Giant spoonbill found in Lake Jacomo

As originally seen on mahoneyoutdoors.com

For one angler fishing in the weekly Lake Jacomo Bass Tournament, there was quite a surprise waiting when he headed off to his first spot.

Stephen Delgado left the main marina and headed to the northwest part of the lake to fish near some weed lines when he noticed a large fish floating in the water. As he approached, his first thought was that it was likely a giant catfish.

Delgado, as he maneuvers his boat for a closer look. Photo courtesy of Stephen Delgado.

“I remembered the state record channel cat was caught out of Jacomo, and caught a few channels here and there, but nothing huge”, Delgado remarked.

The big white belly came into view and he noticed fins that didn’t seem quite right for a catfish. When he pulled the boat up beside it, he was astonished to discover it wasn’t a catfish at all, but instead a massive spoonbill!

Lake Jacomo

Photo courtesy of Stephen Delgado.

It hadn’t been dead long because it wasn’t swollen and hadn’t started to rot. With no good way to measure it, he pulled the fish close to the boat and rested his 7 foot, 4 inch bass rod next to it for reference. It was almost the entire length of the fishing pole!

Photo courtesy of Stephen Delgado.

“The bill alone was probably close to 30-inches”, he said.

Not knowing there were spoonbill in the lake, Delgado decided to do some good old fashioned google searching and stumbled upon a story from the Independence Examiner decades ago. The article told the tale of a lucky angler who snagged a 100-pound plus spoonbill while bluegill fishing at Jacomo.

When asked about how the spoonbill got in the Lake Jacomo, local fisheries biologist, Jake Allman, indicated it was highly unlikely someone released it from another location like the Missouri River. He dug up some old records to see for himself.

“Twenty paddlefish were stocked in 1974 from fish reared below Jacomo in some hatchery ponds the county operated”, Allman stated. “Only one was stocked in 1975, and the MDC has never stocked them in Jacomo.”

 

Lake Jacomo

Photo courtesy of Stephen Delgado.

With a total of only 21 verified stocked paddlefish in the mid-1970s, the odds seem almost insurmountable that one could have made it this long with all the different factors affecting survivability. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says spoonbill, or paddlefish, can live up to 55 years with most fish having an average lifespan of 20-30 years. They can grow to over seven feet long and weigh up to 200 pounds.

Multiple witnesses, including one of Delgado’s friends, later returned with a scale and tried to hoist the fish out of the water. It was so heavy he couldn’t do it, but the scale was reading 90 pounds with the tail still in the water.

Photo courtesy of Stephen Delgado.

“To come across a fish like that and learn how few were stocked is truly a once-in-a-lifetime encounter”, Delgado commented. “The odds of it living that long and growing to that size seem astronomical. That fish could literally be the oldest fish in the lake.”

“That’s why I love fishing so much. You just never know what you’ll come across on the water”, he concluded.

 

 

Published in print (6/17/18) and online at the KC Star: http://www.kansascity.com/sports/outdoors/article213123114.html

Longview Lake Sturgeon

 

Photo courtesy of Michael Dayberry

Many have never seen a sturgeon in person, much less caught one. Those lucky enough to catch one usually do so on the Missouri river or some other ancient running body of water. So when a sturgeon is caught from a local lake like Longview, a thirty plus year old man-made lake in Lee’s Summit, MO, it’s worth taking a moment to ponder the situation.

First, sturgeon typically feed on the bottom looking for crayfish, snails, and other small bottom-dwelling creatures. So, catching this sturgeon from the marina three feet below a bobber with a minnow is impressive. The second fact we need to consider is that Longview Lake is a man-made lake that never had sturgeon stocked.

So how did one get in? There are two theories on how the rare fish came to live in Longview.

The first is that it was caught in the Missouri River and dumped in the lake. While this theory is possible, it’s unlikely because the sturgeon would suffer severe stress and probably die being transported to the lake. Plus, the estimated age of the fish is anywhere from fifty to one hundred years old (some sturgeon even live to be one hundred and fifty!). The fish could indeed be older than the lake it now calls home.

