Annual Missouri Trip, 2023

Started by gitano, May 05, 2023, 06:17:03 AM

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I'm still in Missouri, so this is just a teaser: We caught  at least 250 pounds of blue catfish. There is a slot limit for blue catfish on Lake of the Ozarks, (hereafter LotA). You can keep fish under 26" and over 34", but fish 'in the slot' between 26 and 34 inches in length must be returned to the water. We caught five fish over 34". One was 42".

Pictures at 11. (When I get back to Alaska on Sunday.)

Be nicer than necessary.


Sheesh! Forgot all about this thread! I'll get to it in the next 24h.

Be nicer than necessary.


I'm way late getting back to this, but better late than never I think. This will be my first 'big' post with pictures after "The Big Move", so there might be several edits.

To refresh memories: We decided this year to forego fishing for paddlefish/spoonbills. There were several reasons. The following are not necessarily in order of importance:
1) Much more crowded on the water during the last week of the paddlefish season,
2) Paddlefishing is work, which is not too big of a deal until you consider,
3) a) Can't keep the roe,
    b) Onerous regulations regarding catching and retaining,
    c) Most of 'us', (I like it), don't think much of the taste - not bad, but not great          either,
    d) Lots of waste - all the roe and all the "red" meat - is a big deal to me.
4) Jug-lining for big blue catfish is fun,
5) After the initial setup, the logistics of fishing isn't as costly, and
6) Pretty much the opposite of 1 through 3d above.

With that reminder of why we decided to go one week later, I'll commence with the story and pictures.

We figured that going right after the paddlefish season closed would be the best catfishing because:
1) Way fewer fishermen on the water,
2) The catfish could be found posting up right below the paddlefish cleaning stations. Given the law that says that you can't take the roe from the fish with you unless it's IN THE FISH, all of the roe is 'left at the lake'. Meaning thrown back in the water at every cleaning station. Like me, the catfish LOVE paddlefish roe! Therefore, we arrived on Monday, May 1st, the day after the paddlefish season closed.

While not 'deserted', there were very few other fishermen or boats on the water.  ;D The few we spoke with were very friendly. (Why that's more than a passing comment will be made clear later.) Back in January when I was down for squirrel hunting and ice-fishing, we had rigged all the jug-lines with new lines and hooks. Each of us had 5 jugs, and each jug had 6 hooks spaced roughly 4 ft apart. (We planned to be fishing in ~20ft of water.)  This allocated 30 hooks to each one of us. That in turn left 3 hooks we could still use. (Total of 33 hooks per person allowed in the water at one time.) In January, it had been our intent to set the jugs out and then go 'angling' for crappie, largemouth bass, stripers, wipers, and white bass. When it came down to the 'doin', we had neither the time nor inclination for 'anglng'.

Bait was mostly, but not exclusively, liver. In November, during the dear season, I had talked 'the boys' into salvaging the livers from the deer they shot. Why later pay for liver to use for bait? We also used live bluegill. We also tried herring. (My idea.) It turned out to be a logistic problem. I still think it would be good bait, BUT, 1) I left the 10 lb of herring I bought in Alaska, IN ALASKA, and 2) the herring we bought down there was extremely 'mushy' and wouldn't stay on the hooks very well. So liver, herring, and live bait. There was not clear 'winner' of those three baits.

The primary target was blue cats: Ictalurus furcatus, but we were also interested in flatheads, (Pylodictis olivaris), and channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus). Blue cats are the biggest, and to most people's tastes, the best tasting. As mentioned above, blue cats are managed not only by bag limits, but also by what is referred to as a "slot limit". A slot limit proscribes keeping fish whose length is within a length slot. In other words, you can keep fish below the lowest slot-limit length, and you can keep them above the upper slot limit length. You must return to the water all fish whose length is within 'the slot'. Furthermore, while the total bag limit is 5 fish per day, and the total possession limit is two daily bag limits, or 10 fish, only two of those 10 may be longer than the upper slot limit length. For blue catfish, the slot is 26 to 34 inches.

There were four of us, (plus John's brother Dennis joined us for a couple of days). The four of us caught our limits for a total of 8 fish 'below the slot', and two 'above the slot'. We caught some BIG catfish. ;D
Each of us caught our limits on our own jugs, but in the end, the meat was shared. Which brings up an interesting event. Since the regulations on this fish are fairly complex, AND since the regs on this body of water are different from EVERY OTHER PLACE IN THE STATE, I got on the phone and talked directly to the "Game Warden". Unlike Alaska - unlike in a BIG way! - the Missouri game warden was friendly and helpful! She even gave me her personal job-related phone number so I wouldn't have to go through "the main office" in order to get to her! We chatted a couple of times. Turned out, unbeknownst to either of us, we were in the same restaurant having dinner one of the nights at the lake! Very nice, very helpful gov't agent. The antithesis of their counterparts in Alaska.

