting minimum length limits and reducing the daily limit from 30 to 15 in appropriate lakes. MDC improved bass fishing by creating stream black bass special management areas. Beginning in 1989, MDC fishery managers and researchers began to evaluate the impacts of special fishing regulations on stream black bass. Surveys showed that special regulations helped anglers catch more and larger smallmouth bass in selected waters.
Today, these stream black bass special management areas total 2,091 miles of water. To determine bass harvests, MDC conducted a statewide smallmouth bass angler opinion survey, performed smallmouth bass radio telemetry movement studies, and studied angler harvest rates on five streams. The results will be used to better understand and manage Missouri’s smallmouth bass.
Since the 1990s, MDC has also enhanced and diversified walleye-angling opportunities across the state. Hatcheries increased production of fingerling walleye, and stocking expanded. Reward-tagging studies show these stockings were successful and that walleye are growing to harvestable size (15 inches) in two years. Every year, up to 25 percent of these tagged, legal-size fish are harvested, reflecting the rising popularity of walleye fishing.
In 2010, MDC held a series of public meetings to gather input as part of a blue catfish management and evaluation project for Truman Lake and Lake Ozark. Fisheries staff continue to monitor the status of blue catfish populations in Missouri’s big reservoirs to ensure that these large fish are abundant for future generations to enjoy.
On the Missouri River, the Department stopped commercial harvest of catfish in 1992. Since then, sport anglers have taken many catfish in the 80- to 100-pound range. Our stretch of Missouri River is now among the nation’s top trophy catfish waters.
“Having two state-record catfish caught in 2010 proves the wisdom of past management decisions,” says Vitello. “The Missouri River is one of several fisheries in the state with the potential to produce huge catfish. Given a chance to grow, blue and flathead cats can reach sizes that make even the most experienced angler’s heart race.”
Fishing also should continue to get better on the Missouri and Mississippi rivers as state and federal agencies work together to minimize habitat loss and to improve fisheries habitat. MDC biologists have completed population evaluations on flathead catfish and sauger to help determine appropriate harvest regulations for improving these important big-river fisheries.
Also known as the “fish of 10,000