Fishing is fun. It’s also big business in Missouri. Nearly 1.2 million anglers fish in Missouri waters each year. About one in 10 Missourians, between the ages of 16 and 64, enjoy fishing opportunities each year. Missouri anglers fish approximately 16 million days annually and account for a substantial portion of the $11 billion-a-year business resulting from conservation-related activities.
For the Department of Conservation, maintaining and enhancing the quality of Missouri fishing accounts for the efforts of more than 160 biologists, hatchery managers and support staff. Our biologists use all of the tools at their disposal to meet the demands and needs of Missouri anglers—good habitat management, science-based regulations, public input and, where appropriate, the fish produced in Department hatcheries.
Enhancing Natural Production
For many fish species, natural reproduction is enough to support high-quality fisheries. As long as habitat is adequate, most of our native fish sustain their numbers from year to year, with some natural fluctuations. Good natural reproduction and science-based management, including appropriate regulations, provide quality fishing opportunities. Crappie and black bass fisheries in large reservoirs, and smallmouth bass and goggle-eye fisheries in streams, demonstrate this concept.
Some Missouri rainbow trout fisheries are supported solely by natural reproduction. Crane Creek in Stone County is an example. On the other hand, reproduction and recruitment is limited for some fish species. Supplemental stocking is needed to support paddlefish fisheries in locations such as Lake of the Ozarks and Table Rock Lake. Others, like the spring-fed streams at Bennett Spring, Maramec Spring, Montauk and Roaring River trout parks, receive very heavy fishing pressure and require daily stocking to maintain fishing quality.
Hatcheries are an integral part of the Department’s stream and lake management programs. They have been instrumental in establishing and maintaining many popular sport fisheries. Over a span of nearly 75 years, biologists and hatchery personnel have evaluated, cultured and stocked a variety of sport fish that include walleye, muskie, brown trout and hybrid striped bass. Stocking these fish has enhanced the diversity of fishing opportunities and made Missouri fishing a richer experience.
During 2009, Department staff stocked almost 8.5 million warm-water fish and nearly 1.6 million rainbow and brown trout at locations throughout Missouri. A variety of species of conservation concern, including various mussel species, Ozark and Eastern hellbenders and pallid sturgeon, were also raised in Department hatcheries. Hatchery production and stocking of these species are integral parts of ongoing