Stream Fish Distribution and Abundance
Sixty-six fish species representing 16 families have been collected (including sport fish sample observations) in the Eleven Point Watershed since 1930 (Table Bc01) (MDC 1998a and Pflieger 1975). Figure Bc01 shows recent as well as historical fish community sampling sites within the Eleven Point Watershed.
In 1996, fish were collected at nine locations throughout the watershed, including one site at each of four major tributaries to the Eleven Point River (Middle Fork, Spring Creek, Hurricane Creek, and Frederick Creek). Collection sites on the four major tributaries were located within three miles of the tributary mouths. Since 1930, fish have been collected from 30 sites throughout the watershed.
The stream fish fauna of the Eleven Point River Watershed is dominated by Ozark species (Table Bc01). Since 1980, fifty-six fish species have been collected (including sport fish sample observations), 51 of which have been collected at one or more locations on the mainstem of the Eleven Point River. According to the faunal region classification of species as developed by Pflieger (1989), they could be described as 60% Ozark, 9% Ozark-Prairie, 11% Ozark-lowland, 4% Ozark-Big River, 2% Prairie, and 14% widely distributed.
Two fish species, checkered madtom and spotted sucker appear to have very limited distributions in the watershed. Checkered madtom were collected from only two sites; both of which were on the Eleven Point River. A single spotted sucker was collected during the 1989, Eleven Point River sport fish sample (Mayers 1994). The fish was collected somewhere between Thomasville and Greer Spring Branch. Several spotted suckers were observed during the 1996 sample of the Wild Trout Management Area, just below Greer Spring. These observations of a spotted sucker from the Eleven Point River, represent new distributions for the species. The historical range of the spotted sucker extended east and north from the Current River Watershed and did not include the Eleven Point River Watershed (Pflieger 1997). To further quantify the distribution of the spotted sucker and checkered madtom, additional sampling effort on the Eleven Point River is required.
Eight fish species collected from the Eleven Point River Watershed prior to 1980, were not found in post 1980 samples. These fish include black buffalo, channel catfish, spotted bass, freshwater drum, mooneye, gilt darter, ozark shiner, and johnny darter.
None of the previously mentioned species have ever been collected in great numbers or in many samples within the watershed. Out of these collections, the maximum number of individuals collected were 7 spotted bass from a single site in 1964 while the maximum number of collections an individual species occurred in was 2. This in addition to the fact that most of the previously mentioned species are commonly found in other areas of the state is why their absence in recent collections is not necessarily a concern. Exceptions to this which raise an immediate management concern, however, include the gilt darter, mooneye, and Ozark Shiner.
The gilt darter, although it remains common in the Current, Black, and Gasconade River systems, has experienced a decline in its range since the construction of dams within the White River Basin (Pflieger 1997). Within the Eleven Point Watershed, only one individual from from one site has been collected since 1930. It appears that this species has never been common within the watershed; however, due to the decline of its already small range, additional effort should be expended toward determining the present status of this species within the watershed.
The mooneye is currently listed as a species of conservation concern (MDC 1999). Only 4 individuals from 2 samples have been collected within the Eleven Point Watershed. Pflieger (1997) states that "the mooneye has never been common in Missouri collections and may be declining". It is possible this species no longer exists within the watershed. Additional sampling will be necessary in order to determine the status of this species in the watershed.
The Ozark Shiner has only been collected in two samples within the watershed. A total of three individuals were collected in these samples (MDC 1998). Because of state wide reductions in the range of the Ozark Shiner and virtual extirpation from areas such as the Eleven Point Watershed, the Ozark Shiner has been placed on the "Species of Conservation Concern" List (MDC 1999a). Future monitoring will need to be performed in order to determine the status of this species within the watershed.
One fish species, the Ozark Chub, was collected in fish community samples after 1980, but had not appeared within the watersheds in previous collections. The Ozark Chub occurs within neighboring watersheds; thus its appearance within the Eleven Point Watershed is should be of little surprise.
