Allowed Fishing Methods

Accepted Methods

  • Pole and Line
  • Trotline
  • Throwline
  • Limb Line
  • Bank Line
  • Jug Line
  • Ice Fishing Tackle (Tip-ups considered pole-and-line method)

Species and Regulations

  • Game Fish Handling: Must be returned to water unharmed if not hooked in mouth or jaw, except legally taken paddlefish during snagging season.
  • Game Fish Species Include:
    • Goggle-eye (Ozark bass)
    • Warmouth
    • Northern Pike
    • Muskellunge (Muskie)
    • Chain Pickerel
    • Grass Pickerel
    • Catfish (except bullheads)
    • Black Bass (Largemouth, Smallmouth, Spotted)
    • Paddlefish (Spoonbill)
    • Crappie
    • White Bass, Yellow Bass, Striped Bass
    • Trout
    • Walleye
    • Sauger
    • Shovelnose Sturgeon

Allowed Alternate Methods

  • Permitted for Certain Species: Paddlefish (snagging/grabbing only) and Nongame Fish
  • Nongame Fish Include:
    • Bluegill
    • Green Sunfish
    • Carp
    • Carpsuckers
    • Suckers
    • Buffalo
    • Drum
    • Gar
    • All other non-game species

Permitted Alternate Methods:

  • Bow
  • Crossbow
  • Gig
  • Atlatl
  • Snare
  • Underwater Spearfishing
  • Snagging
  • Grabbing

Regulations and Restrictions

  • Labeling Requirements: Additional poles must bear full name and address or Conservation Number if exceeding three poles (or two on Mississippi River).
  • Maximum Hooks: Limited to 33 hooks at one time (50 on Mississippi River).
  • Trotline Hooks: Must be staged at least 2 feet apart and attended or removed every 24 hours.
  • Prohibited Methods: No explosives, poisons, chemicals, electrical equipment, or spearguns. Attempting to take fish by hand or abandoning edible portions of fish is illegal.
  • Fish Traps: Fish traps, except live-bait traps, are prohibited.
  • Labels on Traps and Lines: Name and address or Conservation Number required on live-bait traps, lines, and live boxes.
  • Use of Lights: Artificial lights permitted above water surface, underwater lights allowed for pole and line fishing or bowfishing on impoundments.

Conservation Area Regulations

Before Fishing

  • Search Places to Go: Access conservation area-specific information prior to fishing.

Special Waterbody Regulations

Special Fishing Restrictions

  • Check Specific Waterbodies: Special regulations may apply to particular waterbodies.
  • Always Verify: Ensure compliance with regulations before fishing in any waterbody.

See Special Waterbody Fishing Regulations Section

  • For detailed information on specific waterbody regulations, refer to the designated section.

St. Louis Region Special Fishing Regulations

Statewide regulations are applicable for all St. Louis area lakes, with exceptions noted below. Always check posted regulation signs at the lakes before fishing.

August A. Busch Conservation Area Lakes

Lake Black Bass Daily Limit Black Bass Length Limit Minimum Catfish Combined Daily Limit Crappie Daily Limit Trout Daily Limit Muskie Daily Limit Muskie Length Limit Minimum All Others Combined Daily Limit
Lakes 1, 2, 15 Closed to public fishing. Reserved for aquatic education programs only.
Lake 12 Kids fishing only; daily limit = 2 fish combined
Lakes 3, 22, 23 2 15 inches 4 15 4 N/A N/A 10
Lakes 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 19, 20, 24, 26, 27, 30, 34, 36, 37, 38 2 15 inches 4 15 N/A N/A N/A 10
Lakes 21, 28 2 15 inches 4 15 4** N/A N/A 10
Lake 33 2 18 inches 4 30 N/A N/A N/A 10
Lake 35 2 18 inches 4 15 N/A 1 36 inches 10
Lakes 16, 31, 32 Catch-and-release, artificial lures only
Lake 8 Closed to fishing

