Largemounth bass study underway at Table Rock

SPRINGFIELD MO -- The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the University of Missouri are working together on a radio-telemetry study that will provide information about behavior and habitat use of largemouth bass.

Tracking of the tagged fish will begin this month (May) and will continue through 2012. Each fish will be located once per month during daylight hours. Once every three months, a smaller number of the tagged fish will be tracked for a full 24-hour period to monitor daytime and night-time movements. Once each fish is located information will be recorded such as GPS location, distance travelled from last location, depth and habitat use.

Earlier this year, 60 legal-size (greater than 15 inches) largemouth bass were collected from the Kings River arm of Table Rock and surgically implanted with radio tags. After the fish recovered from their surgeries, they were released back into the lake.

A tagged fish can be identified by a radio-tag antenna coming out of the body cavity and sutures near the fish’s abdomen. Besides a radio tag, each bass in the study was also tagged with an orange tag near the dorsal fin. This tag has a five-digit number unique to each fish. Anglers who catch tagged fish should contact the MDC at 417-334-4859 or e-mail MDC Fisheries Management Biologist Shane Bush at shane.bush@mdc.mo.gov.  

When reporting a tagged fish, individuals should provide:

  • Number from the orange tag.
  • Length and weight of the fish.
  • Location the fish was caught (GPS coordinates if possible).
  • Overall condition of the fish.
  • Approximate depth the fish was caught at and if it was near a habitat structure (if known.)
  • If the fish was released or harvested.

This study is part of the Table Rock Lake National Fish Habitat Initiative, a project designed to maintain and improve fish habitat in Table Rock.

Since 2007, the MDC has placed more than 1,500 fish habitat structures in the lake. These structures were marked using GPS. Locations of these structures can be found at http://newmdcgis.mdc.mo.gov/tablerock.

The NFHI project is a joint effort of the MDC, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Bass Pro Shops, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other organizations. It is a pilot project for a broader national program focused on habitat protection and restoration in reservoirs throughout the country.