Four species have been observed in sport fish samples which have not been collected in historical fish community samples within the watershed. These include the black crappie, fathead minnow, sauger, and spotted sucker. Both the black crappie, sauger, & spotted sucker have been collected in fish community samples within neighboring watersheds. The fathead minnow, however, does not occur in any watersheds bordering the Eleven Point. This species has been recommended as a supplemental forage species for game fish in new fishing ponds and lakes (MDC 1992). In addition, it is said to be one of the most commonly used bait minnows in North America. For these reasons it is quite possible that additional populations exist within the Eleven Point, as well as other watersheds.
Sport fish species (as defined as game fish in MDC 1999b) occurring within the Eleven Point Watershed include black crappie, chain pickerel, largemouth bass, and rainbow trout, shadow bass, sauger, smallmouth bass, walleye, and warmouth,(Mayers 1994, MDC 1998a, and Ozark Region Sport Fish Collection Files).
The Eleven Point River from Thomasville to Greer Spring Branch is characterized as a warm water stream (Mayers 1994). Discharge from Greer Spring doubles the flow of the Eleven Point River. The cold water influence from Greer Spring transforms the river into a coldwater fishery for approximately the next 20 miles to Highway 160. From Highway 160 to the state line the Eleven Point is primarily a warm water fishery, although the springs near the mouth of Fredrick Creek affect year round temperatures for a few miles downstream.
Sport fish populations in the Eleven Point River from Thomasville to Greer Spring Branch were sampled in 1989 and 1990 (Mayers 1994). In addition to longear sunfish, shadow bass, and smallmouth bass, which dominate the fishery; largemouth bass, northern hog sucker , chain pickerel, and rainbow trout were also collected during these samples. Tables Bc02, Bc03, Bc04 summarize the electrofishing catch, estimated abundance and size distribution of shadow bass, smallmouth bass, and largemouth bass.
The twenty miles of cold water are primarily managed for rainbow trout. Greer Spring Branch to Turner Mill has been designated a Wild Trout Management Area (MDC 1999c). The Eleven Point River is designated as a Trout Management Area from Turner Mill to 14.2 miles downstream of Tuner Mill. In addition to rainbow trout, the cold water areas support sizable populations of smallmouth bass, shadow bass, longear sunfish and several species of suckers. Chain pickerel also contribute to this sport fishery, although their numbers have never been estimated.
Similar to the warmwater sport fishery in the head waters, the lower reaches of the Eleven Point River support good populations of chain pickerel, largemouth bass, shadow bass, smallmouth bass and walleye. In addition to these species, the Eleven Point River near the Arkansas state line supports a limited sauger population.
In addition to the previously mentioned sport fish, streams within the Eleven Point Watershed support populations of bluegill, black redhorse, golden redhorse, green sunfish, longear sunfish, northern hogsucker, redear and redspotted sunfish, shorthead redhorse, spotted sucker, white sucker, and yellow bullhead.
Grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella), bluegill, largemouth bass, and channel catfish are routinely stocked in lakes and ponds throughout the Eleven Point Watershed. There are only two public lakes within the watershed. Stocking records for these lakes date back to 1964. Simms Valley Lake is 38 acres and was constructed in 1963. Within the first few years after construction, Simms Valley Lake was stocked with bluegill, largemouth bass, redear sunfish, and channel catfish. While other fish populations have sustained themselves, channel catfish stocking has continued on an annual basis (Table Bc05). McCormack Lake is 11 acres and was constructed in the 1930's and has remained under United States Forest Service ownership since that time. Original stocking records of McCormack Lake are not available, however, present day fish populations suggest that in addition to channel catfish; bluegill, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and grass carp were all stocked at some point in time. Periodic stocking of channel catfish into McCormack Lake has continued since 1977 (Table Bc06). The potential exists for these fish to enter streams during periods of high precipitation. Blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus), also stocked into lakes and ponds, have been captured from the Eleven Point Watershed (Legler, personal communication). Bait bucket releases also occur in streams throughout the watershed.
