Paddlefish Snagging Report and Advisories
The 2013 paddlefish-snagging season opens Friday, March 15, and runs through Tuesday, April 30. Weekly paddlefish-snagging reports for Truman Lake, Lake of the Ozarks, and the Osage River begin after March 19, and fisheries biologist Trish Yasger posts them on Wednesdays. Updates are based on field observations from biologists and conservation agents.
Report for April 24, 2013 — FINAL REPORT OF THE SEASON
Below is the paddlefish snagging report for Truman Lake, Lake of the Ozarks, and the Osage River (Below Bagnell Dam). Water temperatures are still in the mid 50s and with all of the rain there is flow. Snaggers continue to harvested fish, especially on Lake of the Ozarks. Snaggers continue to catch a lot of small (28-32 inch) sublegal paddlefish. Please get these fish back into the water as soon as possible.
If you have any questions call 660-530-5500 or email Trish.Yasger@mdc.mo.gov
Information-collection project success
Thank you to everyone who provided samples from their fish during the 2013 snagging season. With your help, we’ve been able to collect biological information on more than 150 fish off of each reservoir (Table Rock Lake, Truman Lake, and Lake of the Ozarks) and numerous samples off of the Mississippi and Lower Osage rivers. This information, coupled with other MDC efforts, will help us better understand and manage paddlefish populations across the state. Your cooperation with this project is appreciated — thank you for your help!
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. Males make spawning migrations before females, with more females showing up when water temperatures are 55F and greater. As water temperature and flow increase, the fish will move upstream in the reservoir or river, and the number of larger females will increase.
Snagging will improve with warmer temps and higher flows
With the warmer weather and rains we continue to have flow, even too much water in some areas. Water temperatures are still in the mid 50s. The extended weather forecasts call for temperatures to warm up with chances of rain. Water temperatures should continue to increase. We should have enough rain to maintain flows through the end of the season. They are releasing water at both Truman and Bagnell dams. We have flow; however, water levels are beginning to fall.
Snagging Places and Prospects
- 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 up about 5 feet from last week and beginning to fall. This past weekend saw a lot of flow in the Marais des Cygnes and Osage rivers, which were bankfull. They are releasing water at Truman Dam, and there is flow. Water levels are coming down. There is a lot of debris in the River, so be careful and watch for logs and debris. Water temperatures were 54-56F.
- Snagging is slowing down, but they are harvesting some fish. The high fluctuating water is making it difficult to snag. The fish have moved upstream and it appears that they’ve started moving back down. We are seeing a few fish harvested. They are harvesting fish from Osceola to above Taberville (Schell Osage), but most of the harvest is around Taberville and above.
- Best guess. Try snagging above Taberville and below towards Roscoe and even down towards Osceola. Continue to be careful and watch for logs and debris.
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, find it difficult to get out of the coves at the City of Osceola and Crowe's Crossing ramps. 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 lake level is about the same as last week. They are releasing water from both Truman and Bagnell dams, so there is flow. Water temperatures were 53-54F.
- Snagging continues to improve, they are harvesting fish. When they weren’t releasing water at times this past weekend snagging was slow. Snagging picked back up when they started releasing water again at Truman Dam. Snagging should be good as long as they are releasing water at both of the dams. The fish are beginning to move upstream. We’ve seen a few limits and several boats with several fish. We are seeing more of the large females! The fish are still somewhat scattered out from MM60 up to the Highway 65 Bridge (about MM89.5). We are seeing more fish move up towards the dam. Snaggers are also harvesting some fish on the Niangua Arm.
- Best guess. As water temperatures continue to increase and there is flow the fish will move upstream toward Truman Dam. Try the deep holes from MM60 up to Highway 65 Bridge, moving upstream as water temperatures increase. Snagging is better when there is flow.
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 Harbor Access — snaggers should be reminded that they have to go below the Hwy. 65 bridge before they start snagging. Go downstream and start snagging below the Hwy. 65 bridge (about MM89.5) and down.
- Bledsoe Ferry Access — snaggers should be reminded that they have to go below the Hwy. 65 bridge before they start snagging. Go downstream and start snagging below the Hwy. 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 Hwy. 54.
There are numerous private ramps that you can pay to launch from.
- 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 inch (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 snaggers were between Highway 54 to RM 78. The river is fluctuating depending on releases from Bagnell Dam; there is flow as they are releasing water. Water temperature is in the low 50s. We aren’t seeing many snaggers. Snagging is slow and appears to be picking up a little. They have been harvesting a few small fish in the 24-28 inch size range.
Public ramps to launch
- Bagnell Dam Access — snaggers should be reminded that they have to go below the Hwy. 54 Bridge before they 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. With all of the rains the Missouri River is up and backing water up the Osage. Snagging continues to be slow. We are seeing a few snaggers, and they are harvesting a few small fish in the 30-38 inch size range. Water levels are fluctuating. There is flow, and water temperatures were in the low 50s.
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 Hwy 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.
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. Tickets have been issued for this violation. Once you’ve taken your second fish, you are done snagging for the day. All snaggers need to possess a valid fishing permit if they are snagging or driving the boat used for snagging. The Conservation Department has put consideration of a paddlefish permit on hold, so a general fishing permit remains the only requirement for paddlefish 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.
Return sublegal (1-4 years old) fish unharmed to the water immediately!
In 2008, we had our largest stocking of paddlefish ever—more than 260,000 fish. These fish are now five years old, and they should average about 30 inches (measured eye to fork of tail). These fish should start contributing to the harvest in 2015 and 2016. Snaggers will continue to catch a lot of these sublegal fish this year. Please release them unharmed immediately! Take care when removing hooks from these sublegal fish, and get them back into the water as quickly as possible. Avoid excessive handling, and be sure that your hands are wet before 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. It is important to release these fish unharmed immediately and gently because they are the fish that you will be harvesting in another few years!
Avoid penalties! Use nets instead of gaffs to land fish
To land paddlefish, many snaggers use gaffs, which can injure and kill sublegal paddlefish. The Wildlife Code of Missouri states that sublegal fish must be returned to the water unharmed immediately. If you accidentally injure or kill a sublegal adult with a gaff, you could be subject to a penalty. Use a large net to land all paddlefish safely.