I know what you’re thinking.

“If the fish is older than the lake, it had to have been moved there.”

This is a good point; however, before the dam was built and water filled the area, a small river channel (the Little Blue River) ran through the now nine hundred and thirty acre lake. If you trace it far enough you eventually end up at none other than the Missouri River.

After a conversation with Jake Allman, the biologist for Longview Lake, we realized there might be a more plausible scenario. The sturgeon could have swam from the Missouri River, through the Little Blue River channel, to what is now Longview Lake. The rare fish most likely stayed in the river while the dam was built and rode the water up as the lake filled. This would explain how such an old sturgeon like this one made it into the lake.

It’s incredible to think about the life this old fish has lived. To make such a long journey and survive is impressive. It’s amazing to wonder, with so many fishing lines in the water at Longview, how he had not been caught sooner.

If you haven’t fished Longview Lake, it sounds like you should give it a try. You never know what you might catch…

Visit mahoneyoutdoors.com for more news about fishing and hunting topics around Lee’s Summit and Missouri.

Lee’s Summit Area Fishing FB group helps clean up around Longview Lake

Scroll through your social media home feed these days and you’re likely to see many “doom and gloom” posts about politics and everyday events. For some reason, it’s just hard to find positive news whether it’s on social media or even in the local paper. Over the weekend of July 21st, the Lee’s Summit Area Fishing Facebook group, a community of avid anglers, banded together and created a much needed reprieve from the negativity.

How it started

In late February 2018, the “Lee’s Summit Area Fishing” FB group was created to bring attention to local fishing opportunities in the area. The group started with the goal of providing updated fishing reports on a daily basis.

“You just couldn’t find much up-to-date, accurate info about the lakes here locally,” Payden Hays, co-founder of the group, said. “We wanted to create something that would bring people together and also help us all catch a few more fish without having to travel so far from Lee’s Summit.”

To Hays’ surprise, the group took off quickly and within a few months has already reached over 1,300 members. As membership grew, many posts came in each day about the fishing, but also about the unfortunate amount of litter that was present at local fishing areas like Longview Lake, Lake Jacomo, James A. Reed Conservation Area and more.

Kevin Cox, a member of the Lee’s Summit Area Fishing Facebook group, mentioned that even his seven-year-old daughter recognized the trash issue around Longview when he took her out there to fish from the bank.

“She was upset about all the trash around the dam at Longview,” he said. “I thought it was adorable. She knows better than to litter like that and she’s seven.”

When a seven-year-old notices the sad amount of trash present, it’s evident something must be done to combat the problem.

Plan of action

Luckily, some group members knew about an organization called MO Stream Team, a non-profit partly funded by the Conservation Federation of Missouri, which helps manage various teams of people across Missouri waters with activities like trash pick-ups, water quality monitoring, tree planting, and much more. After contacting MO Stream Team, the Lee’s Summit Area Fishing group was able to set up their very own team – the LSAF Stream Team. MO Stream Team provided trash bags, gloves, and other items necessary free of charge.

After some organizing, the group was ready for their first event, a trash pick up at Longview Lake on July 21st. Just under 20 members met at the Longview Marina parking lot ready to start cleaning up the area. They focused their efforts around heavily fished areas like the marina, the dam, and the lake’s spillway.

The results

In just over two hours, the team members had picked up 42 bags of trash that filled an entire trailer. The weight of the trash bags was estimated to be over several hundred pounds. While it isn’t a permanent fix to the problem, the group is confident their ongoing efforts will make a positive difference while simultaneously raising awareness of the issue.

With all the negative posts on social media, the Lee’s Summit Area Fishing Facebook group was happy to bring a positive news story to the local community, and plans on many more to come.

Visit mahoneyoutdoors.com for more news about fishing and hunting topics around Lee’s Summit and Missouri.

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Lee’s Summit Area Fishing is your best resource for learning about all things fishing in both public and private lakes around the Lee’s Summit Area. The newspaper can only tell us so much, so we hope to share everything we can to help others find success around Lee’s Summit area lakes.

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