Report for March 17, 2015

For Truman Lake, Lake of the Ozarks and the Osage River (below Bagnell Dam).

40" caught around the 50MM March 21, 2015!

With the cold water temperatures and low flows, snagging got off to a slow start on Lake of the Ozarks and the Osage River. Snaggers had better success on Truman Lake. While snaggers harvested mostly small fish (34-37 inches), we did see a few larger fish, including a 116 lb. fish harvested on Lake of the Ozarks – see the photo on the MDC Facebook page. As water temperatures and flows increase the fish will start moving and snagging will improve. Think warm spring rains!

Snaggers are catching a lot of small (30-34 inch) sublegal fish, please get these fish back into the water unharmed immediately; you will be harvesting these fish in future years!

Thanks to snaggers who reported harvesting their tagged paddlefish. 

Violations cited these past few days include harvesting sublegal fish, snagging in a restricted zone, failure to label fish when left unattended, no permit, and littering.

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

Report tagged fish - get a reward

MDC is conducting a long-term study to improve paddlefish management.  Participating qualifies you to enter a raffle for up to $500.00 Find out how to participate.

Snagging success depends on the weather

Snagging is 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.

If we get a dry spring without much rain, snagging may not be as good as it has been in the past, and the fish will remain lower in the reservoirs or rivers. If we have a wet spring, fish will move up higher in the reservoirs or rivers. In some areas snagging may be very difficult or hazardous if flooding occurs. Logs and other debris can float downstream, and boaters need to be careful.

I would expect that the snagging season will get off to a typical slow start.  The recent snow and cold weather is keeping water temperatures colder than normal.  Surface water temperatures are in the mid 30’s. The extended forecast is calling for warmer weather. Truman Lake is at normal water level and Lake of the Ozarks is low. With the low water levels we will rely on spring rains to increase flows and get the fish moving – think warm spring rains! As water temperatures and flow increases snagging should improve!

Snagging places and prospects

Remember: after you have snagged your second paddlefish, you are done snagging for the day.

Lake of the Ozarks

  • Please remember the 34-inch length limit (eye to fork of tail 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 low. They are releasing a little water from both Truman and Bagnell dams, so there is very little flow. The water temperature is about 41F at the surface.
  • Snagging got off to a slow start. Snaggers are harvesting primarily small males and immature females (34-38 inch fish); we’ve seen a couple of larger fish harvested including a really nice 116 lb. fish. Snaggers are catching a lot of sublegal fish (30-34 inch fish), please be sure to release these fish unharmed immediately. 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 better lower in the lake, below MM81. Snaggers also harvested a few fish on the Niangua Arm (between mouth of the Little Niangua Arm and Highway 54 bridge).
  • Best guess. When fish are scattered out, snagging tends to be better lower in the lake. With the cold water temperatures try the deep holes from MM50 up to Highway 65 bridge. Snaggers typically have better luck lower in the lake below MM70.

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).
  • 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 cold and flows are low even though they are releasing a little water at Bagnell Dam. Snaggers harvested a few small fish (24-30 inches).

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; the lower 25 miles. We also see snaggers out in the Missouri River. Snagging in this area is typically slow early in the season.

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.
  • Unless, exempt, anglers must possess a valid fishing permit if you are snagging or driving the boat used for snagging.
  • Extracted paddlefish eggs may not be possessed while on the water or adjacent banks and may not be transported. Paddlefish eggs may not be bought, sold, or offered for sale.
  • 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.

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.

Great website - http://mdc.mo.gov/fishing/places-fish/paddlefish-snagging-report-and-advisories

Valerie Littrell - Broker/Owner - Real Estate at the Lake - SellingTheLake - 573-216-4991