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