St. Louis Urban Fishing Program Lakes

Lake Black Bass Daily Limit Black Bass Length Limit Minimum Catfish Combined Daily Limit Crappie Daily Limit Trout Daily Limit All Others Combined Daily Limit
Benton Park, Blackjack (Veteran’s Mem. Park), Fairgrounds Park, Fountain (Bellefontaine Park), Horseshoe (Carondelet Park), Hyde Park, Lafayette Park, New Ballwin Park, North (Willmore Park), North Riverfront Park, South (Willmore Park) 2 18 inches 4 15 N/A 10
Boathouse (Carondelet Park), Carp (Suson Park), Island (Suson Park), January-Wabash Park, O’Fallon Park, Vlasis Park 2 18 inches 4 15 4* 10
Jefferson (Forest Park), Tilles Park 2 18 inches 4 15 4** 10

MDC and Community Assistance Program (CAP) Lakes

Lake Black Bass Daily Limit Black Bass Length Limit Minimum Flathead Catfish Length Limit Minimum Catfish Combined Daily Limit Crappie Daily Limit Trout Daily Limit All Others Combined Daily Limit
Bee Tree Park, Sunfish (Spanish Lake Park) 2 18 inches 24 inches 4 15 N/A 10
Bilderback 2 15 inches N/A 4 N/A N/A 10
Bluegill (Bellefontaine CA) 2 18 inches N/A N/A N/A N/A 10
Community Club, Creve Coeur Park, Jarville (Queeny Park), Kluesner Moore, Preslar, Simpson Park, Skate Park, Spanish Lake Park, Upper Fabick, Westside 2 18 inches N/A 4 15 N/A 10
Fire, Prairie (Weldon Spring CA) 2 15 inches N/A 4 15 N/A 10
Koeneman Park, Walker, Wild Acres Park 2 18 inches N/A 4 15 4** 10
Lincoln 12 N/A N/A 4 30 N/A 20
Logan CA lakes, White CA lakes 2 12-15 inch slot N/A 4 30 N/A 20
Glassberg CA, Young CA 2 12-15 inch slot N/A N/A N/A N/A 10
Port Hudson 2 18 inches N/A 4 30 N/A 10


    • = Only 1 pole may be used. Use of chum is prohibited. November 1 – January 31.
  • ** = Only 1 pole may be used. Use of chum is prohibited. Catch and release. Flies, artificial lures, and unscented soft plastic baits only. November 1 – January 31.
  • N/A = Not available or no limit exists.
  • 12-15 inch slot = all bass in the 12-15 inch size range must be released.

Reciprocal Fishing Privileges

Fishing privileges on boundary waters shared by Missouri and an adjoining state are mutually agreed upon by both states. Anglers must understand the regulations applicable to the waters they are fishing in and ensure compliance with those regulations. It is crucial to be licensed in Missouri when fishing in Missouri tributaries of the Mississippi, Missouri, and St. Francis rivers. Fishing in tributaries of these rivers in a state where you are not licensed is prohibited.

Reciprocal Fishing Privileges

Properly licensed or exempted anglers from Missouri: Missouri River (Kansas, Nebraska) Mississippi River (Illinois, Kentucky*, Tennessee) St. Francis River (Arkansas) Des Moines River (Iowa)
May fish in the flowing waters of either state. X X X X
May fish in either state’s adjacent backwaters and shared oxbow lakes X X* X X
May fish from the bank or attach to the bank of either state. X X*
Must abide by the regulations of the state in which you are fishing, regardless of where you are licensed. X X X X
Must abide by the regulations of the state where you are licensed, regardless of where you are fishing. X
Must abide by the most restrictive of the two states’ regulations when fishing the other state’s waters. X X X X
  • For the purposes of reciprocal fishing privileges with Kentucky, the Mississippi River is defined as the main channel and immediate side or secondary channels or chutes. It does not include oxbow or floodplain lakes, or backwaters that extend onto the floodplain or up tributaries when the river level exceeds 33 feet at the Cairo, Illinois, gauging station.

