Anglers finding Table Rock the place to land huge paddlefish

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April 12, 2002

Charlie Farmer, Springfiels News Leader

Anglers finding Table Rock the place to land huge paddlefish

Since the paddlefish opener on March 15, the snagging season at Table Rock Lake has been plentiful, to say the least.

I talked with Missouri Department of Conservation fisheries biologist Bill Anderson. He is a biologist who knows Table Rock Lake like the back of his hand. He and fishing friends have done their share of paddlefish snagging. This season, they have boated several 60-pound fish.

The new Missouri record paddlefish was snagged on the opener on Table Rock. It weighed 139 pounds, 4 ounces.

The record was almost short-lived.

On April 5 on Table Rock, Arnold Compton of rural Callao snagged a brute of a paddlefish weighing in on certified scales at 137 pounds, 8 ounces. It was the only catch of the trip for Compton and sons Tanner, 13, and Logan, 10. The three took turns trying to land the big fish.

While biologist Anderson likes the idea of Table Rock taking big paddlefish honors, he is not surprised that the lake has produced them — and lots of average fish in between.

“Table Rock has plenty of water that is suitable for paddlefish,” he said. “We started putting in 14-inch paddlefish fingerlings into Table Rock in 1973. The fish were tagged so we could monitor their progress in the James River.

“Apparently, the fish adapted to the lake and tributary streams.”

When the Corps of Engineers built Truman Lake, one of the finest paddlefish waters in Missouri, the Osage River, was put to rest. It was then that plans for paddlefish in Table Rock were considered.

Anderson says paddlefish have been in Table Rock long enough to have big fish, just as they had big paddlefish in the Osage before Truman Dam.

“Maybe we were lucky, who knows,” he said.

I asked Anderson about fish finders or electric graphs that anglers have been using to catch bass and walleye over the years. Could they be a tool that makes it easier to catch big paddlefish now? I had heard that most paddlefish snaggers now use the fish finders with good results.

He told me that snaggers have been using them for years. Anderson himself uses sonar to trace the blips of paddlefish. He doesn’t think the electronics have a bearing on the success rate for paddlefish on Table Rock.

However, the biologist and a partner were fishing for paddlefish near Bridgeport on Table Rock one day, and Anderson was scanning blips for paddlefish activity, when he recorded a blip that indicated a paddlefish of great proportion.

He turned to his partner wide-eyed and said to him, “We just missed a lake record, I’m sure of it.”

Paddlefish season runs through April 3O. As for another new record this season, who knows. The fun of it is getting out and trying. Moby paddlefish could make you a hero.
 

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