Report for April 24, 2019
For Truman Lake, Lake of the Ozarks and the Osage River (below Bagnell Dam).
Not much has changed from last week. Water temperatures are slowly getting warmer and there is still flow. Truman Lake water levels are coming down and flows are dropping too. They are releasing water from both Truman and Bagnell dams, so there is good flow on Lake of the Ozarks. Snagging is beginning to slow down on Truman Lake and snaggers continue to have success on Lake of the Ozarks. As water levels and flows are coming down on upper Truman the fish are starting to move back down. Fish on Lake of the Ozark have moved up; we’re seeing fish harvested all the way up to Hwy. 65 Bridge. Most of the fish that they are harvesting are 36-42 inches and in good condition. We’re seeing more of large females harvested on Lake of the Ozarks. The Osage River below Bagnell Dam is up, and we’re also seeing the paddlefish move up here too. Water releases should continue at both Truman and Bagnell Dams. They are calling for rain and nice spring weather this next week.
Staff spawned paddlefish at Blind Pony Hatchery at the beginning of April. The fry are looking good and should all be moved outside to hatchery ponds by the end of the week This fall the fingerlings will be stocked into Lake of the Ozarks, Harry S. Truman Reservoir, Table Rock Lake and Black River. It will take these fish about 7-years to reach legal size – 34-inches on the reservoirs. These fish will be large enough to begin harvesting in 2026.
Violations cited this past week include snagging in no snagging zone, fishing without a permit and continuing to snag after catching two paddlefish. Please remember to keep fish separate and identifiable and that fish fillets in coolers need to be properly labeled.
There has been a lot of discussion regarding “catch and release” snagging. Unlike other species of fish in Missouri, the catch and release of legal paddlefish, any fish of legal length, is not permitted. In other words, once a legal paddlefish is caught, that fish is to be retained or kept by the angler and included in their daily limit, they cannot be released. However, all sublegal (fish less than the legal length limit) paddlefish must be released unharmed immediately. Once two legal paddlefish are caught they are to be retained by the angler and included in their daily limit. Please remember that on Lake of the Ozarks and its tributaries, Osage River below U.S. Highway 54, and 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. Be sure to check the Wildlife Code of Missouri for paddlefish regulations.
Thanks to all the snaggers who have reported tagged paddlefish. Please continue to report all tagged fish. Yes, you can keep the silver jaw tags, we will need a picture of the tag or if you send it in, you’ll need to flatten it and we will send it back to you. Please do not remove tags from sublegal fish. Reporting tagged fish will help us monitor and better manage paddlefish, together we can keep paddlefish snagging great for many years to come.
We are continuing to see more bank snaggers. When operating a boat near bank snaggers please be conscientious of them. Please slow down and give them space; running into their line risks pulling them into the water. Everyone needs to stay safe.
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. Please report all tagged paddlefish that you catch. 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 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, 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 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 or hazardous if flooding occurs. When lakes and rivers are rising due to heavy rain, logs and other debris can float downstream, and boaters need to be careful.
With the nice weather we’ve been having, water temperatures are slowly increasing, and we have good flows. Water temperatures are in the upper 50’s/low 60’s on upper Truman Lake and upper 50’s on Lake of the Ozarks. The Truman Lake water level is continuing to come down as they continue to release water from Truman Dam. Water levels on Lake of the Ozarks are up slightly. The Osage River below Bagnell Dam is up. They are releasing water from both Truman and Bagnell dams, these releases should continue. The extended forecast is calling for rain and nice spring temperatures this week.
Snagging places and prospects
Remember: after you have snagged your second paddlefish, you are done snagging for the day
- Please remember the 34-inch-length limit (eye to fork of tail) on Truman Lake and its tributaries.
- Truman Lake is coming down, yet still several feet above normal pool, and flows are dropping. They have been releasing water from Truman Dam. The water temperature is in the upper 50’s/low 60’s.
