That article was dated August 2011, and probably written as much as a few months prior to that publication date.
There has been quite a lot of discussion about the future of a Striper fishery in Bull Shoals (BS) Lake since that time.
First let's address the historical aspects:
It is a fact that the AR Fish & Game (AGFC) unitentionally stocked about 17,000 Striped Bass fingerlings (I think that was the size, and I believe the year was 1998 but not positive) that was the result of a communication error, thinking they were Walleye. Oops!
Over the years, Stripers have been caught in many different locations of the lake from Powersite to Bull Shoals Dams. There are very few fishermen who intentionally target the Stripers, but those who do and are very persistent are occasionally rewarded, as we periodically hear in the news. Stripers are difficult to locate or pattern consistently since they are very nomadic (remember their gentic roots are in saltwater) and can and will move great distances if they choose to.
What is difficult to understand or explain conclusively is where did the Stripers come from that today are the 20-45# range?
Are they part of the original mistakened stocking? Maybe. I doubt it seriously. I don't know if the state fisheries guys from MO or AR really care about that, I have not directly asked them.
There are multiple possibilities: maybe they are part of the original stocking, maybe some of the original stock has been successfully spawning despite the fishery lacking anywhere close to the required river length, maybe AR or MO has been secretly planting very small numbers of Stripers over the years to help control the Gizzard Shad population, or just maybe small numbers of Stripers (and Hybrid Stripers) have made their way thru Beaver, Table Rock and Powersite Dams during high water and flow years and ended up in BS Lake. Which do you think sounds most likely?
For a long time, I thought it was logical that small numbers could have been stocked for Shad control, which is a fairly common fisheries management practice in multiple states. However, the best Striper fisherman I know of on that fishery, who intentionally targets them and releases most of the ones he catches, claims that the source of those smaller Stripers is Beaver Lake during the high water years. That is his opinion.
It would be interesting to know the ages of the fish that are not in that original year class group. The only way to verify age is to extract the otolith (ear bone) and count the rings (similar to aging a tree).
So, what about the future of Stripers in Bull Shoals?
Several years ago, I contacted (can't recall who at the moment) the AGFC to see what changes they planned to make in their Striped Bass Management Plan which was dated 2002 and I believe it was a 5 year plan. I had heard that the fisheries guys in the field requested a regular stocking strategy to build an intentional Striper fishery. My notes indicate they requested 22,000 Stripers to stock each time, which I believe was to be every two years. That request was squashed at the administrative level, and has never been pushed to approval. Off the record, I was told that one of the primary opponents to the Striper fishery was Forrest Wood, the founder of Ranger Boats.
In conversations in recent years with AGFC folks involved in the Striper program they have highly encouraged me and other fishermen to speak their feelings about the Striper and Hybrid Striper fisheries in the state. They say their department gets a lot of public criticism about the potential harmful affects on their beloved LM Bass fisheries, even though MANY research studies in a number of states have found quite the opposite in most cases. But that discussion is for another day.
So, when the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) publicly introduced the concept of establishing and funding a Striper stocking program in BS Lake a couple of years ago, I was pleasantly surprised. Interestingly, they are proposing the stocking of 22,000 Stripers every other year, which is identical to the AR proposal.
The MDC and AGFC have communicated closely on this, given the MO and AR public a very long period of time to submit comments, held public info forums in Gainesville and Forsyth MO (not sure about public forums in AR), allowed more public input and probably double checking all their scientific data, and now they appear to be coming closer to making a final decision.
The latest I've heard is that there may be some discussion and/or a decision made at the MDC Commission regular meeting in March. I'm following this, and since the Commission met today they will have set a date and location for the March meeting.
If the Striped Bass Proposal is on their agenda for March, I plan to attend and request to address the Commission as a suppoter of the plan.
I'll post any follow up information that I think would be of interest to the Ozark Angler community.
(Sorry this was so long, but hope that it has been informative for those who are interested in the prospective future of the Striped Bass fishing in Bull Shoals Lake)