Paddlefish Snagging Report and Advisories

Report for April 16, 2014

Below is the paddlefish snagging report for Truman Lake, Lake of the Ozarks, and the Osage River (below Bagnell Dam). The water temperatures are slowly increasing, yet flows remain low. As we get later in the season the fish want to move and we will see some of them moving. Keep in mind that it is the increase in flow that triggers the fish to move. Snagging is good on Truman Lake and continues to be slow on Lake of the Ozarks. Snaggers continue to harvest mostly small fish (34–38 inches) — we are seeing a few more of the larger fish (60-90 pounds). Snaggers continue to catch a lot of small (30–34 inch) sublegal fish. Please get these fish back to the water unharmed immediately! We need more rain to increase flows to get the fish moving. Continue to think warm spring rains!

If you have any questions call 660-530-5500 or email Trish.Yasger@mdc.mo.gov.

Snagging success depends on the weather

Snagging is very dependent on weather conditions, primarily water temperature and flow. When water temperatures reach 50–55F and flow increases, paddlefish migrate upstream to spawn. Early in the season harvest is primarily made up of local fish and smaller males and immature females. As water temperature and flow increase, the fish will move upstream in the reservoir or river. Males make spawning migrations before females, with more females showing up when water temperatures are 55F and greater. The weather just isn’t cooperating this year!

If we get a dry spring and don’t get much rain, snagging may not be as good as it has been in the past, and the fish will tend to remain lower in the reservoirs or rivers. On the other hand, if we have a very wet spring, fish will move up higher in the reservoirs or rivers. In some areas snagging may be very difficult, if not hazardous, especially if flooding occurs. When lakes and rivers are rising due to heavy rain, logs and other debris can be coming downstream, and boaters need to be careful.

Water temperatures are slowly increasing. Surface water temperatures are in the lower-to-upper 50s at the surface. We have not gotten much rain so flows remain low. The extended weather forecasts are calling for warm weather during the days with some chances of rain, this should help. Truman Lake is down slightly and Lake of the Ozarks is up slightly from last week. They are releasing a little water from both Truman and Bagnell dams. Even though flows have increased slightly on Truman, flows are still considered low. As we get later in the season the fish want to move and we will see some of them moving. Keep in mind that it is the increase in flow that triggers the fish to move. We are seeing a few more of the large females being harvested. Snagging is good on Truman Lake and continues to be slow on Lake of the Ozarks. We need more rain to increase flows to really get the fish moving. Continue to think warm spring rains! Remember, as water temperatures and flow increase, snagging should improve even more!

Keep snagging strong — release sublegal fish unharmed immediately

MDC maintains the paddlefish populations in Truman Lake, Lake of the Ozarks, and Table Rock Lake with annual stockings of fingerlings that are raised at MDC’s Blind Pony Hatchery. It takes paddlefish seven to eight years to grow to legal size. In 2008, we had our largest stocking of paddlefish ever — more than 260,000 fish. These fish are now six years old, and they should average 31 to 33 inches (measured eye to fork of tail). These fish should start contributing to the harvest next year. Snaggers will continue to catch a lot of these sublegal fish this year. It is important to release these fish unharmed immediately and gently because they are the fish that you will be harvesting over the next several years!

Dial 1-800-392-1111 anytime to report illegal activity

In 2013, conservation agents broke up an international paddlefish-trafficking operation in Warsaw. This group of poachers stole a lot of fish from legal snaggers. We aren’t sure what effect that this illegal activity has had on Missouri's paddlefish population. If you see or suspect illegal snagging activity, please report it immediately. Your identity will remain anonymous, and a reward is possible depending on successful prosecution of the case. Visit our Operation Game Thief page below for more details.

