Smallmouth and rock bass are very popular with anglers in Missouri streams. However, research by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) shows that both species grow slowly and many do not reach a quality size before dying from natural causes or being caught by anglers.

A crew samples smallmouth bass populations on the Elk River in McDonald County. For MOCON story by Jen Girondo. Rick Horton drives the boat.

Smallmouth bass (pictured) and rock bass are popular catches for many Missouri anglers. Citizens can learn more about proposed regulations for these species at a series of open houses scheduled at select sites across the state.

As a result of research and angler feedback, MDC is proposing changes to fishing regulations for these two popular game fish that they believe would ensure the quality of smallmouth and rock bass populations and simplify regulations for smallmouth in MDC Special Management Areas.

For rock bass (also called goggle eye), MDC research shows a majority of anglers favor a single, statewide minimum length limit (currently there is none outside of special management areas). MDC is proposing setting this minimum length limit at seven inches. Anglers in south-central Missouri should note the rock bass minimum length limit will remain eight inches at MDC’s Rock Bass Management areas on the Big Piney and Eleven Point rivers.

For smallmouth bass, the proposed changes would maintain the current statewide length limit of 12 inches with a daily limit of six fish. However, all of Missouri’s Special Smallmouth Management areas would be changed to a 15-inch minimum length limit with a daily limit of one smallmouth bass.

Proposed regulations would also create a new Special Management Area on the Current River and expand the Special Management Areas on the Big Piney, Big River, Jacks Fork and Meramec rivers.

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