Check Out the Missouri Smallmouth Alliance

Pop quiz! Do you eagerly anticipate feeling the cool waters of your favorite river or stream on your legs or the pull of the current as you paddle your canoe or kayak downstream on yet another fishing adventure?

Do you slow down and check out each creek or river over which you drive, and wonder how good the fishing might be?

Has your campfire cast your long shadow onto the trees behind you while you lean back and gaze into the Milky Way from snug gravel bar campsite along your favorite Missouri Ozark stream?

Have you turned off your headlamp, cast that black jitterbug into the dark, heard the splash and the line go slack and then focused on its “blop, blop, blop” while you slowly retrieve it?

MSA members float fish our Ozark streams in canoes, kayaks, jon boats and jet boats

MSA members float fish our Ozark streams in canoes, kayaks, jon boats and jet boats

Can you really ever get enough of these wonderful outdoor experiences? And, importantly, do you want to do whatever you can to help conserve and improve these resources?

If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, the Missouri Smallmouth Alliance (MSA) is your kind of group.

I invite those of you who, like me, are obsessed with chasing the wild and wily smallmouth bass in our free-flowing Missouri Ozark rivers to hook up with MSA. Our group was founded over 20 years ago by anglers and citizen conservationists just like you.

We’re the only statewide angling organization dedicated to smallmouth bass fishing and actively working to help conserve and improve the quality of our Ozark stream fisheries.

The MSA focuses on recreation, education, and conservation to work toward helping create world class smallmouth bass fishing right here in the Missouri Ozarks. We all love fishing for river smallies and annually sponsor several organized outings such as our February Freezeout, Spring Opener, Ozark Rodeo, Spotted Bass Round-Up, Fall Classic and participation in Operation Clean Stream and similar events. 

In addition to these club outings, MSA members routinely gather independently for day trips, gravel bar campouts and trips to top bronzeback destinations across the U.S. and Canada.

MSA works closely with the MO Department of Conservation on educational signage posted at stream public access points throughout the Ozarks.

MSA works closely with the MO Department of Conservation on educational signage posted at stream public access points throughout the Ozarks.

So, whether you’re new to the sport of smallmouth fishing or are just looking for some new fishing partners, membership in the MSA may be just the ticket. We know that once you’re hooked on fishing for river smallies you’re going to want to do your part to help conserve and improve our Missouri Ozark river and stream smallmouth fisheries so that future generations can enjoy these unique natural treasures.

Education and conservation go hand-in-hand. Do you know, for example, that it can take four to five years, on average,  for one of our river smallies just to reach Missouri’s statewide legal harvest requirement of 12 inches in length?

In fact, an 18-inch river bronzeback can be anywhere from eight to 10 years old and is truly a trophy worthy of being released to fight another day. MSA volunteers help educate the public about these facts by posting our informational signs at nearly 200 public stream access points across the Ozarks.

These signs, developed in conjunction with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), visually depict these slow growth rates while encouraging anglers to practice catch and release of legal-sized smallies to promote better fishing in the future.

The fine artwork on these signs was provided courtesy of renowned wildlife artist and long-time MSA member and River Hills Traveler contributor Al Agnew. We’re also an affiliate member of the Conservation Federation of Missouri and work closely with the MDC and the Missouri Stream Team program as Stream Team #509.

To further improve the overall quality of our Ozark stream fisheries, the MSA made a comprehensive proposal for updating Missouri’s statewide smallmouth bass regulations to the Regulations Committee of the MDC back in 2010. We suggested that they consider increasing the minimum length limit to 15 inches (as opposed to 12 inches) and reducing the daily creel limit to three fish (compared to six currently).

We also encouraged them to create additional special black bass management areas on high potential streams. These proposals have spawned an intensified dialog with fisheries managers as they further develop a more comprehensive smallmouth bass management plan for the future.

The MSA played a key role in promoting the liberalization of harvest limits on non-native spotted (Kentucky) bass throughout the Meramec River watershed where this invasive species continues to crowd out native smallmouth bass populations.

MSA President Matt Wier is all smiles when out chasing bronzebacks

MSA President Matt Wier is all smiles when out chasing bronzebacks

We also helped to shed additional light on the predation issue presented by the re-introduction and widespread expansion of carnivorous river otters, particularly to creeks and headwater reaches. MSA participated on the MDC’s Otter Advisory Committee resulting in the expansion of trapping season in the most heavily affected areas.

If you’re a smallmouth fanatic and believe that the Missouri Smallmouth Alliance is your type of group, I urge you join our efforts to conserve and improve our Missouri Ozark river and stream smallmouth fisheries. Your membership in MSA will help to ensure that future generations can enjoy our rich heritage of floating and fishing.

For your annual dues of just $20, you’ll receive:

• Our chapter magazine, the Bronzeback News. Published quarterly, it’s filled with great info on smallmouth bass fishing and conservation issues written by fellow Missouri bronzeback anglers.

• Updates about club outings and other smallmouth-related news .

• 6 FREE issues of the River Hills Traveler.

• 6 FREE issues of Outdoor Guide Magazine.

• And, while supplies last, a FREE copy of the late Chuck Tryon’s fine book 200 Missouri Smallmouth Adventures (a $20 value in itself).

The Missouri Smallmouth Alliance will be participating in the inaugural Traveler Summer Fest this July in Neosho, Mo. We look forward to meeting more smallmouth fans in the Southwestern corner of Missouri while hitting a couple of streams in the area.

Check us out on Facebook. If you like what you see, please visit www.missourismallmouthalliance.org and join today.

(Matt Wier is president of Missouri Smallmouth Alliance.)

caption for photo of guy in sweatshirt holding up smallie

“MSA President Matt Wier is all smiles when out chasing bronzebacks.”

caption for photo of guy in kayak with big smallie

“MSA members float fish our Ozark streams in canoes, kayaks, jon boats and jet boats.”

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“MSA works closely with the MO Department of Conservation on educational signage posted at stream public access points throughout the Ozarks.”

By Matt Wier

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