For more information on adjacent states’ regulations and permits, contact:

  • Arkansas Game and Fish Commission: 800-364-4263
  • Illinois Department of Natural Resources: 217-782-6302
  • Iowa Department of Natural Resources: 515-281-5918
  • Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks: 620-672-5911
  • Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources: 800-858-1549
  • Nebraska Game and Parks Commission: 402-471-0641
  • Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency: 615-781-6500

Approved Aquatic Species List


  • Alligator Gar (Lepisosteus spatula)
  • American eel (Anguilla rostrata)
  • Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar)
  • Bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis)
  • Bigmouth buffalo (Ictiobus cyprinellus)
  • Black bullhead (Ameirus melas)
  • Black crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus)
  • Blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus)
  • Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus)
  • Blue sucker (Cycleptus elongatus)
  • Bluntnose minnow (Pimephales notatus)
  • Bowfin (Amia calva)
  • Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis)
  • Brown bullhead (Ameirus nebulosus)
  • Brown trout (Salmo trutta)
  • Channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus)
  • Coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch)
  • Common carp (Cyprinus carpio)
  • Cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii)
  • Fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas)
  • Flathead catfish (Pylodictis olivaris)
  • Freshwater drum (Aplodinotus grunniens)
  • Gizzard shad (Dorosoma cepedianum)
  • Golden shiner (Notemigonus crysoleucas)
  • Golden trout (Oncorhynchus aquabonita)
  • Goldfish (Carassius auratus)
  • Grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella)
  • Green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus)
  • Largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides)
  • Longear sunfish (Lepomis megalotis)
  • Longnose gar (Lepisosteus osseus)
  • Mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis)
  • Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy)
  • Northern pike (Esox lucius)
  • Orangespotted sunfish (Lepomis humilis)
  • Paddlefish (Polyodon spathula)
  • Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus)
  • Quillback (Carpiodes cyprinus)
  • Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)
  • Redear sunfish (Lepomis microlophus)
  • River carpsucker (Carpiodes carpio)
  • Sauger (Sander canadensis)
  • Shortnose gar (Lepisosteus platostomus)
  • Shovelnose sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus platorynchus)
  • Smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu)
  • Spotted bass (Micropterus punctulatus)
  • Spotted gar (Lepisosteus oculatus)
  • Striped bass (Morone saxatilis)
  • Threadfin shad (Dorosoma petenense)
  • Walleye (Sander vitreus)
  • Warmouth (Lepomis gulosus)
  • White bass (Morone chrysops)
  • White crappie (Pomoxis annularis)
  • White sucker (Catostomus commersoni)
  • Yellow bullhead (Ameirus natalis)
  • Yellow perch (Perca flavescens)


  • Calico (“Papershell”) crayfish (Orconectes immunis)
  • Freshwater prawn (Macrabrachium rosenbergii)
  • Pacific white shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei)
  • Red Swamp crawfish (Procambarus clarkii)
  • Virile (“Northern”) crayfish (Orconectes virilis)
  • White River crawfish (Procambarus acutus)

Do Not Harvest List

Endangered or Threatened Fish

Central Mudminnow

  • Umbra limi
  • Mudminnows are a small family of only six species and are most closely related to the pikes. This is the only mudminnow that occurs in our state, and it is rare, occurring only in a few marshy locations near the Mississippi River.

Crystal Darter

  • Crystallaria asprella
  • This pale, very slender darter is Endangered in Missouri. Formerly known from many river drainages in the east-central and southeastern parts of our state, it apparently now lives only in the Gasconade and Black rivers.

Cypress Minnow

  • Hybognathus hayi
  • Missouri’s Bootheel lowlands are unlike any other place in the state, and many of the animals and plants that live there occur nowhere else within our borders. The cypress minnow, like the habitat it prefers, is in danger of vanishing from Missouri.

Flathead Chub

  • Platygobio gracilis
  • This active, big-river fish formerly occurred along the entire length of the Missouri River. In the 1940s, it constituted 31 percent of all small fishes in the Missouri River! By the early 1980s, that figure was 1.1 percent. Today, it has all but vanished from our state.

Goldstripe Darter

  • Etheostoma parvipinne
  • One of the rarest darters in our state, the endangered goldstripe has exacting habitat requirements: It needs small, shallow, shaded, spring-fed streams with clear water and a low to moderate gradient. What it doesn’t need is siltation, pollution, channel restriction and removal of the tree canopy above!

