Tracking River Smallmouth

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Published on: Apr. 15, 2013

year’s hatch depends solely on water conditions — in particular, a sudden cold snap or muddy floodwaters can kill eggs and fry.

  • Tail Fin I.D.: The tail fin on young smallmouth is distinctly tri-colored with a black vertical bar separating the yellowish fin base from the whitish fringe along the rear margin of the fins.
  • Follow the Feeder: An interesting habit of smallmouth bass is to follow a large turtle or sucker as they dig or root along the bottom, pouncing on any insects or crayfish disturbed by the feeding activity.
  • 18-Year-Old Fish: Smallmouth bass have a maximum life expectancy of about 18 years; however, only a few ever live even half that long.
  • Old Fish: It can take 8–10 years for a smallmouth to reach 18 inches long in Ozark streams.
  • For the Record: The current Missouri state record is 7 pounds, 2 ounces, caught in 1994 from Stockton Lake.
  • Ozark Smallmouth Bass Fishing Map

    For a free map guide of smallmouth bass stream fishing, angling information, and regulations for Missouri, email our publications staff at, or mail your request to Publications, Missouri Department of Conservation, PO Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180.

    Find MO Fish App

    This free phone app shows you a map of Missouri with the locations of public boat ramps to the major lakes, rivers, and streams of Missouri. The map also shows you the exact location of underwater fish structures the Missouri Department of Conservation has established over the years. These fish-attracting structures act as habitat for fish. With the geo-location feature, you can guide your boat right up to your favorite fish attractor and start fishing. Try it now and get hooked on fishing in Missouri. Visit for links or visit your Android, Blackberry, or iTunes store to download.

    Buy Permits Online!

    See our list of available fishing permits and buy yours online at mdc. Fishing permits, unless noted otherwise on the permit itself, are valid from the date of purchase through the last day of February. Permits may be printed and used immediately.

    Smallmouth Bass Study Findings

    • The majority of smallmouth bass were harvested early in the season.
    • Wade/bank fishing is the most popular method, followed by float fishing, and then powerboat fishing.
    • 82 percent of anglers who responded fish for smallmouth bass.
    • High water and warming water temperatures triggered smallmouth bass movement in the Current River.
    • The fish preferred deeper waters of 5 feet or more.
    • Open water, logs, and boulders are used at different times of the day and year.
    • The species left Big Spring when river and spring temperatures were similar.

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