Paddlefish Snagging Report for March 18, 2011

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Below is a brief paddlefish snagging report for Truman Lake, Lake Ozark and the Osage River based on what we’ve seen the first couple of days of the season.

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. A couple tickets were issued for this opening day. Once you’ve taken your second fish, you are done snagging for the day.

We have seen a lot of small (1- to 3-year-old) sublegal paddlefish. These fish need to be returned to the water unharmed immediately after being caught. Please take care when removing hooks from these fish and get them back into the water as quickly as possible. Because these are the fish that you will be harvesting in 6-8 years, it is important to release them unharmed immediately and gently!

Slow Start, But Snagging Should Improve

With the cold-water temperatures snagging got off to a slow start in all areas, with a few fish harvested the first couple of days of the season. Snaggers harvested a few “local” fish and small males, and we did see a couple of nice females. As water temperatures increase snagging should improve.

Truman Lake

The Truman Lake/Osage Arm is up slightly. There is flow coming down the Marais des Cygnes and Osage rivers. Managers are releasing water at Truman Dam. There is some debris in the river, so snaggers need to be careful and watch for the logs and debris. The water temperature is around 44 degrees F at the surface.

Fish were scattered out from Talley Bend to Taberville. Your best bet is snagging in the deep holes or the Osceola area and above.

Ramps to Launch (from down to upstream)

  • Talley Bend Access: Go upstream towards Horseshoe Bend and up to Walker Hole/Weaubleau Creek and above the Brush Creek Access to the Osceola area.
  • Brush Creek Access: Go downstream towards Horseshoe Bend, OR go upstream towards Osceola and above.
  • Crowe’s Crossing: Go downstream towards Brush Creek Access and down to Horseshoe Bend, OR upstream towards Roscoe and/or go up the Sac River a couple of miles.
  • City of Osceola: Go upstream from the ramp towards Roscoe and/or go up the Sac River a couple of miles, OR go downstream towards Brush Creek Access and down to Weaubleau Creek and Horseshoe Bend.
  • 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 toward the Monegaw Springs area and even further above to Taberville.
  • Taberville: Go downstream from the ramp towards the Clear Creek area on down to Monegaw Springs area and even further down to Roscoe Access and below, OR go upstream towards the “cut” and above.

NOTE: When the lake level is normal pool (706 feet msl), some people find it difficult to get out of the coves at the City of Osceola and Crowe’s Crossing ramps. Snaggers with the deeper V-bottom boats, please be sure to always use caution!

Lake Ozark

The Lake is up slightly. Managers are releasing water from both Truman and Bagnell Dams, so there is flow. Snaggers still need to be careful not to get stuck on the mud bars/flats. The water temperature is around 43 degrees F at the surface.

Fish were scattered out from mile marker 50 up to the Highway 65 Bridge (about mile marker 89.5). Your best bet is snagging in the deep holes.

Public Ramps to Launch (from down to upstream)

(There are numerous private ramps that you can pay to launch from.)

  • Browns Bend (around mile marker 61.5): I’ve been told that 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 up stream towards Wigwam Access OR downstream towards mile marker 50.
  • Wigwam School Access (mile marker 66.2): Go downstream towards Browns Bend OR upstream towards the Highway 65 Bridge (about mile marker 89.5).
  • Warsaw Harbor Access: Go below the Highway 65 Bridge before you start snagging. Go downstream and start snagging below the Highway 65 bridge (about mile marker 89.5) and down.
  • Bledsoe Ferry Access: Go below the Highway 65 Bridge before you start snagging. Go downstream and start snagging below the Highway 65 Bridge (about mile marker 89.5) and down.
  • Larry Gale Access–Niangua Arm: Go downstream to where the Little Niangua joins the “big” Niangua or upstream toward Highway 54.

