Two Missourians succeeded in quests for state fishing records. One says he aspires to a higher calling.
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) recently certified a gizzard shad (Dorosoma cepedianum) gigged by Hayden Crouch, Bradleyville, as the first state record for that species. Crouch, 12, was gigging with his family on Beaver Creek in Taney County on Jan. 15 when he stuck the 15-inch gizzard shad. It weighed 1.5 pounds. According to The Fishes of Missouri, the Show-Me State’s definitive text on the finned tribe, most gizzard shad weigh less than a pound.
Gizzard shad live in big, constantly moving schools in most of the state’s lakes and principal streams. This member of the herring family is one of Missouri’s most prolific fish. Their soft, flavorless flesh makes them more desirable as cut bait than as food. However, Crouch and his family had other reasons for wanting to catch a big gizzard shad. The species was on their list of fish for which they might reasonably hope to set a state record.
MDC keeps two sets of fishing records. One is for fish caught on a hand-held pole and line. The other category is for “alternative methods,” including gigging. The Crouches knew the alternative-methods record for gizzard shad was “open.” No one had ever bothered to apply for it. All the Crouches had to do was gig one and enter it for a guaranteed record. Hayden edged out other family members by gigging the biggest gizzard shad that night.
Derek S. DePew, of DeSoto, had the same plan when he entered a bowfishing tournament on the Meramec River May 21. He made a list of fish he might encounter during the outing and weights of current alternative-methods records for those species. He noted that the record for the highfin carpsucker (Carpiodes velifer) was open.
The Fishes of Missouri describes the highfin carpsucker as rare, with known populations only in the Meramec, Gasconade, Osage and White river systems. One distinguishing feature is the extremely long filament on the front of the dorsal fin.
DePew had done his homework, but he needed something more to land his record fish – lightning reflexes. A big highfin carpsucker was among dozens of fish that began leaping wildly around his boat when he cruised into a shallow spot on the river. Seeing the long filament on the fish’s dorsal fin, DePew recognized immediately what it might be and loosed his arrow, piercing the fish in midair.
Since the alternative-methods record for the species was open, DePew got an automatic record when Conservation Agent Chris Boyd verified the fish’s species. DePew set the bar high for future records. His fish weighed 1 pound, 6 ounces and was 15 inches long. According to The Fishes of Missouri, highfin carpsuckers seldom grow larger than a pound or longer than 12 inches.
Highfin carpsuckers prefer clearer, cleaner streams than their close and much more widely distributed relatives, the river carpsucker (Carpiodes carpio) and the quillback (Carpiodes cyprinus). Like the gizzard shad, the highfin carpsucker is known for jumping out of the water.
Now that he has a state record, DePew said he plans to focus his efforts on reducing the number of invasive silver carp in Missouri streams. On July 30, the Missouri Metro Bowfishing Club will sponsor the Riverends Silver Carp Roundup at George Winter County Park in Fenton. The tournament will run from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and will recognize only Asian carp. Contact DePew at 636-524-3016 or Robert North at 314-420-5439 for further information.
“I want to see if we can put a dent in the millions of invasive carp in our streams,” said DePew. “If enough people get interested in harvesting them, it could help. It can’t hurt.”
A list of current state records, plus entry the fishing-record entry form are available at http://mdc.mo.gov/fishing/reports/records. Information about invasive carp is available at www.mdc.mo.gov/node/10244/.