Missouri teen breaks dad’s state record for longear sunfish

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Mo. – Thirteen-year-old Robert Audrain IV of St. Louis became latest Missouri state record holder for longear sunfish using “alternative methods.” That unseats the previous record holder, his own father.

Audrain was fishing from a private pond in Franklin County July 3 when he caught the 5-ounce fish. The previous record was caught by Audrain’s father on the same day in 2020 from the same location.

We were at the lake fishing all day and having fun,” recalled Audrain. “I was using my handline and after about five minutes of trying I pulled out the fish. I’m really proud of myself and pretty competitive so it’s cool I beat my dad’s record.”

The sunfish was weighed on a certified scale at MDC’s St. Louis Regional Office. It’s the seventh state record fish recorded in 2021.

Audrain said he will likely mount his record and place it next to his dad’s on their wall at home.

“We were actually joking that it would be funny if we had a new record on the wall each year that is an ounce bigger,” he said. “I think we’re definitely going to keep trying to break our records.”

Missouri state record fish are recognized in two categories: pole-and-line and alternative methods. Alternative methods include: throwlines, limb lines, bank lines, jug lines, spearfishing, snagging, snaring, gigging, grabbing, archery, and atlatl.


Missouri’s frogging season is near, get your permit today

JEFFERSON CITY Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) encourages the public to discover nature this summer during frogging season. Beginning June 30 at sunset through Oct. 31, those with a fishing permit or small-game hunting permit may frog for bullfrogs and green frogs.

The daily limit is eight frogs of both species combined and the possession limit is 16 frogs of both species combined. Only the daily limit may be possessed on waters and bank of waters where frogging.

MDC notes that daily limits end at midnight. Froggers who catch their daily limits before midnight and want to return for more frogging after midnight must remove the daily limit of previously caught frogs from the waters or banks before returning.

The public can go frogging with a fishing or small-game hunting permit, but children 15 and under and residents 65-years and older are not required to have a permit.

Those using a fishing permit may take frogs by hand, hand net, atlatl, gig, bow, trotline, throwline, limb line, bank line, jug line, snagging, snaring, grabbing, or pole and line. Youth fishing without a permit are limited to using a pole-and-line, gig, bow, crossbow, snaring, grabbing, and snagging.

With a small-game hunting permit, frogs may be harvested using a .22-caliber or smaller rimfire rifle or pistol, pellet gun, atlatl, bow, crossbow, or by hand or hand net. The use of artificial light is permitted when frogging.

The fun doesn’t have to end after catching frogs. Be sure to browse tasty recipes by visiting MDC online at https://short.mdc.mo.gov/Zxz.

Buy Missouri hunting and fishing permits from numerous vendors around the state, online at https://huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/permits, or through MDC’s free mobile apps, MO Hunting and MO Fishing, available for download through Google Play or the App Store.


Thousands apply for Missouri bear hunting permit

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri’s first-ever bear hunt is drawing plenty of interest.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Thursday that 6,335 people applied for one of the 400 permits the Missouri Department of Conservation will issue for a harvest of 40 bears. Winners of a random drawing of eligible applicants will be determined by July 1. The black bear hunting will be allowed Oct. 18-27. It was approved earlier this year by the Missouri Conservation Commission.

The bear population in Missouri has been growing. Officials now estimate there are 600 to 1,000 black bears in the state. Hunters can apply for permits at mdc-web.s3licensing.com


Police say turkey hunter accidentally shot hiker Saturday

WELDON SPRING, Mo. (AP) – Authorities said a hiker was accidentally shot by a turkey hunter in the St. Louis area on Saturday. St. Charles County Police Department spokeswoman Val Joyner said the shooting appears to be “a really bad accident.”

The shooting happened around 12:30 p.m. Saturday on the Lewis and Clark Trail in the Weldon Spring Conservation Area near Highway 94. The male hiker was taken to a hospital after the shooting, but his condition wasn’t immediately available.

Joyner said the hunter cooperated with police as they helped the Missouri Department of Conservation investigate the shooting.


Cassville man reels in paddlefish stocked at Table Rock in 1970s

CASSVILLE, Mo. – Joe Richter had a hunch Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) biologists would be interested in the small metal ring attached to the jaw of the paddlefish he had snagged, but he didn’t know the interesting story Tag S-777 revealed about successful paddlefish management at Table Rock Lake.

When Richter landed his 57-pound paddlefish on Table Rock’s James River arm in March and saw the tag, the Cassville resident recalled hearing about a paddlefish tagging program MDC conducted several years ago. His efforts to report his tag connected him with MDC paddlefish biologist Trish Yasger and that’s when things got interesting.