Available records indicate the first state authorized stocking of trout into the Eleven Point River occurred in 1962 with the release of 5000 rainbow trout. Stocking of rainbow trout has continued at a near-annual occurrence (Table Bc07). Between 12,000 and 16,000 rainbow trout per year have been released into the Eleven Point River since 1991. These trout support areas managed by minimum length limits as well as put-and-take fisheries.
A total of 23 mussle species have been collected from the Eleven Point Watershed (Table Bc08 and Figure Bc02)(Oesch 1995, MDC 1998b, and Turgeon et al. 1998). Of these, 3 species are listed as species of conservation concern (MDC 1999a). These include the black sandshell, Ouachita Kidneyshell, and the purple lilliput. Both the Ouchita Kidneyshell and puple lilliput are former category 2 federal candidates. While the Missouri Department of Conservation continues to distinguish these former category 2 species for information and planning purposes. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) discontinued the practice of maintaining a list of species regarded as "category-2 candidates" in 1996 (MDC 1999a).
Six species of crayfish Hubbs' Crayfish (Cambarus hubbsi), coldwater crayfish (Orconectes eupunctus), OzarkCrayfish (Orconectes ozarkae), Salem Cave Crayfish (Cambarus hubrichti), devil crayfish (Cambarus diogenes), and spothanded crayfish (Orconectes punctimanus) have been collected from the Eleven Point Watershed (Table Bc09 and Figure Bc03)(MDC 1988; Pflieger 1996; and MDC 1998c). The Hubbs', coldwater, Ozark and spothanded crayfish are primarily aquatic, while the devil crayfish lives primarily on land, in burrows extending down to the water table. Both the coldwater crayfish and the Salem Cave Crayfish are listed as species of conservation concern (MDC 1999a). The coldwater crayfish occurs only in the Eleven Point River and Spring River (Pflieger 1996). The Salem Cave Crayfish has been found only in Missouri and is believed to occur throughout the eastern Ozarks from Camden to Crawford Counties, southward to Oregon and Ripley Counties.
Benthic macro-invertebrates have been periodically sampled throughout the Eleven Point Watershed by Missouri Department of Conservation employees since 1974. A total of 78 collections have been made from 20 sites throughout the watershed including Spring Creek, Barren Fork, Middle Fork, Fredrick Creek, Hurricane Creek, and the main stem of the Eleven Point River (Table Bc10 and Figure Bc04) (MDC 1995b and MDC 1998d). A comparison was made between two samples taken from the same site and same month, but in different years (Table Bc11). Although the amount of effort expended in 1985 (8 ft2) is only 75% of the 1974 effort (12 ft2), eight additional taxa were collected in 1985. With few exceptions, the numbers of organisms per taxa, per square feet were greater in the 1985 collection. Much of the increase occurred within the family Ephemoptera, which could be an indication of improved water quality.
Species of Conservation Concern
A total of 76 species of conservation concern are known to occur in the Eleven Point Watershed (Table Bc12)(MDC 1999a and MDC 1999c). This includes four species of fish (mooneye, Ozark Shiner, checkered madtom, and southern cavefish), one species of amphibian (Ozark Hellbender), three species of mussel (black sandshell, Ouachita Kidneyshell, and purple lilliput), and two species of crayfish (Salem Cave Crayfish and cold water crayfish). Terrestrial oriented species include two species with state and federal endangered status: the gray bat (Myotis grisescens) and the Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis). In addition three other species are state endangered. These include the Bachman's Sparrow (Aimophila aestivalis), Swainson’s Warbler (Limnothlypis swainsonii), and the bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). The bald eagle also has federal threatened status. Several heron rookeries have also been identified throughout the watershed.