Smallmouth bass fishing in the Stream Black Bass Special Management Area between Scott's Ford and Bird's Nest should be good in 2015. Smallmouth bass are the most abundant black bass species present, and anglers can expect that most fish seen will be in the 8" to 12" range, and to see fair numbers of fish in the 12" to 15" range. Fish greater than 15” are also present in low numbers. The minimum length limit for smallmouth in this section of the Meramec is 15" with a daily limit of one. The area will also provide good opportunities for largemouth bass and goggle-eye. On average, one in three largemouth bass exceed the largemouth length limit of 12", and goggle-eye greater than the 8" length limit are found in fair numbers, with some even exceeding 9".
On the Meramec below the Smallmouth Bass Special Management Area, goggle-eye anglers can expect to encounter a fair number of legal fish in 2015, although the majority of fish caught will remain under the 8" length limit. Numbers of goggle-eye greater 7" in length have been on the increase since the minimum length limit regulation was put in place, with the indication that the number of legal 8” fish will continue to increase in future years. Large boulders, submerged trees, and vegetation alongside slow currents tend to hold the biggest goggle-eye.
Meramec black bass anglers can expect to see similar numbers and sizes of fish as in years past. About 1 in 5 smallmouth bass exceed the 12" length limit and a fair number are greater than 15" in length. One third of largemouth bass sampled were over the 12" length limit and a fair number were greater than 15" in length. A few largemouth and smallmouth greater than 18" in length are also present, indicating limited opportunities to catch large fish outside of the special management area.
Spotted bass numbers in Franklin Co are similar to past years, with about 1 in 10 fish being greater than 12". Redhorse Access, River Round Conservation Area, Choteau Claim Access, and Robertsville State Park all provide good access to the Meramec in the area where spotted bass are most prevalent in Franklin County. Opportunities to catch catfish are best in those areas in Franklin County as well, with several channel catfish and flathead catfish longer than 20" present.
Redhorse sucker species and freshwater drum are also common in the Meramec in Crawford and Franklin counties. Anglers can expect to see good numbers and sizes of these species in 2015. Gigging from September 15 to January 31 is a popular way to catch these species, but they can also be taken by hook and line all year long.
Pacific and Allenton area 2014 surveys showed impressive numbers and sizes of suckers (up to 27”), especially river redhorse and shorthead redhorse. Equally impressive were the channel catfish surveyed this fall, with strong numbers of 14”-22” cats, up to 25.5”. We found most channel catfish in fast water, adjacent to root wads and downed trees. We also saw fair numbers and good size quality of smallmouth bass and spotted bass, especially where there was moderate to fast current. We observed smallies up to 19” and spots up to 15”.