Snagging places and prospects

Truman Lake

  • Please remember the 34-inch-length limit (eye to fork of tail), AND after you have snagged your second paddlefish, you are done snagging for the day on Truman Lake and its tributaries.
  • Truman is down slightly from last week. We got some rain this past weekend, the Osage is up slightly. Flows have increased slightly as well, yet it is not what we would consider a lot of flow. Water levels and flows are dropping. The water is muddy and there is some debris in places, so be careful and watch for logs and debris. They are releasing some water at Truman Dam. Water temperatures are in the upper 50s at the surface.
  • Snagging is good, about the same as last week. The rains and increase in flow over the last week, has got some of the fish moving. They harvested several fish between Osceola and Taberville this past weekend; however, water levels in this area starting to drop.
  • Snaggers are harvesting primarily small males and immature females (34–38 inch fish). We are seeing more of the larger 65-plus pound females harvested. We have seen a few limits. Snaggers continue to catch lots of sublegal fish (fish less than 34 inches), please be sure to release these fish unharmed immediately. We need the water to continue warming up and more flows to really get the fish moving. The fish are scattered out from Talley Bend to just above Taberville. Most of the harvest has been between Roscoe and Taberville.
  • Best guess: The fish are scattered out and we are seeing fish harvested from Talley Bend to above Taberville. With increasing water temperatures and increased flow the fish are starting to move and you will want to try the deep holes from Osceola to Taberville and above.
Public ramps to launch — from down to upstream
  • Talley Bend Access: go upstream towards Horseshoe Bend and up to the Walker Hole/ Weaubleau Creek and above towards Osceola.
  • Brush Creek Access: go downstream towards Walker Hole/ Weaubleau Creek and below OR upstream towards Osceola and above.
  • Crowes Crossing: to downstream towards Walker Hole/ Weaubleau Creek and below OR upstream towards Roscoe and/or go up the Sac River a couple of miles.
  • City of Osceola: go upstream towards Roscoe and/or go up the Sac River a couple of miles OR go downstream towards Brush Creek Access and down to Walker Hole/ Weaubleau Creek.
  • Sac River Access/Highway 82: go down stream towards the Osage, snagging the last couple of miles of the Sac, then continue on toward Osceola and below OR go up towards the Roscoe Access and above.
  • Roscoe: go downstream to where the Sac and Osage meet, then go up the Sac River a couple of miles or continue downstream towards Osceola OR go upstream towards Taberville and above.
  • Taberville: go downstream towards Roscoe and below OR go upstream towards the cut and above.
  • Caution: When the lake level is normal pool (706' msl), some people, especially the snaggers with deeper, V-bottom boats and pontoons, find it difficult to get out of the cove at Brush Creek Access. With the low water boats are NOT able to launch at City of Osceola Ramp. Be sure to always use caution.

Lake of the Ozarks

  • Please remember the 34-inch length limit (eye to fork of tail), AND after you have snagged your second paddlefish, you are done snagging for the day on Lake Ozark and its tributaries. Also, snagging is not permitted from the no-fishing zone below Truman Dam to the Highway 65 bridge.
  • Lake of the Ozarks is up slightly from last week. They are releasing some water from both Truman and Bagnell dams. There is a little flow, yet it is not what we would consider a lot of flow. Water temperatures are in the lower-to-mid 50s at the surface.
  • Snagging continues to be slow. We are seeing some of the fish moving. Snaggers are harvesting primarily small males and immature females (34–38 inch fish). We are seeing a few more of the larger 65-plus pound females harvested. Snaggers continue to catch lots of sublegal fish (fish less than 34 inches), please be sure to release these fish unharmed immediately. We need the water to continue warming up and more flows to get the fish moving. The fish are scattered out from MM50 up to the Highway 65 bridge (about MM89.5). There are no real concentrations of fish. However, snagging seemed better below MM84 and most of the harvest was below MM65. Snaggers are also harvesting a few fish on the Niangua Arm.
  • Best guess: The fish are scattered out and we are seeing fish harvested all the way up to the Highway 65 bridge. Try the deep holes below MM84. As the season gets later, the fish want to move. So as water temperatures and flow increase you may want to consider moving up higher towards Truman Dam.
Public ramps to launch — from down to upstream
  • Browns Bend (around MM61.5): I've been told when the water is low, it can be difficult to get from the ramp to the lake since the cove is somewhat shallow this isn't a very large ramp, so not a lot of parking spaces. Go upstream between MM61 and MM65 and above OR downstream towards MM50.
  • Wigwam School Access (MM66.2): go downstream towards MM62 and below OR upstream towards MM72 — Big Buffalo Creek.
  • Warsaw (Drake) Harbor Access: you must go below the Highway 65 bridge before you start snagging. Go downstream and start snagging below the Highway 65 bridge (about MM89.5) and down.
  • Bledsoe Ferry Access: you must go below the Highway 65 bridge before you can start snagging. Go downstream and start snagging below the Highway 65 bridge (about MM89.5) and down.
  • Larry Gale Access — Niangua Arm: go downstream to where the Little Niangua joins the big Niangua or upstream toward Highway 54.