Here's the first big - "over the slot" - fish we caught. I think.  That's Jim holding the fish, and Dennis in the background.Big Cat Jim-1s.jpgBig Cat Jim-2s.jpg

Here's another, on the dock where holding it up is a bit less perilous. John holding the fish, and sakorick (Hereafter Rick), in the background.

Big Cat John-1s.jpg

Here's John holding two of them up.
Big Cats First Two John-1s.jpg

And me doing the same:
Big Cats First Two Paul-1s.jpg

Those first two big blues and all of us. From left to right:
Rick, Me, John, Jim, Dennis.

Big Cats First Two with All of Us-1s.jpg

If I remember correctly, they weighed 28 and 24 lbs. But Rick can correct me if I'm wrong.

Here's a sequence of John releasing a 'slotter'. Too small and too big to keep.Catfish release-1-s.jpgCatfish release-2-s.jpgCatfish release-3-s.jpgCatfish release-4-s.jpgCatfish release-5-s.jpgCatfish release-6-s.jpgCatfish release-7-s.jpg

Here's how it looked early one morning as we headed out to check the jugs.Early Morning Jugs-1-s.jpg

I've got a lot of pictures yet to show, but this is getting long, so I'll end this post and start the next.

Be nicer than necessary.


This body of water is called Lake of the Ozarks. It's the upper of two reservoirs that were formed by damming the Osage river. It's primary use is hydroelectric generation, but it is a very important recreational site. At one time, Lake of the Ozarks was the largest reservoir in the US.

Because it exists primarily to generate electricity, and because generating hydro-electricity requires water to pass through the dam's generators, depending on the demand, the water level, (and flow), can fluctuate significantly. Like 3 to 4 FEET in a few hours. We set our jugs out in the 'right' depth - about 20 to 24 feet of water - the first day. Then they literally 'opened the flood gates', and the water level and flow, (remember, this is actually a river, not a lake),  increased dramatically. When we checked our jugs the next morning, some of them were 'gone'. LONG gone. We ultimately found all of them, but some were a mile downstream! This is where the 'niceness' of the few boaters on the water comes in. At one point, some other jugliners, helped us find our errant jugs. Over the next couple of days, the water level went up and down like a teeter-totter!

Mostly we checked our jugs twice a day - once in the morning and once in the evening. That sounds like it leaves a lot of time for 'other stuff'. It doesn't. Each line had to be checked for fish and bait. If it had fish, the fish had to be boated, measured and either thrown in the live well, or back overboard. We caught few "slotters" - those that had to be thrown back because they were between 26 and 34 inches long. Consider the following: Each jug line had 6 hooks, each person had 5 jugs, and there were four fishermen. If it took 10 minutes to check a jug, that's 50 minutes per fisherman's jugs, times 4 fishermen equals 200 minutes or 3 hours and 20 minutes. PLUS transit time from one fisherman's site to another's. Plus fiddling around measuring the fish. Most of the time, we were ready for the next meal by the time we finished checking the jugs. And that first day, we spent hours hunting jugs down and repositioning them into shallower water.

The second day we actually did get some angling in where we docked the boat. We wanted to use some live bait. Catfish, BIG catfish, love to eat live fish. Especially bluegills. So we hung around the dock and caught bluegills to use for bait the next day. They caught fish.

Here's a picture of what ELSE we caught. A very pretty long-ear sunfish male in full breeding colors.

The place was swarming with great blue herons and Canada geese.
Great Blue Heron Art-1-cs.jpg

To give you an idea of the size of the water, and John's boat, here's a picture of launching. For those that might not know, that type of boat is called a john-boat. Has nothing to do with being owned by John. ;D
Here are some pics of heron, geese, and an immature bald eagle.

That's pretty much it for the fishing trip. We estimated that we kept about 200-ish pounds of fish. We each (5 of us) ended up with just shy of 20 lbs each. Not thinking I could get mine back to Alaska in the condition I wanted, I traded mine for some deer roast and pepper-sticks. ;)

However... that was hardly "the trip". There is before the fishing trip. After the fishing trip. Before the TORNADO. During the tornado, and after the tornado pictures to come.

Be nicer than necessary.