10/19/18 Prospect Report: Current River (lower)

Associated Area

The 52-mile reach in Carter and Ripley counties from Van Buren to the Arkansas state line offers some big water for smallmouth bass, walleye, and suckers. Look for smallmouth bass in deep bluff holes or areas with large boulders or rootwads in the summer. In 2011 and 2013, a smallmouth bass tagging study was implemented in this section of the Current River. Legal sized (greater-than-or-equal-to 12 inches) fish were tagged near the dorsal fin. Anglers are asked to call the phone number on the tag to report their catch results. Once the tag is returned, a reward will be given to the angler in appreciation for their cooperation. The fish does not need to be harvested, simply clip the wire and release the fish. A report with study results was completed in 2015. Although anglers caught 56 percent of the tagged fish within one year, the harvest rate was only 14 percent, thus the existing statewide regulation is adequate for management on this stretch of river. In the fall, fish for smallmouth bass around rootwads or fallen trees in moderately flowing water. Spring time anglers may find the smallmouth bass in the faster water near rocky riffles. There is a good shadow bass (goggle-eye) population in this stretch of river. In 2017, a seven-inch minimum length limit regulation was put in place for goggle-eye on the entire Current River. Concentrate goggle-eye fishing around rootwads in slow moving water and along the edges of large mats of vegetation in the backwaters during the summer. In the spring and fall, look for goggle-eye among the larger rocks along the banks in bluff pools.

Walleye are present in moderate numbers and can be found in the deepest parts of the river, with the best population found in the Ripley County waters above and below Doniphan. The Missouri Department of Conservation has been working to boost walleye numbers by past stocking efforts and 12,000 fingerling sized walleye were stocked in 2016; the next planned stocking will be in 2020. Walleye in the Current River must be 18 inches to harvest and limit of four per day. Suckers probably make up most of the total pounds of fish in this section of the Current River. Hog suckers and several species of redhorse suckers are the most common. Summertime fishing can be excellent for these tasty species. A weighted line holding a number 4 or 6 size hook tipped with a worm can be very effective. Gigging these fish from the front of a boat at night is a very popular tradition allowed from September 15 through January 31 each year.