Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Wisconsin Bass Find a Home in Missouri at the Big Muddy Refuge
Midwest Region, September 25, 2007
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Over 1,200 5-inch largemouth bass were stocked at the Big Muddy Refuge Overton Bottoms Unit in cooperation with Genoa National Fish Hatchery and Columbia NFWCO. Genoa hatchery generously donated and transported surplus bass from a mussel propagation project hundreds of miles to the Overton Unit in Missouri.

Wyatt Doyle of Columbia NFWCO along with Randy Stenberg (Big Muddy Refuge) transported fish hauled by Genoa’s Project Leader (Doug Aloisi) back to two scour holes to replace lost bass in an annual flood event on the floodplain of the Missouri River.

Largemouth bass grow very well in the two scour holes on the unit due to an influx of backwater nutrients and young of year fish brought in from the river each year. The abundance of food in these scours including large schools of small shad allow these areas to be over-stocked with the expectation of an over-abundance of food being replenished each year.

Each year the scours connect to the river through a small backwater slough allowing new food to enter the scours. However, about every 5 years the scours become inundated and bass move out into the river resulting in a loss of the stock and a need for reintroduction. With the recent invasion of Asian carp, it is hoped that as bass get to larger sizes they will aid in controlling the young of year carp that proliferate in these types of backwater areas when they connect but are not inundated.

Columbia NFWCO conducts annual surveys on these scours and will examine bass stomachs in the future to determine if in fact they can be used as a biological control for this species. Bass often exceed five pounds in these scours and are a recreationally preferred fish. It is not uncommon to observe a dozen anglers make the arduous mosquito infested trek back into these scours to harvest these fish.

This collaborative effort is an example of being creative in using the available resources within the Service to provide for endangered species, control invasive species and provide recreation to the public with minimal cost and effort.

Contact Info: Larry Dean, 612-713-5312, Larry_Dean@fws.gov
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