MDC to host blue catfish-management open houses

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Blue Catfish Display

Published on: Jul. 18, 2012

CAMDENTON–Anglers can bring questions and advice about blue-catfish regulations to open houses sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) next month.

The open houses will deal with possible regulation changes at Truman Reservoir and Lake of the Ozarks. Open-house dates are:

• Aug. 21 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Mid-County Fire Protection District meeting room, 184 N. Business Rt. 5, Camdenton

• Aug. 23 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the First Baptist Church Gymnasium, 209 E. Jefferson St., Clinton

• Aug. 25 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Warsaw Lincoln EMS Station, 1206 Medic Drive, Warsaw

Participants can come and go at any time with the open-house format. They can ask questions of MDC staff and express their ideas about the potential changes at the events or take comment cards and send them in later. Those who cannot attend the open houses can express their preferences at mdc.mo.gov/node/18097.

Since the early 1990s, anglers and MDC biologists have expressed concerns about the declining number of larger blue catfish being caught from Truman Reservoir. In a survey, more than a third of Truman Reservoir anglers said they thought the quality of catfishing had declined. A study at Truman Reservoir from 2004 to 2009 confirmed anglers’ concerns by showing that blue catfish 24 inches and larger were being harvested at an extremely high rate. Similar concerns have emerged more recently at Lake of the Ozarks.

Blue catfish frequently grow to 60 pounds and can exceed 100 pounds. Both Truman Reservoir and Lake of the Ozarks contain adequate to excessive numbers of smaller blue catfish. However, heavy harvest of blue catfish 24 inches and larger is not allowing them to reach the larger sizes desired by many anglers.

In response to these facts and anglers concerns, MDC developed potential regulation changes to address the problem. It presented those ideas during at stakeholder meetings in Camdenton, Clinton and Warsaw in 2010. Most public comments at that time favored implementing the potential changes. MDC modified the original proposal in response to concerns expressed by stakeholders.

Regulation changes now under consideration include:

• Increasing the daily limit from five to 10 blue catfish. This would allow anglers to take home more fish.

• Adding a protected slot-length limit for medium-size blue catfish of 24 to 32 inches (5 to 13 pounds), 25 to 33 inches (6 to 15 pounds) or 26 to 34 inches (7 to 16 pounds). This would allow medium-size blue catfish to reach larger sizes.

• Allowing the harvest of one or two blue catfish above the protected slot-length limit. This would enable anglers to harvest or catch and release larger fish.

The changes would affect blue catfish at the two lakes and their tributaries, including the no-boating zone below Truman Dam.

Open houses are one way MDC works with citizens to keep Missouri a great place to hunt and fish.

-Jim Low-

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