Grotto Sculpin

  • Cottus specus
  • A rare fish adapted cave conditions, the grotto sculpin used to be considered simply a different form of banded sculpin. It has recently been designated an endangered species under the Federal Endangered Species Act. It's found only in Perry County, Missouri.

Harlequin Darter

  • Etheostoma histrio
  • In Missouri, this rare darter is found only in our southeastern lowlands. It lives in flowing streams and ditches with sandy bottoms among logs, sticks and other organic debris. It is State Endangered because its small numbers and limited range make it vulnerable to extirpation.

Lake Sturgeon

  • Acipenser fulvescens
  • The largest of Missouri’s three sturgeons is rare and endangered in our state. One way to identify it is by its conical (not shovel-nosed) snout. And despite its name, in our state this fish is almost always found in big rivers—not lakes.

Longnose Darter

  • Percina nasuta
  • The next time you are enjoying the waters of Table Rock Lake, remember the longnose darter, which used to inhabit the White River when it still flowed through that area. This is why it’s important to protect this Endangered darter’s few remaining streams from sedimentation and pollution.

Mountain Madtom

  • Noturus eleutherus
  • This small catfish is rare and endangered in Missouri. It has been recorded from only a few locations in the southeastern portion of the state.

Neosho Madtom

  • Noturus placidus
  • This endangered species is the smallest catfish in Missouri, where it lives under rocks in riffles or runs, in the clear water of Spring River in Jasper County.

Niangua Darter

  • Etheostoma nianguae
  • Two small, jet-black spots at the base of the tail fin distinguish this small fish from the more than 30 other darters found in our state. Known from only a few tributaries of the Osage River, this dainty and colorful fish is a nationally threatened species.

Ozark Cavefish

  • Amblyopsis rosae
  • This small, colorless, blind fish lives its entire life in springs, cave streams and underground waters. It has been declared Endangered in our state and as Threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Pallid Sturgeon

  • Scaphirhynchus albus
  • Similar to shovelnose sturgeon, but with a longer and more pointed snout. Bases of the inner barbels are weakly fringed, and the base of an inner barbel is less than half the width of the base of an outer barbel.

Redfin Darter

  • Etheostoma whipplei
  • The redfin darter is of the rarest darters in Missouri and is endangered in our state. It is part of a highly distinctive fish community living in the lower Spring River and its North Fork, in Jasper and Barton counties.

Sabine Shiner

  • Notropis sabinae
  • Missouri’s southeastern lowlands are home to a fantastic array of plants and animals found nowhere else in the state. The Sabine shiner is one of them—in Missouri, it’s known only from a short stretch of the Black River in Butler County.

Spring Cavefish

  • Forbesichthys agassizi
  • This is the only cavefish in our state that has eyes, however small, and whose body is yellowish-brown or brown; our other cavefishes lack eyes entirely and are pale and nearly colorless.

Swamp Darter

  • Etheostoma fusiforme
  • Darters usually prefer the swift, clear waters of streams and riffles, but this darter is different. True to its name, it prefers swamps and sloughs with no current at all. Rare in our state, it’s found only in a few southeast Missouri locations.

Taillight Shiner

  • Notropis maculatus
  • One of the rarest Missouri minnows, the taillight shiner is known only from a few localities in Southeast Missouri—in habitats representing the last remnants of low-gradient streams and swamps that once characterized that region.

Topeka Shiner

  • Notropis topeka
  • Currently found in only a few Missouri streams, the Topeka shiner is an endangered native minnow that has declined precipitously because of environmental pollution, siltation, and loss or alteration of habitat.

Live Bait Regulations

Live Bait Species

  • Included Species: Crayfish, freshwater shrimp, southern leopard frogs, plains leopard frogs, cricket frogs, and nongame fish.
  • Exception: Bullfrogs and green frogs can be used as bait if taken under season limits and methods.
  • Prohibited: Common carp, grass carp, bighead carp, and silver carp cannot be used as live bait but may be used as dead or cut bait.
  • Restrictions: Live bait taken from Missouri's public waters may not be sold or transported to other states. Game fish or their parts are not permitted as bait.


