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Trout Numbers Down Statewide

There won’t be as many trout swimming in Missouri rivers this year. KSMU’s Michele Skalicky visited Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery to find out why…

Here at Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery near Branson, around 1.3 million trout—both brown and rainbow—are produced each year. Most end up in Lake Taneycomo where anglers can try their hand at catching them. Some are stocked into other MO trout management areas.But there won’t be as many trout coming out of the hatchery this year. That’s because last year’s heavy rains led to the deaths of thousands of trout here and at other hatcheries and trout parks in the state. Clint Hale is manager of Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery, which sits just below Table Rock Dam…

"They were generating a lot of water from Table Rock Dam. The water quality was poor due to all the runoff water. Our water here was pretty murky, full of parasites, warm water. The water got up to 66 degrees, which has never happened before in the history of this place."

Temperatures in Lake Taneycomo and at the Fish Hatchery usually range from the 40s to low 50s. When they rise above 58 degrees, egg production is impacted…

"As far as brood stock is concerned or the fish that you're taking eggs from, a lot of the eggs will end up blank or dead, and we were having problems in that way, too, but there was a lot of disease outbreak in both the rainbow and the brown trout last year."

Around 400,000 fish died at the Hatchery last year. Still, the Hatchery produced 1.1 million trout in 2008…

"We did produce a lot of fish but not like we should have."

It's estimated that stocking will be down 10% in most waters. Bennett Spring Hatchery near Lebanon and Maramec Spring Hatchery near St. James both lost fish to floods that compromised water quality and washed fish out of rearing areas. Clint Hale doesn’t believe anglers will notice the decreased number. He says, since they typically stock 80,000 trout each month, a 10% reduction likely won’t have much of an impact on trout fishing in the state.

For KSMU News, I'm Michele Skalicky.