Quantitative Evaluation of Paddlefish Sport Fisheries in Missouri's Large Reservoirs: Implications for the Management of Trophy Sport Fisheries


Lake of the Ozarks, Harry S. Truman Reservoir, and Table Rock Lake in Missouri contain important recreational fisheries for trophy Paddlefish Polyodon spathula. These three reservoirs were created by damming major rivers. Because of river modifications, Paddlefish natural reproduction is thought to be limited; subsequently, populations have been maintained through supplementation and harvest regulations. However, these fisheries have not been thoroughly assessed, and the applicability of management actions (e.g., supplementation and minimum length limits) has not been fully evaluated. Population simulations indicated that changes in the amount of trophy-sized Paddlefish and broodstock remaining were similar among the three reservoirs, with larger minimum length limits resulting in a greater proportion of mature and trophy-sized individuals. However, the number of Paddlefish that could be harvested at Harry S. Truman Reservoir and Lake of the Ozarks was much greater than at Table Rock Lake. These disparities are likely attributable to the amount of supplementation occurring at each reservoir. Based on unmarked fish from each reservoir, the percentage of sampled fish that were considered wild suggested that natural reproduction is occurring in Lake of the Ozarks (51.5%), Harry S. Truman Reservoir (83.9%), and Table Rock Lake (13.7%). Considering the Missouri Department of Conservation's desired management goals for maintaining trophy fisheries, a minimum length limit of at least 864 mm is suggested. If supplementation, natural reproduction, and harvest regulations are inadequate, reductions in Paddlefish abundance, size structure, harvest, and popularity could occur. One motivator for anglers to participate in trophy fisheries is the opportunity to catch a rare, unique, and large fish. Declines in a trophy fishery could cause economic losses to local areas and state agencies; thus, having an adaptive management plan in place to manage trophy fisheries is imperative.

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North American Journal of Fisheries Management