  • Permitted Methods: Trap, dip net, throw net, pole and line, or seine.
  • Trap Requirements: Must have a throat opening not exceeding 1-1/2 inches in any dimension and labeled with the user’s full name and address or Conservation Number. Must be checked at least once every 24 hours.
  • Seine Specifications: Not to exceed 20 feet long and 4 feet deep, with a mesh of not more than 1/2 inch bar measure.
  • Hand Collection: Live bait, except fish, may be taken by hand.
  • Crayfish Traps: Opening not to exceed 1-1/2 inches by 18 inches.

Length Limits

  • Release Requirements: Bluegill, green sunfish, and bullheads over 5 inches long, and other nongame fish over 12 inches long must be returned unharmed immediately after being caught, except when caught by pole and line.


  • Year-round: Live bait may be taken throughout the year.

Daily Limit

  • Combined Total: 150 crayfish, freshwater shrimp, and nongame fish.
  • Specific Limits: 5 each of southern leopard frog, plains leopard frog, and cricket frog.
  • Bullfrogs and Green Frogs: A combined total of 8, only from sunset June 30 through Oct. 31.
  • Unrestricted: Any number of goldfish and bighead, common, grass, and silver carp.
  • Purchased Bait: Any number of live bait obtained from sources other than state waters or licensed commercial fishermen, must be species on the Approved Aquatic Species List, and anglers must carry a dated receipt for the bait.

Other Species Permitted as Bait

  • Nongame fish of any size, except bowfin, if taken according to the non-game methods and seasons.
  • Mussels and clams legally taken by sport fish methods.

Possession and Length Limits

Daily and Possession Limits

  • Daily Limits: You may possess no more than the daily limit of any given species while on waters where daily limits apply. Any caught species in your possession count towards your daily limit unless immediately released unharmed.
  • Catch-and-Release Areas: In catch-and-release areas, fish must be released unharmed immediately after being caught.
  • Possession Limit: Twice the statewide daily limit. Fish must be kept separate from those of another person, and if left unattended, the container must be labeled with your full name and address.

Length Limit Definitions

  • Minimum Length Limit: Fish below a designated length must be released unharmed immediately after being caught.
  • Slot Length Limit: Fish within a designated length range must be released unharmed immediately after being caught.
  • Maximum Length Limit: Fish above a designated length must be released unharmed immediately after being caught.
  • Requirements: On waters with length limits, fish not meeting legal length cannot be possessed. The head and tail must remain attached while fishing.

Possessing, Transporting, and Storing Fish

  • Personal Baggage: Fish you catch can be possessed and transported as personal baggage with the required permit.
  • Storage: Fish may be stored, preserved, or refrigerated only at your home, camp, lodging, or commercial establishment. Stored fish must be labeled with your full name, address, permit number, fish species, and date stored.
  • Out-of-State Catch: Fish caught in another state by methods not permitted in Missouri cannot be possessed on Missouri waters.

Fish Measuring and Identification

Understanding Missouri's Regulations

To comply with Missouri's fishing regulations, it's crucial to accurately measure and identify the fish you catch. Here's how:

How to Measure a Fish

  • Total Length: Measure from the tip of the snout to the end of the tail. Ensure the fish is laid flat on the ruler, with the mouth closed and the tail lobes pressed together.

Specific Measurements for Certain Species

  • Paddlefish: Measure from the eye to the fork of the tail.
  • Shovelnose Sturgeon: Measure from the tip of the snout to the fork of the tail. Note: Only shovelnose sturgeon are legal to keep.

