MDC announces changes to catfish regulations on Mark Twain Lake

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FLORIDA, Mo. - The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) will enforce a 26-inch minimum length limit on harvest of blue catfish and flathead catfish on Mark Twain Lake, beginning Feb. 28. Blue catfish and flathead catfish measuring less than 26 inches in length must be returned to the water unharmed immediately after being caught. The regulation will apply to all fishing methods on Mark Twain Lake and will not apply to channel catfish.

MDC staff studied populations of blue catfish and flathead catfish in Mark Twain Lake from 2012 through 2018. Research findings indicate that the minimum length limit could improve catfish numbers in Mark Twain Lake by increasing the abundance of larger catfish, with minimal or no reductions in yield, or pounds harvested by anglers.

MDC gathered public input online and through mailed surveys. Most of the anglers surveyed supported a minimum length limit. Based on the research findings and public input presented to the Missouri Conservation Commission, the Commission approved the new regulation at its Dec. 10 meeting.   MDC biologists indicate that the new regulation balances angler desires to keep catfish to eat, and to have a better opportunity to catch large fish.

Learn more about Missouri catfish and related regulations online at

Learn more about Mark Twain Lake, managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at