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Updates from the Truman Lake Fisheries Biologist

As 2020 comes to an end, I am quickly approaching the three-year mark as the Fisheries Management Biologist for Truman Lake. One of the things I wanted to do this year was increase my use of social media, like Facebook, to update people on the fisheries management activities we’ve been doing at Truman Lake. I made a few posts, but there were also several posts I intended to make that I never got around to. So here’s a few highlights from 2020:

Early this spring we sank 33 brush piles in the Turpin Branch area.

Spring Black Bass sampling was pretty slow because of poor water conditions, but we still sampled some nice fish. I expect 2020 to be a good year for bass.

We saw several Walleye between 9-13” in our Spring sample. I also receive reports from several anglers seeing a lot of Walleye in that size range. I believe these fish are from natural recruitment that occurred in 2019. We also got a large stocking of 390,716 Walleye fingerlings in 2020. I am hopeful these two good classes of Walleye will result in an uptick in the Walleye fishing over the next few years.

Over the last 3 years I’ve collected and aged 345 hybrid Striped Bass otoliths from local fishing guides. This year I aged one fish that was 16 years old, the oldest Truman Lake hybrid I’ve aged thus far. We have several good classes of fish contributing to the fishery right now. The 2010 class still has a lot of fish in it but I’m expecting it to tail off a lot in the next couple years. The 2013, 2015 and 2016 classes all have good numbers of hybrids that should almost entirely be 21+ inches in the summer of 2021 and continue producing good fish for several years. There should also be good classes of smaller fish from 2019 (559,654 hybrids stocked) and 2020 (182,673 hybrids stocked). The 742,327 hybrids stocked in 2019 and 2020 classes is the largest number of hybrids ever stocked in Truman Lake over a 2-year period. It will be a few years before these fish are trophies but there should be a lot of 15-18” fish and smaller in 2021.

We netted crappie at 12 sites this fall and covered every end of the lake. There’s still some really big crappie out there, and there’s a lot of small, young crappie from the 2019 spawn. I know the upper Grand has a reputation for having big crappie, but 3 of the 6 biggest crappie we saw came from our site on the upper Osage near Osceola. To put that differently, 50% of our biggest fish came from 7% of our nets. However, that site had our lowest catch rates and we ate a lot of mud and propped a lot of trees to get them. On the other side of the spectrum, we have a lot of small crappie at Windsor Crossing. When it was all over with, I was tired of measuring 5-6” Black Crappie. I’m afraid there may be so many we stack up with small crappie in the Tebo arm for a few years. Growth and abundance vary a lot as you move around the lake and there are some parts of the lake those 2019 fish are growing really well and should provide really good fishing next year. We tended to see bigger fish as we moved up the lake, but get higher catch rates as we moved down the lake. That’s a little bit an oversimplification, but it’s generally true.

I did a little bit of catfish work in 2020, but not a lot. I’ve aged a few Blue Catfish and found that there’s a lot of 18-22 year old fish out there. One of the issues with catfish management is when fish can live 20-30 years it takes a lot of time for a regulation to take effect. The regulation change implementing the slot limit (2014) was still a relatively short time ago. We’re planning to reevaluate the Blue Catfish population but not until the fall of 2022. We’re also in the early stages of a study evaluating the Flathead Catfish in Truman Lake, but that work is just beginning.

I also didn’t do much Paddlefish work in 2020. We did get 21,258 Paddlefish (6-8”) stocked in 2020. They were stocked a little smaller sized and earlier in the year than normal due to some work being done on hatchery ponds. That should still be a good stocking. After having some down years from 2009-2015, we’ve had at least a few Paddlefish stocked every year from 2016-2020 including a couple really good years. It takes a while for Paddlefish to get to 34” but these last few years of good stocking will hopefully start to show during snagging season the next few years.

Christopher A. Brooke, Fisheries Management Biologist
Missouri Department of Conservation
2010 South Second Street
Clinton, MO 64735
(660) 885-8179 ext. 4953
Chris.Brooke@mdc.mo.gov

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