Missouri Game Fish

Here are some common game fish found in Missouri, along with their scientific names and families:

  • Black Crappie: Pomoxis nigromaculatus (Sunfish)
  • Blue Catfish: Ictalurus furcatus (Catfish)
  • Brown Trout: Salmo trutta (Trout)
  • Chain Pickerel: Esox niger (Pike)
  • Channel Catfish: Ictalurus punctatus (Catfish)
  • Flathead Catfish: Pylodictis olivaris (Catfish)
  • Goggle-eye (Northern Rock Bass): Ambloplites rupestris (Sunfish)
  • Grass Pickerel: Esox americanus (Pike)
  • Largemouth Bass: Micropterus salmoides (Sunfish)
  • Muskellunge: Esox masquinongy (Pike)
  • Northern Pike: Esox lucius (Pike)
  • Paddlefish: Polyodon spathula (Paddlefish)
  • Rainbow Trout: Oncorhynchus mykiss (Trout)
  • Sauger: Sander canadensis (Perch)
  • Shovelnose Sturgeon: Scaphirhynchus platorynch (Sturgeon)
  • Smallmouth Bass: Micropterus dolomieu (Sunfish)
  • Spotted/Kentucky Bass: Micropterus punctulatus (Sunfish)
  • Striped Bass and Hybrids: Morone saxatilis (Temperate Bass)
  • Walleye: Sander vitreus (Perch)
  • Warmouth: Lepomis gulosus (Sunfish)
  • White Bass, Yellow Bass, and Hybrids: Morone chrysops (Temperate Bass)
  • White Crappie: Pomoxis annularis (Sunfish)

Always ensure you accurately measure and identify the fish you catch to comply with regulations and contribute to conservation efforts. If unsure, it's best to release the fish unharmed immediately.


Any fish you catch is included in your daily limit unless you release it unharmed immediately. You may not replace smaller fish in your possession with larger ones caught later. You need to make a keep-or-release decision as soon as the fish is caught.

There is one exception: if, from September through June, you are a participant in a bona fide catch-and-release black bass tournament (one after which all bass are released alive) that requires entrants to have a boat livewell with adequate capacity and a pump constantly adding fresh or recirculating water, the black bass you release unharmed from the livewell need not be included in your daily limit. At no time may the daily limit be exceeded.

Alabama Rig Regulations

Overview of Allowed Rigs

Anglers in Missouri are permitted to use Alabama, umbrella, and similar rigs with specific restrictions. Here's what you need to know:

  • Lure Limit: Rigs must use only three lures or baits. Any additional attachment points may include similar baits with hooks removed or hook-less attractors like spinner blades.
  • Hook Restrictions: Rigs with more than three wires and attachment points are allowed, but only up to three hooks can be used. Any additional attachments must not include hooks, or anglers can clip off the extra wires and attachment points.

Allowed Examples

  1. Modified Alabama Rig: Remove hooks from two baits to comply with the three-hook limit.
  2. Spinner Blades Addition: Add spinner blades to extra attachment points as attractors.
  3. Standard Fish Hooks: Use a collection of hooks found on sporting good racks.
  4. Manufactured Lures: Each lure used independently is considered one hook by Missouri Wildlife Code definition.

Prohibited Examples

  1. Multiple Hooks on Baits: Attaching five baits with hooks on a single line is not legal. Hooks must be clipped off or replaced with hookless baits or attractors to comply with the Code.

Maximum Poles and Hooks

  • In General: Anglers must not have more than three unlabeled poles and not more than 33 hooks in total.
  • Mississippi River: Limit is reduced to two unlabeled poles and not more than 50 hooks in total.
  • Concurrent Fishing: Not more than 50 hooks in total may be used, with a maximum of 33 hooks in waters other than the Mississippi River.


  • Pole and Line: Fishing method using tackle held in hand with up to three hooks attached.
  • Hook: Includes single- or multiple-pronged hooks and artificial lures with attached hooks. Multiple-pronged hooks or multiple hooks holding a single bait count as a single hook.

Handfishing Prohibited


Handfishing, also known as noodling, is a method of capturing catfish by hand, primarily targeting flathead and blue catfish during spawning. While some states permit this practice, Missouri prohibits handfishing due to its potential impact on catfish populations.

Risks and Regulations

  1. Impact on Catfish Populations: Handfishing's high success rate and focus on capturing larger, mature fish during spawning seasons pose a threat to local catfish populations.

  2. Vulnerability During Nesting Season: Catfish nesting in natural cavities are vulnerable during June and July as they lay eggs and remain on the nest, making them easy targets for handfishers.

  3. Research Findings: Studies indicate that legalizing handfishing could further endanger catfish populations, as it allows easy access to smaller streams where catfish nest, leading to over-harvesting.

