Crappies in the 9-inch range at Lake of the Ozarks and Truman Lake may someday be tossed back into the water instead of into the frying pan.
The Missouri Department of Conservation is looking into raising the minimum-size limit from 9 to 10 inches at the giant reservoirs in the central part of the state. The measure is still in the proposal stage, and the state agency is still considering options.
But fisheries biologists say the move is feasible, based on recent studies that have changed the way fisheries biologists look at the dynamics of the crappie population.
“A lot of it is based on growth rates,” said Greg Stoner, who manages Lake of the Ozarks for the Department of Conservation. “We’ve found that growth rates at these two reservoirs is much better than we had thought.
“We’ve found that it only takes two to three years for a crappie to reach 9 inches at Lake of the Ozarks.”
Considering that the crappie’s lifespan is eight to nine years in Lake of the Ozarks and Truman, again much longer than originally thought, the 10-inch minimum length limit would be justified, Stoner said.