Fish Community Data
Limited sampling of the lower Crooked River mainstem was done in 1941. The area was altered by channelization in the early 1970's, and the fish assemblage has probably changed since 1941 due to these modifications. The middle portion of the Crooked River basin and the tributaries in the eastern part of the basin have been minimally sampled. Most efforts appear to have been concentrated in the Rocky Fork, upper reaches of the East Fork Crooked River, West Fork Crooked River and mainstem Crooked River. Some new areas that were sampled for the first time in 1998 were Brushy Creek, Fire Branch, Cottonwood Branch, West Fork Crooked River below Richmond, and Unnamed Tributary # 5. Twenty-one sites scattered throughout the Crooked River basin were scheduled for sampling during 1998 (Figure Bc01). Five sites on the mainstem Crooked River were inadequately sampled or not sampled for various reasons. Hazardous weather (RAH98-7) and difficult sampling conditions (steep slick mud banks and deep water; RAH98-1, RAH98-5) reduced sampling efforts at three sites. Two other sites were dropped, one due to steep mud banks and deep water (RAH98-6) and the creek bed was dry at the other site (RAH 98-15).
There were 39 species of fish collected in the Crooked River basin in 1998 (Table Bc01). Fish species captured for the first time in the basin in 1998 were paddlefish, goldfish, grass carp, bighead carp, silver chub, bigmouth buffalo, western mosquitofish, white bass and freshwater drum. Fish captured in 1995 and 1998 but not previously included: Golden shiner, black crappie and logperch. All of the fish collected for the first time in 1998 were captured in the lower Crooked River near or in the Missouri River floodplain. The grass carp and bighead carp are introduced species that have become established since 1941 when this area was last sampled.
Western mosquitofish have probably arrived by natural range expansion and/or inadvertent introduction. Goldfish have probably been introduced by bait bucket releases of anglers. The paddlefish, bigmouth buffalo, white bass and freshwater drum were likely present but not sampled in 1941 because seining was the only collection gear used. These species were collected using a boat mounted electrofisher in 1998. Silver chubs were historically found in large prairie streams and the Missouri River in Northwest Missouri. The single specimen captured in 1998 in the lower Crooked River may have been a migrant from the Missouri River as it is regularly found there. The three species of fish captured since 1995, golden shiner, logperch and black crappie, were found over a large area of the basin including headwater areas. The logperch were captured primarily in the middle section of the Crooked River basin. They may have been present in the Crooked River basin for quite some time, but lack of sampling in the middle section of the basin may have been the reason they have only recently been captured. Golden shiner has probably been introduced through bait bucket releases of anglers. Black crappie probably have been introduced via farm pond stocking or lake overflows. Species that were widespread and commonly encountered in the basin included central stoneroller, red shiner, common shiner, sand shiner, creek chub, black bullhead, green sunfish and bluegill. A list of species collected by site is found in Figure Bc02.
The only species collected previously in the Crooked River basin that was not collected in 1998 was the Topeka shiner. This species was collected in the upper Crooked River in 1965 but was not captured in intensive collecting in headwater areas in 1995 (including the historic collection site, Gelwicks and Bruenderman 1996) or 1998. Apparently, the Topeka shiner has disappeared from the Crooked River basin. Creel survey records for the Crooked River basin include rock bass, smallmouth bass, and flathead catfish. None of these species were collected in recent sampling, although flathead catfish undoubtedly occur in the basin. There are no other records for smallmouth bass and rock bass in the Crooked River basin. These fish may have been identified incorrectly by untrained creel personnel.
Steve Eder (MDC) collected aquatic invertebrate information on the mainstem Crooked River in September 1987. There were 2,227 invertebrates collected representing 13 different orders. Detailed information is presented in Appendix F. Sampling of adult dragonflies in the Crooked River basin in Missouri was conducted in July and September, 1997 by Linden Trial (MDC, personal communication). These results are also found in Table Bc02.
Four crayfish have ranges that include part or all of the Crooked River basin (Table Bc03). Very little collecting has been conducted to confirm or document their occurrence in the basin. The devil crayfish spend most of their lives underground and are difficult to collect and document. The grassland crayfish is also a burrowing crayfish that can be difficult to collect (Pflieger 1996). The only species of crayfish collected in 1998 were northern crayfish (Table Bc03).
There are several mussels whose range includes the Crooked River watershed, but very little sampling has been conducted to determine their presence. Mussels in general are declining in Missouri primarily due to habitat loss. Weathered shells from the Crooked River were collected in July and September 1997 by Linden Trial (Table Bc04). The collection is the only documented record of mussels in the Crooked River system that could be found. Several weathered shells were collected during sampling in May and June of 1998.
Amphibians and Reptiles
Table Bc05 lists the amphibians found in the Crooked River basin. Three species, the plains spadefoot, great plains toad and great plains narrowmouth toad, are restricted to the area of the Missouri River floodplain. Due to their secretive nature and life history habits, these three species are difficult to study and document through collection. Table Bc06 lists the reptiles found in the Crooked River basin.
Threatened and Endangered Species
The Topeka shiner was last collected in the Crooked River basin in 1965. An intensive effort to collect Topeka shiners was carried out in the basin in 1995 (Gelwicks and Bruenderman 1996). None were collected in sampling in 1995 or 1998. It appears that the Topeka shiner has been extirpated from the Crooked River basin. A remnant population of greater prairie-chickens was found by Ray County senior conservation agent George Hiser in 1990 and confirmed with follow up observations by other MDC personnel. A rare plant, auriculate false foxglove, is found on the Foxglove CA.
Rare or unusual species reported from the Crooked River basin include scorpions, Bell’s vireo, armadillos and badgers. Pheasants, an introduced game bird, are observed occasionally in the Crooked River basin (G. Hiser, MDC Conservation Agent, pers. comm.). (Table Bc07).
Fish stocking has been carried out in the Crooked River basin by the MDC and private individuals. The basin’s public lakes are stocked and managed by the MDC. A complete list of fish stocked in state-managed waters can be found in Table Bc08. The MDC offers a stocking program for private impoundments that meet the eligibility requirements. The MDC supplies largemouth bass, bluegill and channel catfish to eligible impoundment owners for initial stocking.
Private impoundments are often supplementally stocked by their owners with fish purchased from commercial fish producers. Black and white crappie (probably native to the basin) have been stocked in private impoundments and appear throughout the basin. Grass carp have been stocked in private impoundments throughout the basin to control aquatic vegetation, and escapement has occurred. Immigration from the Missouri River may be occurring as natural reproduction has been documented in the lower Missouri River (Brown and Coon 1994). Common carp are also an introduced species that are present in the basin and provide angling opportunity. Bighead carp, another introduced species, was captured during basin sampling in 1998 and are probably immigrating from the Missouri River where they have become established.
A statewide creel survey by Funk (1968) indicated common carp, bullheads, and channel catfish were the most frequently harvested fish in the Crooked River basin. Other fish in the Crooked River, creeled by anglers, included bluegill, crappie, green sunfish, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, rock bass, and flathead catfish. Some of these records (smallmouth bass and rock bass in particular) may be erroneous as information was collected by personnel with minimal training in fish identification.
Statewide creel and fish size limits apply to the streams and rivers in the Crooked River basin. Special size restictions, creel limits or other regulations apply to public impoundments in the basin.