Little Missouri Fly Fishing
Little Mo' Management Plan Developments
July - 2007
We just received the Draft #5 from the AGFC Trout Program and have been asked to review it and give any kind of input! This is in keeping with the AGFC's plan to develop the state's trout fisheries in accordance with what the public wants! Most of the Plan is outlining what came out of the Managment workshops held back in the fall and winter of 2005/06 and the directions the AGFC feel they can take in achieveing everything we "asked" for.
You can look at the full Narrows Tailwater Managment Plan: here for a PDF file or here for a Word file if you want to ponder through the 19 pages! I'll leave that up to you as it is a very comprehensive plan which concerns much more than just the trout fishery. Catfish, walleye, smallmouth and canoeing and kayaking are also included in the "use" of the river. So you see there are many aspects to consider when it comes to what happens on this very popular little stream!
But what I was going to do for you here was to touch on the primary concerns that you as fly fishers, in particular, and trout or smallmouth anglers generally will be interested in! In other words a bit of the highlights! And if there's something in parentheses and italics, it's my personal commentary. Otherwise everything is pretty much as stated in the draft!
The Plan Mission Statement:
Improve fishing and boating recreation on Narrows Tailwater by providing more diverse fishing opportunities, improving habitat, and optimizing the balance among warmwater, coolwater, and coldwater fisheries. Critical to the success of this plan is increased stakeholder involvement and communication. This plan will be implemented through an open public process that adapts to changing conditions.
Purpose of the Plan:
The purpose of this plan is to establish specific goals and objectives, which will guide the future management of Narrows Tailwater. These goals and objectives are designed to address, as extensively as possible, the desires and expectations of the public as they pertain to the management of the tailwater's sport fisheries.
1. Develop an open and transparent management environment by improving communication with stakeholders and providing information to the public in a timely manner.
This includes holding five annual meetings by 2012 to provide stakeholders with current scientific information and the status of implementation projects, working with the Narrows Tailwater Advisory Committee, creating a website for the Little Mo' Tailwater Developments and creating signs for all access areas on the river.
2. Improve angling and boating access by maximizing use at existing facilities and creating additional access where possible.
Includes improving facilities at existing accesses for bank and wade fishing and "park & play" paddling. Possibility of acquiring land on the west side of the river for access and guaranteeing future access at the Old Factory Site. Explore the possibility of building an anglers foot bridge at Hind's Bluff (that would be huge!!!) Walking trail between Hinds Bluff and River Ridge.
3. Maintain a high level of angler compliance with regulations to aid in achievement of management objectives.
Basically covers regulations enforcement - Achieve a 95% angler compliance rate with regs! (In other words - nail the outlaws!) Conduct high visibility river patrols as much as possible and change the regulations to require a trout permit to fish the trout section from the dam to Low Water Bridge.
4. Protect, improve, and restore physical habitat by working with riparian landowners and partner agencies.
Improve the habitat in Year-round C&R section by increasing minimum depth to 1.8 feet. Redesigning the "Skinny Water Project" to include to include "paddlers play water".
(Keep in mind that the paddlers are only going to be looking to use the river on high water. Anything that creates better water for paddling is going to better the fish habitat as well - it's mutually beneficial! I do have my concerns about the increase of minumum depth, though. I fear another wier is being considered and personally I don't like the sound of that - just my opinion.)
Conduct an assessment of habitat in the entire tailwater and create a list of areas that need habitat improvement with priority going to the most accessible areas for wade and bank fishermen and paddlers.
(These next two are biggies!)
5. Fine-tune improvements from Narrows Tailwater Enhancement Project to further benefit smallmouth bass and trout fishery.
Objectives: To provide a minumum flow of 50 CFS through tailwater during hot season and maintain a maximum of 70° at Low Water Bridge. Both objectives should be attainable by implementing the "existing" pulse aggreement with the Corps of Engineers.
(Here's where the options become a little mind boggling... As I read it, there are 90,000,000 cubic feet of stored water available for "pulsing" as long as the lake is above 529'. The lowest we've seen the lake in recent years was that 533' in the fall of 2005! All of these options are for late summer situations.)
One option is to pulse a 6,000,000 cubic feet release as many as 15 times during July/August - only when there's been no generation for the past 48 hours.
Option two: Provide a 1 hour-50 minute pulse at 900 CFS as many as 15 times a summer - when there's been no generation for 48 hours. This would create less change in the lake elevation and the flows on the river would not be quite so extreme.
Option three: From June 15 to September 15 on any day that there is no gneration provide for a 1 hour release from generator #3 (cold water) at 900 CFS, up to 27 times a summer. AGFC suggests that this option will benefit both the trout fishery and the original (smallmouth) "1135 Enhancement Project".
Option four: From June 15 to September 15 on any day there is no generation provide a two hour pulse at 450 CFS from #3 up to 27 times.
(I'd like to physically see what the 900 CFS release vs the 450 CFS would actually do as each travelled downstream. Both will certainly have varying effects further down. I doubt that the effect would be very different in the first mile or so.)
6. Maintain and enhance coolwater and warmwater fisheries.
Stock Ouachita strain smallmouth fingerlings in spring in fall below HWY 27 down to HWY 195 to enhance the existing smallmouth fishery. The entire tailwater will remain "one smallmouth over 18" per day". Also stock catchable catfish annualy below HWY 27 and Ouachita strain walleye every three years below HWY 195.
7. Provide quality trout fishing opportunities while maintaining seasonal put-and-take trout fishery.
Continue to stock @ 87,000 11" rainbows from October to May. Creel surveys will continue through December 2009 and collected data will be used to determine when and where to to distribute stockings.
Occasionally stock "large" rainbows as hatchery space allows. (We've already seen that this season with the May load that had fish up to 20 inches!!!)
Maintain a catch rate of better than a fish an hour in the Year-round C&R Area.
Consider the extension of the Year-round C&R Area farther downstream provided there is more and improved access at River Ridge, Factory Site and Low Water and consistent cool water can be maintained throughout the tailwater. (In other words achieve Goal #2 and Goal #5.)
Develop the winter C&R Area between Hind's Bluff and Factory Site.
(To me, this would be based largely on if there can be any access to the west bank! Otherwise that stretch is practically protected as it is! I might make some other suggestions for this aspect... I'd rather see a Winter section between River Ridge and Hind's Bluff myself!)
By 2009 - Propose or develop a year round Brown trout fishery after evaluation of current experimental stockings.
(We need to see if there are any still around after a year and if there has been any signs of growth! Got to find them first!)
So! There you have the short version and pertinent parts. Like I said, if you want to see the entire document click on the links above. And by all means - post your comments and thoughts on the Little Mo' Message Board, contact me or the Drew Wilson - AGFC District Biologist and make sure they get your input!