- Snagging is beginning to slow down as water levels and flows drop. The fish are a little more scattered out. They are catching some fish from Osceola area to Taberville and above. Snaggers are harvesting primarily 36-42 inch fish and we’re seeing a few of the larger females harvested. Snaggers are catching some sublegal fish (20-34 inch fish), please be sure to release these fish unharmed immediately.
- Best guess. With the water levels and flows dropping the fish are beginning to move back down into the lake. Try the deep holes from the Osceola area to Taberville and above. As the fish move down, you’ll may want to move down too.
Public ramps to launch — from down to upstream
- Talley Bend Access: go upstream towards Horseshoe Bend and up towards the Walker Hole/ Weaubleau Creek and above towards Osceola OR downstream towards Fox Run.
- Brush Creek Access: go downstream towards Walker Hole/ Weaubleau Creek and below OR upstream towards Osceola and above.
- Caution: When the lake level is at normal pool (706' msl) and below, 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. Be sure to always use caution.
- 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. This has become a popular bank snagging area, please be courteous of the bank snaggers.
- 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 Access: 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.
Lake of the Ozarks
- Please remember the 34-inch length limit (eye to fork of tail on Lake Ozark and its tributaries. Snagging is not permitted from the no-fishing zone below Truman Dam to the Highway 65 Bridge.
- The Lake of the Ozarks lake level is up about a foot from last week. They are releasing water from both Truman and Bagnell dams. The water temperature is in the upper 50’s.
- Snagging has been good on the Osage Arm; the fish have moved upstream. We are not seeing as much snagging on the Niangua Arm as we had been seeing. Snaggers are harvesting primarily 36-42 inch fish and we’re seeing more of the larger females. We’re seeing snaggers with limits. We are seeing fish harvested from MM60 up to the Highway 65 bridge (about MM 89.5). We are now seeing good snagging above MM80 to the Highway 65 bridge.
- Best guess. The fish have moved upstream. Try the deep holes from MM60 up to the Highway 65 Bridge. As the flows continue and water temperatures increase snagging should be good.
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 and 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.
- Caution: With the low lake levels some people, especially the snaggers with deeper, V-bottom boats and pontoons, find it difficult to get out of the cove. Be sure to always use caution.
- 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.
- On the Osage River below Bagnell Dam, the minimum length limit remains 24 inches (eye to fork of tail). Snagging is not permitted from the no-snagging zone from Bagnell Dam to U.S. Highway 54 Bridge.
- On the Upper Osage River below Bagnell Dam, a snag fishery exists for a few miles below the Highway 54 Bridge to RM78 (just past the golf course). The water level is still up, and they are releasing water from Bagnell Dam. The fish have moved up. We’re not seeing a lot of snagging, however they are harvesting some fish, primarily 26-32 inch fish. Water temperatures are in the low to mid 50’s.
- 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. Occasionally we also see snaggers out in the Missouri River. With all of the flooding on the Missouri River we haven’t seen any snaggers in this area or heard of any fish being harvested.
Public ramps to launch — from down to upstream
- Bagnell Dam Access: you must go below the Highway 54 Bridge before you can start snagging.
- 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.
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.
- Once two legal paddlefish are caught they are to be retained by the angler and included in their daily limit.
- 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.
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 from MDC’s Blind Pony Hatchery. It takes paddlefish seven to eight years to grow to legal size. In 2016 more than 314,000 foot-long fingerlings were stocked - MDC’s largest stocking of paddlefish. These fish will be large enough to harvest beginning in 2023. As these fish grow snaggers will catch a lot of these sublegal fish. It is extremely important to release all sublegal fish unharmed immediately and gently because they are the fish that you will be harvesting over the next several years!
The Code states that sublegal paddlefish must be returned unharmed immediately after being caught!
- Take care when removing hooks, and get the fish back into the water as quickly as possible.
- Be sure that your hands are wet before handling, and avoid excessive handling.
- Do not pass fish 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.