Miscellany

Ask The Ombudsman

Q: I recently caught several crappie from the Lake of the Ozarks. When I was cleaning them, I noticed that some had egg sacs with eggs. Do crappie spawn in the fall?

A: It is not unusual to find immature eggs in female crappie or other fish at this time of the year. Although greatly diminished in size outside of the spawning season, female fish retain their egg sacs (ovaries) that contain eggs that will mature in the future. In crappie, those eggs will be held until spawning in late March or April of next year. The mature eggs will be located near the center of the ovary, with progressively less-mature eggs toward the outside. The spawning will begin with the right combination of day length, temperature and water level in the lake.

Q: Can you tell me the real name of a tree that my family calls a “cigar tree”?

A: “Cigar tree” is one of the common names for trees in the genus Catalpa. Other common names include catalpa, catawba, Indian bean, and Indian cigar tree. As far as I can tell, the name cigar tree refers to the long, brown, seed-bearing pods that the tree produces each year. Growing up to 20 inches long and about 3/8-inch thick, they don’t much remind me of a cigar. The trees are best known as the host plants for the catalpa sphinx moth caterpillar, called the catalpa worm. The caterpillar is popular as fish bait and the trees are sometimes planted to attract catalpa worms. Catalpa trees have also been commonly planted as ornamental shade trees but are seldom used for that purpose today.

Ombudsman Tim Smith will respond to your questions, suggestions or complaints concerning Department of Conservation programs. Write him at PO Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, call him at 573-522-4115, ext. 3848, or e-mail him at Ombudsman@mdc.mo.gov.

Agent Notes

Natural resources for all to enjoy

I have been a conservation agent for 33 years. In that time, I have heard on several occasions when checking someone’s fishing or hunting permit, “I have been hunting and fishing all my life and never been checked by a conservation agent.” I always enjoy making these contacts with people who have never been checked before. It is a treat for them and for me. They are glad I am out there enforcing the fish and game laws of the Wildlife Code, and I am happy to see them enjoying Missouri’s outdoor resources. Most people have been buying permits for years and are really excited to actually show us their permit.

There are almost 6 million people living in the state of Missouri. There are 1,437,603 people who hunt and fish and buy permits regularly. There are about 175 conservation agents in the field who are working to enforce the fish and game laws. Just last month, I made contact with a young man who didn’t have a fishing permit. While I was checking him, he told me he had bought a permit last year and didn’t get checked, so he decided to take a chance this year. While you may not personally encounter a conservation agent every time you are out hunting, fishing or trapping, rest assured that public contacts and permit checks are being made every day. Also, the purchase of permits helps generate federal funding for conservation projects in Missouri.

Conservation agents enjoy visiting with people about conservation. The majority of people hunt and fish legally and they have a positive experience when checked by an agent. Don’t get upset if you are contacted by an agent who asks to see your hunting or fishing permit and any wildlife you possess. We are just hard-working men and women who want to ensure there will be plenty of fish, forest and wildlife resources for future generations to enjoy.

Michael Terhune is the conservation agent for Cedar County. If you would like to contact the agent for your county, phone your regional Conservation office listed on Page 3.