Osage River (below Bagnell Dam)

There is flow because managers are releasing water from Bagnell Dam. The water temperature is around 44 degrees F at the surface. On the upper Osage River, snagging is primarily done from the Highway 54 Bridge (below Bagnell Dam) to RM78. And on the lower Osage River, snagging is primarily done the lower 22 miles (from a couple of miles above Pikes Camp all the way down to the Missouri River). Snagging can be done on the entire Osage River; we just don’t see a lot of snaggers between these areas. Fish were scattered out in the upper and lower sections, with snaggers harvesting a few small fish in both areas.

Ramps to Launch (from down to upstream)

  • Bonnots Mill Access: Go up or down stream. In the past we’ve seen a few snaggers out in the Missouri River.
  • Mari Osa Access: Go downstream below the Highway 63 Bridge, towards Bonnot’s Mill OR just above towards the lock and dam.
  • Pikes Camp Access: Go upstream a couple of miles OR downstream towards the lock and dam above the Mari-Osa Access.
  • Bagnell Dam Access: Go below the Highway 54 bridge before you start snagging.

Attention Snaggers: Please Call in Jaw Tag Info

Many paddlefish from Missouri and other states have been tagged with metal bands/tags on their lower jaws. These fish are being tagged to monitor their movement throughout the river basin. These metal jaw bands are located toward the back of the lower jaw, and they have a number and contact information on them. There is no reward for returning these tags; however, the information that we will learn about paddlefish movement is very valuable in helping us to manage this important species.

In Missouri we have jaw tagged paddlefish on the Lower Osage (below Bagnell Dam), Lake Ozark and Truman Lake. If you harvest a paddlefish with a jaw tag, please contact me with the following information: Jaw tag number, body of water and general location where fish was harvested, and the length and sex of the fish. I should be able to provide you with information on when and where your fish was tagged.

For fish caught on the Lower Osage (below Bagnell Dam) it is possible that your fish was tagged in another state. If this is the case I will assist you in passing this information along to them.

Thanks!

Trish Yasger

660/530-5500 ext. 224

Trish [dot] Yasger [at] mdc [dot] mo [dot] gov

Snagging for Paddlefish

Snagging is very dependent on weather conditions, primarily water temperature and flow. When water temperatures are 50-55 degrees F and there is an increase in flow, paddlefish make spawning migrations upstream. Early in the season harvest is primarily made up of “local” fish and smaller males. As water temperature and flow increase the fish will move upstream in the reservoir or river and the number of larger females will increase. If we have a dry spring and don’t get 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. If we have a very wet spring, as we’ve had the last couple of years, fish will move up higher in the reservoirs; in some areas snagging may be very difficult if not hazardous especially if flooding occurs. When lakes and rivers are rising due to heavy rain, logs and other debris can be coming downstream and boaters need to be careful.

With all of this being said, I would expect that the snagging season will most likely get off to a slow start due to all of the snow, cold weather and cooler than normal water temperatures that we’ve been experiencing–unfortunately, the extended weather forecasts aren’t calling for any really warm weather either. Currently the surface water temperature at Truman Dam is 40 F and they are releasing water at both Truman and Bagnell dams. With the warmer weather, more sunshine and any increases in water flow from warm spring rains, water temperatures should slowly begin to increase–think warm spring rains! On opening day there will be some “local” fish harvested–primarily small males and a few large females. Just remember, as water temperatures and flow increase snagging should improve!

Release sublegal fish unharmed immediately!

In 2008, we had our largest stocking of paddlefish ever–more than 260,000 fish. These fish are now 3-year old fish and should average about 25-inches (measured eye-to-fork of tail). These fish should start contributing to the creel/harvest in 2015/2016. Snaggers should start catching a lot more of these sublegal fish this year. These sublegal fish need to be released immediately unharmed; fish need to be released back into the water a quickly as possible, so they can survive to grow and be caught in future years. Take care when removing hooks from sublegal fish and get them back into the water as quickly as possible. Avoid excessive handling of these fish, be sure that your hands are wet before handling, and avoid passing them around for numerous photo ops. Hold fish firmly to prevent them from being dropped, never put fingers in the gills or eyes. It is important to release these fish unharmed immediately and gently because these are the fish that you will be harvesting in another 3-8+ years!

