The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has partnered with the University of Missouri to conduct a largemouth bass study on Table Rock Lake. Anglers who reel in tagged fish are asked to contact MDC.
"This study will help determine where the fish are," said Mike Allen, MDC fisheries biologist. "During the study, we hope to locate the fish once a month, but if an angler catches a fish, we would like to know about it.
"Not only can that angler tell us the location where the fish was caught, but they can also tell us about the condition of the fish and give us other valuable information that can be used in the study," said Allen. "We only know the general direction in which the fish are moving. When a fisherman holds that fish in his hand, he can provide us with quite a bit of extra information."
Earlier this year, 60 legal-sized largemouth bass, which were collected from the Kings River arm of Table Rock Lake, were surgically implanted with radio tags. Legal-sized fish must be greater than 15 inches in length.
The radio-telemetry study is designed to track the tagged fish from May of this year through 2012. Each tagged fish will be located during daylight hours once a month. A smaller number of tagged fish will be tracked during a 24-hour period once every three months.
The study will provide information on fish behavior, including the daytime and night-time movements of the fish and distance travelled by the fish. The study will also collect data on habitat use.
"Basically, we are trying to monitor fish movement to see where these fish go during the different seasons of the year," said Allen. "When we do the overnight tracking, we will gather information on them every hour to find out where they move after dark and throughout the night."
Tagged fish included in the study can be identified by a radio-tag antenna, which will protrude out of the body cavity of the fish. Anglers will notice sutures near the fish's abdomen.
Fish will also be tagged with an orange tag near the dorsal fin. Each tag displays a five-digit number unique to that fish.
Anglers who catch tagged fish should call Allen or Shane Bush, MDC fisheries management biologist, at 417-334-4859 or email Bush at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fishermen will be asked to provide the following information: the number displayed on the orange tag; the length and weight of the fish; the location where the fish was caught; the overall condition of the fish; the approximate depth where the fish was caught; and if the fish was released or harvested.
Anglers are also asked to contact MDC if they catch a fish during a tournament and then release the fish into the lake at a new location.
"If an angler wants to keep the fish, they are welcome to do so, but we recommend they release tagged fish back into the lake so that they can remain part of the study," said Allen. "If they do decide to harvest the fish, we would like to get the tag back."
Tags can be dropped off at the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery near Branson.
"The fish are perfectly safe to harvest and eat, but this is a pretty big study so we really recommend anglers turn them back," said Allen. "We would like to get as much information out of this study as we can."
The largemouth bass study is part of the Table Rock Lake National Fish Habitat Initiative (NFHI), a project designed to maintain and improve fish habitat in Table Rock Lake. The NFHI project is a joint effort of MDC, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Bass Pro Shops, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other organizations.