• Missouri "No Cull" Rule

    The “no cull” rule as it relates to summer black bass tournaments was put in place to minimize the amount of mortality that occurs when bass undergo stress from being held in a livewell for extended periods of time, followed by stress from the weigh-in procedures. Numerous research tournaments, including two held in Missouri, indicate that even though most fish may swim away from a weigh-in, the delayed mortality rate of tournament bass during the summer months is high.

    A study conducted in 2003 at Pomme de Terre resulted in a 50% mortality rate over a 7 day holding period. In comparison, a group of fish collected as controls with electrofishing gear, and held in the same pens for 7 days, experienced only 3% mortality.

    The regulations state that a fish is taken into possession if it is not released unharmed immediately. Basically, once a black bass enters a live well, is put on a stringer, or in a fish basket, it is in your possession and part of your daily limit, whether you eventually release it or not.

    During July and August, the no cull rule allows you catch, and retain, a maximum of 6 “individual” legal bass during a tournament day (just like non-tournament black bass fishermen), even though you are only allowed 5 fish at the weigh-in.

    So, once you have placed 6 legal bass in your livewell, you are done harvesting for the day. If, for example, you have five 3lb fish in your livewell, and you catch a 6lb fish, you can actually “cull” one of the smaller fish to get down to your 5 fish tournament limit. At this point you have reached your daily limit and are done harvesting fish, although you may continue to catch and release for fun. For arguments sake, let’s say that you continue to catch and immediately release bass while waiting for weigh-in time, and you land a 10 pounder.

    You CANNOT keep this fish since you have already reached your daily limit of 6 ( the 5 bass in your live well plus the small legal bass you had in your possession but culled with a larger bass).

    In comparison, from September through June, you may catch, and replace, smaller legal fish with larger fish throughout the day, provided that you do not exceed 6 fish in your livewell at any time.

    The exact wording of this rule can be found on page 49 (Section E, Rule 3 CSR
    10-6.405) of the Wildlife code issued March 1, 2010.

    Greg Stoner
    Fisheries Management Biologist – Lake of the Ozarks
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