MDC seeking public input on changes for smallmouth and rock bass

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VAN BUREN, Mo. – Smallmouth bass and rock bass -- also called goggle eye -- are very popular with anglers on Missouri's Ozark streams. However, research by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) shows that both species grow slowly and that many do not reach a quality size before dying from natural causes or being caught by anglers.

As a result, many anglers surveyed by MDC have reported that fishing quality for rock bass has declined over the past decade. Many anglers also have responded that the minimum-length limits and daily limits for smallmouth on rivers and creeks varies and can be complicated.

According to MDC fishing regulations, there is no existing statewide minimum length limit for rock bass, but some rivers and creeks in MDC Special Management Areas have an eight-inch minimum. Smallmouth bass have a statewide minimum length limit of 12 inches with a six-fish daily limit, while MDC Special Management Areas have a minimum length limit of 15 or 18 inches with a daily limit of one or two fish.

As a result of research and angler feedback, the Conservation Department is proposing changes to fishing regulations for these two popular game fish that would help grow smallmouth and rock bass while simplifying regulations for smallmouth in MDC Special Management Areas.

For rock bass, MDC research shows that a majority of anglers favor a single, statewide minimum length limit. MDC is proposing setting it at seven inches.

For smallmouth bass, the proposed changes would maintain the current statewide length limit of 12-inches with a daily limit of six fish, but change all Special Management Areas to a 15-inch minimum length limit with a daily limit of one smallmouth bass.

Proposed regulations would also create a new Special Management Area on the Current River and expand the Special Management Areas on the Big Piney, Big River, Jacks Fork, and Meramec rivers.

MDC is seeking public input on these potential regulations changes and will host a series of open houses around the state to provide more information, answer questions, and get public comments. The Department invites anglers and others to stop by the Van Buren open house between 6 and 8 p.m., Sept. 29 at The River Centre at The Landing, 110 E. Carter St.

MDC is also accepting public comments online at or through U.S. mail to: Missouri Department of Conservation, Attn: Policy Coordination, PO Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102.