There are numerous private ramps that you can pay to launch from.

Osage River

  • Please remember the no-snagging zone from Bagnell Dam to U.S. Highway 54 bridge. On the Osage River below Bagnell Dam, the minimum length limit remains 24 inches (eye to fork of tail), AND after you have snagged your second paddlefish, you are done snagging for the day.
  • On the Upper Osage River below Bagnell Dam, a snag fishery exists for a few miles below the Highway 54 bridge to RM78.
  • The water is warming up and the flows and water levels have been fluctuating as water releases at Bagnell Dam vary. We have seen a few snaggers yet haven’t seen or heard of any fish being harvested.
Public ramps to launch
  • Bagnell Dam Access: you must go below the Highway 54 bridge before you can start snagging.
  • On the Lower Osage River below Bagnell Dam, snagging is primarily done from a couple of miles above Pikes Camp all the way down to the Missouri River in the lower 25 miles. We also see snaggers out in the Missouri River.
  • The water is warming up. Water levels and flows are low. We have seen very few snaggers on the lower Osage and haven’t seen or heard of any fish being harvested. Until the flows increase snagging will remain slow. We are continuing to see a few fish harvested from the Missouri River above and below the Osage River. The Missouri River has been up, so be careful and watch for logs and debris.
Public ramps to launch — from down to upstream
  • Bonnots Mill Access: go up or downstream. Occasionally we see snaggers out in the Missouri River.
  • Mari-Osa Access: go downstream below the Highway 63 bridge towards Bonnots Mill and below, OR upstream towards the lock and dam.
  • Pikes Camp Access: go upstream a couple of miles, OR downstream towards the lock and dam.

Advisories

Check the Wildlife Code of Missouri (see link below) for paddlefish regulations

  • Please remember — on Lake of the Ozarks and its tributaries, the Osage River below U.S. Highway 54, and on Truman Lake and its tributaries — no person shall continue to snag, snare, or grab for any species after taking a daily limit of two (2) paddlefish. Tickets have been issued for this violation.
  • Once you’ve taken your second fish, you are done snagging for the day.
  • You must possess a valid fishing permit if you are snagging or driving the boat used for snagging.
  • Do not clean paddlefish while you are on the water. The head, tail, and skin must remain attached to all fish that have length limits while those fish are on the water.

Take care returning sublegal fish to the water

This year's sublegal fish will be your harvest over the next several years. The Code states that sublegal paddlefish must be returned unharmed immediately and gently!

  • Take care when removing hooks, and get them back into the water as quickly as possible.
  • Be sure that your hands are wet before handling, and avoid excessive handling.
  • Do not pass them around for photos.
  • Hold fish firmly to avoid dropping them, and never put your fingers in the gills or eyes.

Avoid penalties! Use nets instead of gaffs to land fish

  • Using a gaff to land paddlefish can injure or kill sublegal paddlefish, making you subject to a penalty. Use a large net to land all paddlefish safely.

Wanted: Bighead and Silver Carp

MDC biologists are looking at bighead and silver carp (invasive species) to see if they have any impacts on our native fish species.

Biologists would like to collect all bighead and silver carp caught by anglers on Lake of the Ozarks, Truman, and Table Rock lakes. They will look at captured fish to see if there is any dietary overlap with our native paddlefish, determine if they are mature and able to reproduce, and look at various ages and sizes of fish. If you would like to help out, please save and freeze any bighead and silver carp that you catch. Contact Quinton Phelps at 605-695-0593 (cell) or Trish Yasger at 660-530-5500 (work) to arrange a pick-up of the fish you’ve collected.

Key Messages: 
We work with you and for you to sustain healthy forests, fish and wildlife.