Catfish Management In Missouri

Mark Twain Lake Blue Catfish and Flathead Catfish Assessment

The Missouri Department of Conservation recently completed a multiyear assessment of blue catfish and flathead catfish in Mark Twain Lake. MDC wants to hear your preferences about catfish fishing at Mark Twain and your opinions on potential new harvest regulations intended to improve the quality of this fishery.

Please view this presentation by MDC fisheries biologists, then complete this Mark Twain Lake Blue Catfish Study Survey. The survey and comments period ends on August 1st.

Mark Twain Lake Blue Catfish Study Survey

For more information contact MDC Public Involvement Coordinator Michele Baumer at, or 573-751-4115, EXT 3350.

Mark Twain Lake Catfish Assessment

Catfish were assessed during 2012–2018

We had three primary objectives:

  • Determine population demographics
  • Determine exploitation by anglers
  • Determine if new harvest regulations may improve the quality of the population (i.e., more and larger fish)

Study Details

  • Jugs baited with cut bait were used to capture catfish
  • Too few flathead catfish were captured to complete a good assessment
  • 16,955 jug nights 2014–2016
  • 1,396 blue catfish at least 15 inches long were tagged
  • Ages were determined for 698 blue catfish
  • It takes blue catfish in Mark Twain Lake about 8 years to reach 24 inches and 12 years to reach 30 inches
  • 297 tags were returned
  • 8–12% of blue catfish at least 15 inches long are harvested each year (exploitation)
  • About 15% die naturally each year

Expected Response To A Minimum Length Limit

Variable 20-inch MLL 24-inch MLL 26-inch MLL 30-inch MLL
Yield (kg) 4% to 13% 0% to 13% -6% to 18% -25% to 7%
Harvested (N) -24% to -21% -48% to -38% -57% to -54% -63% to -74%
Number at least 35 inches long 18% to 29% 40% to 66% 55% to 93% 208% to 294%

Study Findings

  • Few flathead catfish were captured, suggesting their abundance is low.
  • Blue catfish are moderately abundant, but study results indicate that this fishery could be improved by implementing a minimum length limit.

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