New guide filled with smallmouth information


Mar 11, 2001
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Aug. 2, 2002

Charlie Farmer, Springfield News Leader

New guide filled with smallmouth information

Francis Skalicky, metro media specialist for the Missouri Department of Conservation in Springfield, e-mailed me a few days ago.

“Have I got a story for you,” he said. “It’s as big as George Brett’s home run off Goose Gossage in the 1980 playoffs.”

Knowing that Skalicky is a baseball man at heart, I read what he had to say. As it turned out the topic was about smallmouth bass fishing. Another sport that is dear to my heart. The good news from my friend was a brand new “Ozark Smallmouth Bass Fishing 2002.”

A few years ago, MDC put out a free guide for “Missouri Trout Fishing.” The easy-to-use 4-inch by 9-inch trouting map enabled Missouri natives or newcomers to the state to find the waters of their choice without getting lost and not knowing the regulations in different streams and lakes.

Smallmouth have a number of local names. They include brown bass, brownie, bronze backs, green trout, jumper, Oswego bass, redeye bass, river bass and smallie. The smallmouth bass is actually a member of the sunfish family. Smallmouth bass shun water with temperatures that commonly exceed the mid-80s. Temperatures over 9O degrees are lethal.

Smallmouth bass have a maximum life expectancy of about 18 years; however, only a few ever even live even half that long. The current Missouri state record is 7 pounds, 2 ounces, caught in 1994 from Stockton Lake. The largest smallmouth bass on record weighed 11 pounds, 15 ounces and was 27 inches long. It was caught in 1955 from Dale Hollow Lake in Tennessee.

Adult smallmouth bass prefer crayfish, followed by fish. In periods of low light, adult fish will venture away from cover and move into shallow water to feed, especially at the head and tail of deeper pools where the current increases.

Lures for smallmouths include crayfish, crankbaits, jig-n-pig, spinner, buzzbait with trailer, curley tail, crawfish flies and floating minnow lures.

MDC cautions anglers not to tag or mark smallmouth bass. The Wildlife Code of Missouri states that fish taken into actual possession, unless released unharmed immediately, shall be included in the daily limit of the taker. Anglers who mark fish with tags or fin clips are not releasing their catch unharmed or immediately.

Fisheries biologists use these techniques to evaluate fish populations. Anglers who mark fish are confounding scientific studies and, if not done properly, are also increasing the chance of killing the fish.

While there are smallmouth bass in reservoirs, there is nothing like wade or float fishing on a Missouri Ozark stream to feel the pulse of running water. There is no better time to fish for smallies than from late May through September. Like most smallmouth anglers in streams these days, catch and release has caught on.

The new “Ozark Smallmouth Bass Fishing 2002” is a map guide of bass streams, fishing, angling information and regulations for Missouri. It, too, is an easy-to-use 4x9 format. It’s free! And it will better your smallmouth fishing in streams.

It’s available at the Southwest Regional office at 2630 N. Mayfair, Springfield, Mo. 65803, phone 895-6880, and at the Springfield Conservation Nature Center at 888-4237.

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