Regulatory Measures

  • Wildlife Code Regulations: Flathead and blue catfish, valued as top game fish in Missouri, are regulated under the state's Wildlife Code to protect their populations.

  • Prohibition of Handfishing: Missouri prohibits handfishing to safeguard catfish populations, ensuring their sustainability and conservation.

Jug Line Regulations


Jug lines, a popular fishing method, are subject to specific regulations in Missouri to ensure responsible angling practices and environmental conservation. These regulations aim to maintain the integrity of the fishing experience while safeguarding aquatic ecosystems.

Key Regulations

  1. Daily Inspection Requirement:

    • Anchored jug lines must be checked daily to ensure the anchor's security and prevent unintended movement. Leaving anchored jug lines unattended for more than 24 hours is prohibited.
  2. Anchoring Standards:

    • Anchors must immobilize the jug effectively against wind, current, or strong fish movements. A typical anchor weight of 2 pounds is recommended for a 2-liter soda bottle under normal conditions. Heavier weights are advisable for larger floats or adverse weather conditions.
  3. Attendance Protocol:

    • Unanchored jug lines in streams require continuous personal attendance by the angler. In lakes, anglers must attend unanchored jug lines at least once per hour. Personal attendance entails close visual proximity to the jug line, ensuring prompt retrieval of hooked fish and compliance with conservation regulations.
  4. Labeling Requirement:

    • Each jug line must be clearly labeled with a durable tag containing the angler's full name, address, or Conservation Number. The Conservation Number, a unique identifier, can be found on fishing permits or Heritage Cards.

Importance of Compliance

Adhering to jug line regulations is crucial for sustainable fishing practices and ecosystem preservation. Responsible angling practices help minimize catfish waste, prevent jug-line litter, and maintain a balanced aquatic environment.

Porous-Soled Waders Ban

Didymo is an invasive alga that can lodge in porous-soled waders.

Porous-soled waders include shoes, boots, or waders with porous soles made of felt or any matted or woven fibrous material.

To keep didymo from invading trout waters, porous-soled waders are prohibited on the following waters:

Trout Parks

  • Maramec Spring Park
  • Bennett Spring State Park
  • Montauk State Park
  • Roaring River State Park

Lakes and Streams

  • Barren Fork Creek in Shannon County
  • Blue Springs Creek in Crawford County
  • Capps Creek in Barry and Newton counties
  • Crane Creek in Stone and Lawrence counties
  • Current River in Dent, Texas, and Shannon counties
  • Dry Fork Creek in Crawford and Phelps counties
  • Eleven Point River in Oregon County
  • Hickory Creek in Newton County
  • Lake Taneycomo and its tributaries in Taney County
  • Little Piney Creek in Phelps County
  • Meramec River in Crawford and Phelps counties
  • Mill Creek in Phelps County
  • Niangua River in Dallas and Laclede counties
  • North Fork of White River in Ozark County
  • Roaring River in Barry County
  • Roubidoux Creek in Pulaski County
  • Spring Creek in Phelps County
  • Stone Mill Spring Branch in Pulaski County

Black Bass Stream Restrictions

Year-Round Possession

  • Mississippi River: Black bass fishing and possession are permitted year-round.
  • North of Missouri River South Bank: Streams in this area allow black bass fishing and possession throughout the year.
  • St. Francis River (Downstream from Wappapello Dam): Year-round fishing and possession of black bass are allowed.
  • Southeast Missouri Boundaries: Streams within this defined area permit black bass fishing and possession year-round. The boundaries are delineated by specific highways and rivers, including Cape Girardeau, Missouri highways 74 and 25, U.S. highways 60, 67, and 160, and the Little Black River to the Arkansas state line.

Missouri Fishing Laws & Regulations

Catch-and-Release Period

  • Rest of the State: Streams outside the aforementioned areas have restrictions on black bass possession from March 1 to May 26, 2023. During this period, only catch-and-release fishing for black bass is allowed.
  • Map Indication: Areas highlighted in blue on the provided map signify regions where black bass can be taken from streams only between May 27, 2023, and Feb. 29, 2024.

