Meramec Trout

Ozark Fish & Other Water Critters

Fish are one of the main reasons Ozark tourism exists. Without the draw to lakes such as Bull Shoals, Table Rock and Taneycomo, it is unlikely the Branson show industry would have gotten started.

Maybe modern-day market analysts — contemplating Branson as a “Midwestern Las Vegas” — should spend a little more time contemplating the lowly black crappie or the freshwater drum.

An Ozark Water Critter List:

Black Crappie Pomoxis sp.

White Crappie Pomoxis sp.

Carp Cyprinus carpio

Freshwater Drum Aplodinotus grunniens

Rainbow Trout Oncorhynchus mykiss

Green Sunfish Lepomis cyanellus

Bluegill Lepomis macrochirus

Flathead Catfish Pylodictis olivaris

Channel Catfish Ictalurus punctatus

Black Bullhead Ameirus melas

Walleye Sander vitreus

White Bass Morone chrysops

Rock Bass Ambloplites rupestris

Spotted Bass M. punctulatus

Smallmouth Bass M. dolomieu

Largemouth Bass M. salmoides

Spring Peeper Hyla crucifer

Bullfrog Rana catesbeiana

Crawdad Astacidae sp.

River Mussel Unionidae sp.

Mudpuppy Nectarus maculosus


“Local residents of the White River valley fished primarily for food. Fishing was a fun and cheap way to put food on the table. Most fish were eaten fresh, but some were canned. Suckers especially could be cleaned, pressure cooked and then preserved in Mason jars. Sucker grabbing continues to this day as a method of catching large numbers of fish, particularly in the spring.

”Prior to the lakes, suckers were usually taken with gigs. Today, they are caught during the spring in the area creeks and rivers. Sucker grabbing refers to a unique angling method. A sucker grabber uses a very short fishing rod and sometimes just a rod handle. A stout line or cord with a fairly large weighted treble hook is attached.

“Some brave grabbers climb into overhanging trees or limbs”

“The grabber stations himself in the stream on foot or on a step ladder for better visibility. Some brave grabbers climb into overhanging trees or limbs along the shoreline. Others fish from horseback. Where there are long shoals, a method of ‘herding’ may be used. One person stations himself at the foot of the shoal and throws rocks into the water, ‘herding’ the fish upstream to a waiting grabber. Sucker grabbing is essentially sight fishing in which the angler is attempting to snag visible suckers.”

—page 9, The History of Fishing Table Rock Lake, by Tom Koob

Plate 1. Meramec Trout. February 21, 2009.

George Kieffer Artwork

Plate 2. George Kieffer Artwork.


Plate 3. A spiny sculpin hides in leaf litter in Roaring River near Cassville. February 23, 2009.


Plate 3. A crawdad sallies forth in the waters of Roaring River near Cassville. February 23, 2009.

chinkapin oak Eric Snow Angler

Photo courtesy of Eric Snow.

Angler Eric Snow

(Forsyth, MO) “I love the adrenalin of the tournament, the competitiveness, the excitement,” explains angler Eric Snow.

Snow grew up on a farm near Harrison, Arkansas and fished in creeks and ponds. However, it was not until an Fishing League Worldwide event in Branson that he considered going professional. “I was chatting with a guy at the Bass Federation booth and asked him, ‘How do you become a professional fisherman?’”

The answer? Join a bass club, go to the meetings, and start fishing.

“You learn so much,” explains Snow. “You pay your club dues but the tournaments are free except for splitting the gas money. Getting out on the water is the hard part if you don’t have a boat and with the club, that’s taken care of because you partner.”

“Anybody can get into fishing for fun.”

The key, relates Snow, is to find the fish. “If you’re not around fish, you’re not gonna catch fish. Water temperature, water clarity, what they are feeding on at the time, all of that you have to learn to predict where the fish are.”

Snow fishes tournaments regionally, including Bull Shoals, Table Rock, Stockton, Lake of the Ozarks and Lake Wilson, Kansas. “You enter a tournament and most of the time there’s a five-fish limit. You catch five and you continue fishing, trying to catch a bigger one. After an eight, nine hour tournament, you weigh in. Whoever has the five biggest fish by three o’clock wins.”

“To fish at the pro tour level, you’re not going to to do without sponsors,” he notes. “But it is addictive. There is a lot of comradery. There is a common bond with the guys you are fishing against. It develops into a network of friends.”

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August 18, 2014

Fish & Other Water Critters

Natural Heritage

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