MDC sets new Truman Lake spotted bass regulation

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Warsaw, Mo. – Anglers at Truman Lake will have increased chances to keep spotted bass as part of their creel limit. Beginning March 1, a new regulation will reduce the length limit on spotted bass caught at Truman Lake from 15 inches to 12 inches. Bass population studies by Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) biologists have shown that spotted bass grow slower than largemouth bass, and many adult spotted bass never reach 15 inches, said Mike Bayless, MDC fisheries management biologist.

During the last five years, population studies found that only 5 percent of spotted bass measured at Truman Lake are 15 inches or longer. However, 50 percent of them were 12 inches long or more. Anglers at Truman Lake will now be able to keep spotted bass that are 12 inches or longer. The minimum length limit for anglers to keep largemouth bass remains at 15 inches.

"A largemouth bass may reach 15 inches in three or four years," Bayless said, "while a spotted bass may never reach 15 inches in the lake."

Anglers will need to clearly identify the bass species. Spotted bass and largemouth bass look similar. A key distinguishing characteristic is that on largemouth bass, the mouth will extend beyond the back of the eye. On spotted bass, the mouth will only extend to the middle of the eye. Also, the spotted bass will have a rough patch on the tongue, while the largemouth will not.

Spotted bass, sometimes called Kentucky bass, are native to the upper Osage River system. They were found in the slower, warm-water streams. The Osage River was impounded to form Truman Lake.

About 33 percent of the bass sampled in studies by biologists at Truman Lake are spotted bass, Bayless said. The shorter length limit for spotted bass will allow anglers to utilize more fish. Also, the change will provide the same length limit for spotted bass for both Truman Lake and the downstream Lake of the Ozarks.

Largemouth and spotted bass both can utilize similar habitats. Both feed on smaller fish, crayfish and insects. Spotted bass though tend to be more commonly found near the steeper, rocky bluffs, Bayless said.

The daily limit for largemouth and spotted bass at Truman Lake is six fish combined.

Fish sampling showed 2015 was a good spawning year for both bass species. Bass fishing at Truman Lake should be on the upswing. For 2016 fishing prospects at Truman Lake for all sport fish species, visit

MDC has also made fishery improvements at the lake such as sinking brush piles for fish habitat. MDC's free Find MO Fish app provides GPS locations for brush piles, and the app also can help anglers check fishing regulations for waters throughout the state. Visit

Missouri is a great place to fish. For information about the state's outdoors, visit