Avoid penalties–use nets instead of gaffs to land fish

Many snaggers use gaffs to land paddlefish, which can injure and kill sublegal paddlefish. The use of gaffs is not the preferred method to land paddlefish. Landing paddlefish using large nets is the preferred methods as any sublegal or unwanted fish can then be returned to the water immediately unharmed. Also keep in mind, the regulations states that sublegal fish must be returned to the water unharmed immediately after being caught. Remember that every fish that dies before reaching legal size is one less fish for you to catch in the future!

You need to check the codebook for paddlefish regulations. Remember that snaggers will need to possess a valid fishing permit if you are snagging or driving the boat being snagged from. 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.

Where to Snag

Table Rock Lake

  • Remember the 34 inch length limit (eye to fork of tail) AND after you’ve snagged your second paddlefish, you are done snagging for the day on Table Rock Lake and its tributaries.
  • On Table Rock Lake, most of the snagging occurs in the upper reaches of the James River Arm within 3 miles of Flat Creek around Point 15. During high water years, fish and snaggers can go further up the James River.
  • Public ramps to launch include: Cape Fair and Bridge Port accesses.

Truman Lake

  • Snaggers need to be reminded of the 34 inch length limit (eye to fork of tail) AND after they have snagged their second paddlefish they are done snagging for the day on Truman Lake and its tributaries.
  • On Truman Lake, paddlefish make spawning runs up the Osage River Arm into the Marais des Cygnes River. Early in the season snagging is good above the Talley Bend Access and near Osceola. As water temperatures and flow increase paddlefish move upstream towards the Roscoe and Taberville accesses and above. Paddlefish can also be found in the lower couple of miles of the Sac River. During years of high water snagging can also be good in the Marais des Cygnes River all the way up to the Kansas border. Snagging is primarily done from boat; however some anglers snag from the banks at the accesses, bridge right-of-ways and Schell-Osage Conservation Area.
  • Public ramps to launch include: Talley Bend, Brush Creek, Crowes Crossing, City of Osceola, Highway 83, Roscoe, Taberville and Old Town accesses.

Lake of the Ozarks

  • Snaggers need to be reminded of the 34 inch length limit (eye to fork of tail) AND after they have snagged their second paddlefish they are done snagging for the day on Lake Ozark and its tributaries.
  • Most of the snagging and harvest occurs in deep pools on the upper 40 miles of the Osage River Arm. Early in the season snagging is good in the Ivy Bend/Coffman Bend area around 50 mile marker and above. As water temperatures and flows increase paddlefish move upstream towards Truman Dam. Snagging is not permitted from Truman Dam downstream to the Highway 65 Bridge. A snag fishery also exists in the Niangua Arm between the mouth of the Little Niangua Arm and the Highway 54 Bridge.
  • Public ramps to launch include: Bledsoe Ferry, Warsaw (Drake) Harbor, Wigwam School, Brown’s Bend and Larry Gale accesses. There are also numerous private ramps that snaggers can pay to launch from.

Osage River

  • Snaggers need to be reminded of 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 they have snagged their second paddlefish they are done snagging for the day.
  • A snag fishery exists for a few miles below the Highway 54 Bridge that is about 1.3 miles downstream from Bagnell Dam. The area between Highway 54 and Bagnell Dam is closed to snagging to protect small paddlefish that congregate in this area. Paddlefish are also harvested in the lower 25-miles of the Osage River.
  • Public ramps to launch include: Bagnell Dam, Tuscumbia, Kings Bluff, Tavern Creek, St. Thomas, Pike’s Camp, Mari-Osa and Bonnots Mill accesses.