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Biotic Community

Fish Community Data

Aquatic sampling in the Sac River has been ongoing since before the initial elements occurrence record (EOR) was written in 1982. For example, Pflieger collected fish samples in 1971. Table Bc01  lists all species of fish collected in the Sac River basin and is further divided by sub-basin. Collections of fish were also made by the Missouri Department of Conservation's Southwest Regional staff during 1995, 1996, 1998, and 1999. Figure Bc01  lists fish sampling sites in the Sac River basin. Appendix C has collections by site and date for the Sac River basin.

Eighty-nine species of fish have been identified from the Sac River basin. Of these, the chestnut and southern brook lampreys have not been collected in recent sampling efforts. Lampreys are often difficult to collect and have short adult life spans. Other fishes also absent in recent collections include: longnose gar, mooneye, gravel chub, spotted sucker, river redhorse, and Ozark bass. These larger fishes commonly avoid seine hauls or are located in habitats too deep or too brushy to seine. Seining was the primary method used in recent samples, and could be the reason for their absence. The suckermouth minnow has not been collected since 1976; it is abundant in the Prairie Faunal region of north and west Missouri and is not tolerant of higher gradient Ozark streams. The ghost shiner has never had a wide occurrence in the Sac River basin and has not been collected since 1964. It occurs in the Missouri and Mississippi rivers and in prairie streams, but populations have been on the decline in recent years. The Ozark cavefish has never been collected in the Sac River basin, but has been observed in caves within the basin boundaries. Ozark cavefish are not usually captured unless sought in caves, or near spring openings flowing from subterranean sources during high flow or pollution related events.

It is possible that some species are being lost from the watershed. The Niangua darter, a federally threatened species, has been found in the Little Sac River, Bear Creek, and Brush Creek watersheds. Within these three streams, the Niagua darter was last sampled in 1991 from Bear Creek. Since 1991, Niangua darters have been observed during snorkeling surveys at three different locations within one reach of Bear Creek. The Brush Creek population of Niangua darters was believed to be extirpated before sampling efforts were increased beginning in 1997. During 1997, a total of 18 Niangua darters, including six young of the year fish, were observed in Brush Creek (Boyer 1998). These findings suggest that the Brush Creek Niangua darter population is both viable and reproducing. According to Pflieger (1997), reservoir construction has been a significant factor leading to the decline of the Niangua darter.

Bluestripe and gilt darters are two other rare fishes that have been collected in the Sac River basin. The bluestripe darter may have had widespread occurrence in the Sac River system before the turn of the century. Within this basin, it has only been collected from the Sac River and has not been seen since 1966. The gilt darter has a wide occurrence in the eastern and southern Ozarks and is frequently one of the most abundant darters in its preferred habitat (Pflieger 1997). However, it has only been collected in one sample from the Sac River in 1966. The least darter has a wide occurrence in the northern and western Ozarks and is frequently the most abundant darter in its preferred habitat. However, the least darter has only been collected in one sample from the Little Sac River in 1977. The blacknose shiner has been sampled in Brush Creek and Cedar Creek, but has not been collected there since 1977. Once having a wide distribution, the blacknose shiner has been extirpated from many streams in the northern Ozarks. Population declines are thought to be the result of habitat loss (Pflieger 1997).

Amphibians and Reptiles

There is a diverse assemblage of amphibians and reptiles found in the Sac River basin. Table Bc02  lists the amphibians and Table Bc03  lists the reptiles. These tables also include the known range for each species in the basin.

Threatened and Endangered Species

The Sac River basin has a unique and diverse biotic community. There are forty-two species of plants and animals of conservation concern. Three federally endangered (Missouri bladder-pod, gray bat, and pink mucket) and five federally threatened species (bald eagle, Ozark cavefish, Niangua darter, Mead's milkweed, and geocarpon) are known to occur in the watershed (Table Bc04). Several other species in the basin are rare in Missouri.

Fish Stocking

With the exception of private impoundments, recorded fish stocking in the Sac River basin has been restricted to Stockton Lake and Fellows Lake. Hybrid striped bass stocked in Truman Lake can also be found in the Sac River below Stockton Dam. Table Bc05 lists the fish that have been stocked in public waters of the Sac River basin. Private ponds are regularly stocked by their owners with a variety of sportfishes. The most common private pond sportfish populations are a mix of largemouth bass, bluegill, and channel catfish.

Aquatic Invertebrates

Extensive monitoring of aquatic macroinvertebrates by the MDNR has been conducted in the Brush Creek sub-basin. Streams that have had aquatic invertebrate surveys conducted on them are Little Sac River, Turnback Creek, Clear Creek, Bear Creek, and Brush Creek. Table Bc06 lists the crayfish whose range includes the Sac River basin in Missouri. Table Bc07 summarizes aquatic macroinvertebrate collections by stream. Additional macroinvertebrate samples are being collected from Brush Creek and summarized by staff and students from the University of Missouri-Columbia as a part of the Brush Creek EARTH project. These data are not included here.

Live mussels were observed in the lower Sac River, Bear Creek, Cedar Creek, and Horse Creek in 1999 with a number of relic shells collected from these locations for identification. These collections can be found in Tables Bc08 and Bc09. These collections confirmed that several mussels in the Sac River watershed are present in the tributaries as well as the mainstream Sac River. Figure Bc02 shows the invertebrate sampling sites in the Sac River basin.

Angler Survey

There has been a creel survey conducted on Stockton Lake from 1971 through 2000 with the exception of the years 1993 through 1995. The two sportfish most commonly pursued by anglers have been crappie (black and white) and black bass (largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted). In the early years of impoundment crappie were the most fished for by anglers with black bass second in popularity. During the decade of the 1990s the trend has been increased pursuit of bass and a decrease in the pressure on crappie to the point that black bass have become the most sought after species of sportfish. Other fish sought by anglers in order of preference are walleye, white bass, catfish, and sunfish. More detailed analyses of these data are included in reports available from MDC's Southwest Fisheries Regional Office in Springfield.

Fishing Regulations

The Sac River basin streams are managed under Missouri's statewide regulations. Regulations for Stockton Lake are different than the stream regulations. Restrictions and rules can and do change, so it is best to consult the latest fishing regulations before fishing.

Table Bc01: Fish species collected in the Sac River watershed listed by sub-basin

Fish species collected in the Sac River watershed listed by sub-basin.

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Figure Bc01: Fish sampling sites in the Sac River basin

Map of fish sampling sites in the Sac River basin.

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Table Bc02: Amphibians found in the Sac River basin

Amphibians found in the Sac River basin.

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Table Bc03: Reptiles found in the Sac River basin

Reptiles found in the Sac River basin.

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Table Bc04: Species of conservation concern in the Sac River basin

Species of conservation concern in the Sac River basin.

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Table Bc05: Sac River basin fish stocking history

Sac River basin fish stocking history.

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Table Bc06: Crayfish whose range includes the Sac River basin in Missouri

Crayfish whose range includes the Sac River basin in Missouri.

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Table Bc07: Macroinvertebrate information from streams in the Sac River basin

Macroinvertebrate information from streams in the Sac River basin.

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Table Bc08: Mussels found in the Sac River basin

Mussels found in the Sac River basin.

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Table Bc09: Mussels identified from shells collected in the Sac River basin

Mussels identified from shells collected in the Sac River basin.

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Figure Bc02: Invertebrate sampling sites in the Sac River basin

Map of invertebrate sampling sites in the Sac River basin.

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