“She was excited about me catching a tagged fish and thanked me for calling,” Richter said. “She took all my information. Then a couple of days later, she called back.”

The reason for the call-back was that Yasger and MDC Fisheries Biologist Sara Tripp had a list of the 8,970 tags that were put on paddlefish in MDC’s 2015-2019 tagging project. And Richter’s tag number wasn’t on that list.

“Sara told me our tag numbers are five digits long. I assumed that I had made a mistake in recording his information, so I called him to get the correct number,” Yasger said. “He told me, no, the number was 777 and there was an S in front of the number. I knew that wasn’t a tag from our current project.”

The still-legible words “Cons. Dept.” on the tag’s pitted surface showed this was an MDC tag and indicated this tag could have been the work of former MDC Fisheries Biologist Kim Graham, who tagged many paddlefish in the 1980s and early ’90s.

“I had very little tag information from Table Rock, so I reached out to (MDC Table Rock Fisheries Biologist) Shane Bush in the hopes that he had some old records,” Yasger said. “Luckily, he found what we needed.”

Bush’s search through old records revealed Graham had placed Tag S-777 on a paddlefish at Table Rock in March, 1990. The size Graham recorded for that fish – 49 pounds, 40 inches in length – made Richter’s catch even more interesting. Those dimensions indicated this fish had been part of MDC’s initial stockings of 84,159 paddlefish fingerlings into Table Rock in the 1970s.

MDC’s paddlefish stocking at Table Rock that took place from 1972-77 was part of the agency’s strategy to maintain this unique fishing opportunity in Missouri. MDC biologists knew the construction of Harry S. Truman Dam in the early 1970s would block the paddlefish spawning migrations that occurred annually out of Lake of the Ozarks and would flood the paddlefish’s spawning grounds on the Osage River near Osceola. It was speculated that, if a paddlefish population could be established at Table Rock through stocking, that would provide clear evidence that MDC could maintain paddlefish numbers at Lake of the Ozarks and Truman through annual stockings. These efforts would also create a “spoonbill” snagging opportunity at Table Rock.

“Shane and I talked and, after looking at the stocking records and based on the size of this fish when it was tagged in March of 1990, we determined it had to be from the original stocking of 1972-77,” Yasger said. “That makes the fish 44-49 years old when Joe Richter harvested it.” In addition to being a unique find, Yasger said this is a good indicator that MDC’s paddlefish management methods are working.

“Paddlefish at Table Rock – actually at all three reservoirs (Table Rock, Lake of the Ozarks, Truman) – are thriving,” she said. “They have good growth rates, are healthy, and are in good condition.” Today, Table Rock receives paddlefish stockings in most years.

Richter’s tag reporting had meaning to Yasger that went beyond growth rates and stocking numbers. She worked with Graham in her early years with MDC and has great respect for the now-deceased biologist.

“Kim Graham and the other biologists before us laid the groundwork for paddlefish management in Missouri,” she said. “Thanks to all of their work, we have a thriving paddlefish population in our reservoirs for snaggers to enjoy today. I was fortunate to work with Kim on paddlefish before he retired. It is special to me to know that fish he tagged are still out there and occasionally, we get tags from his work that allow us to learn more about these amazing fish.”

She said Missouri’s paddlefish snaggers also deserve credit for the state’s spoonbill success.

“Thanks to all the snaggers for reporting their tagged fish,” she said. “We owe a lot to the snaggers for working with us and reporting their tagged fish. We work together to learn and to keep snagging great in Missouri.”


Fish have pandemics too

Human beings aren’t the only ones who deal with pandemics. Just ask a fish.

Or the team at the State Fish Hatchery in Farlington, KS. Manager Dan Mosier II tells us that diseases can spread every now and then.

While fish can’t wear masks, they can be socially distanced. If not contained quickly, disease can spread not only to other fish in the water, but to other facilities as well.

15-20 years ago, a particularly bad outbreak at his hatchery wiped out nearly every catfish fingerling at the hatchery.

Mosier tells us these happen both in culture and wild stocks, and that vaccines and antibiotics have been developed over the years.

Yesterday at the Hatchery, Mosier and his team brought in channel catfish yesterday that they were holding over the winter. Using their warm water fish culture, they are able to maintain and restore the sport fish population in the state of Kansas. They also have a program that works to repair damaged populations for non-sport species.

Along with looking out for fish, this work also helps those who love the outdoors.

Talking Pond Management for Wildcat Wednesday