Compliance and Awareness

  • Anglers must be mindful of the specified possession restrictions and catch-and-release periods to ensure compliance with regulations.
  • Checking local regulations and referring to the provided map can help anglers navigate black bass fishing restrictions effectively.
  • Responsible fishing practices contribute to the preservation and sustainability of black bass populations in Missouri's streams.

Possession Requirements for Sturgeon and Paddlefish Eggs

Extracted Eggs Prohibition

  • Paddlefish and Shovelnose Sturgeon Eggs: Extracted eggs from paddlefish and shovelnose sturgeon are prohibited from possession while on Missouri's waters or adjacent banks. Transporting these eggs is also prohibited.

Intact Sturgeon Requirement

  • Shovelnose Sturgeon: While on Missouri's waters or adjacent banks, shovelnose sturgeon must remain intact and cannot be harvested for their eggs.

Sale Restrictions

  • Paddlefish Eggs: Buying, selling, or offering paddlefish eggs for sale is strictly prohibited.

Commercial Fishing Restrictions

  • Shovelnose Sturgeon: The commercial harvest of shovelnose sturgeon is restricted in Missouri. This restriction is a result of a federal ruling aimed at protecting declining populations, particularly the federally endangered pallid sturgeon.

Federal Regulation Impact

  • Endangered Species Act Protection: Shovelnose sturgeon are treated as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act due to their resemblance to the pallid sturgeon. This federal ruling terminates their commercial harvest in areas where they commonly coexist with pallid sturgeon or where their ranges overlap.

Specific Restrictions in Missouri

  • Prohibited Harvest: In Missouri, commercial fishing methods cannot be used to harvest shovelnose sturgeon or shovelnose-pallid sturgeon hybrids in the entire Missouri River and the Mississippi River below Melvin Price Locks and Dam near Alton, Ill.

Live Bait Dealer Regulations

  • Any person, group or business that sells live bait, as defined in 3 CSR 10-6.605 of the Wildlife Code of Missouri, must register annually with the department as a live bait dealer.
  • Live bait may not be sold if obtained from the waters of the state except when taken by a licensed commercial fisherman from commercial waters. Live bait purchased or obtained from a licensed commercial fisherman or other legal sources must be species listed in the Approved Aquatic Species List.
  • Only the Virile (or “Northern”) crayfish (orconectes virilus) may be purchased for re-sale or sold for use as live bait. Live Virile (“Northern”) crayfish may not be imported into the state.

Live bait obtained as described in this rule may be possessed in any number.

Don't spread crayfish.


Paddlers and anglers often ask whether they have a legal right to use Missouri’s streams. The answer is yes … in some places and in some ways.

Missouri’s rivers and streams can be classified as:

  • Public, navigable — Large rivers on which commercial boats such as barges can navigate.
  • Public, non-navigable — Middle-sized streams that are capable of floating smaller boats such as canoes.
  • Private, non-navigable — Small streams that are not capable of floating even small boats such as canoes.

On private, non-navigable streams, adjacent landowners’ property extends to the center of the stream. Consequently, anglers and floaters have no right to use these streams. Fishing, wading, and boating are illegal unless you have the landowner’s permission.

On public, non-navigable streams, property lines are the same as they are on private, non-navigable streams. The difference is that although you are on private property, you have a right to use public, non-navigable streams for fishing, wading, or boating as long as you stay within the stream bed. The stream bed includes gravel bars that are submerged during part of the year.

The stream bed begins at the high-water mark. In practical terms, this is the point where trees and other permanent vegetation grow. Floaters and anglers need landowner permission to go beyond this point.

On public, navigable streams, property lines end at the high-water mark. The area inside the high-water marks is public property.

Although all of this may seem clear-cut, opinions can vary dramatically about how to classify a particular stretch of stream and where the high-water marks lie. Furthermore, permanent islands in public, navigable and public, non-navigable streams often are private property.

The local prosecuting attorney is your best reference to determine how a particular stretch of a stream is classified and where to find nearby public accesses. The county assessor’s office can tell you where the property lines are. When in doubt, always ask for permission from the landowner.

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The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.