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Oh Chute! Fish Diversity of Missouri River Side Channels

Presentation by Catlin Ames, Resource Staff Scientist with Missouri Dept. of Conservation

Catlin Ames will describe the efforts of sampling fish in shallow water habitat on the Missouri River, as well as the diversity of fish seen along the chutes of the lower Missouri River.

Pelican Island Chute

Pelican Island is one of the oldest remaining islands on the Lower Missouri River, near the community of Florissant. This photo shows the diversity of riverine and alluvial habitats in the chute. photo courtesy of Catlin Ames, Mo. Dept. of Conservation

Time and Place

Tuesday, January 12, 2016
7:00 pm

Les Bourgeois Vineyards Bistro
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Presentation by Catlin Ames, Missouri Dept. of Conservation

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

If you intend on coming early to purchase an amazing dinner at Les Bourgeois Bistro before the presentation, PLEASE call to make a reservation at: 573-698-2300 and…tell them you are with the Big Muddy Speaker Series!

Presentation is FREE and open to the public!

It’s easy to look at the channelized, dark turbid water of the Missouri River and suspect that nothing but catfish and carp live there, but in reality the Big Muddy is host to a wide diversity of fish. Historically, the River was a diverse braided channel over a mile wide, with chutes and island complexes. Fish adapted to this wide range of habitats and used the shallower, slower current areas for nursery and feeding. Today, alteration of the Missouri has eliminated 98% of the historic chutes and islands from Rulo, NE to the Mississippi confluence, and contributed to the decline of several endemic species.


These larval paddlefish were caught in a Missouri River side channel.
photo courtesy of Catlin Ames, MDC

Due to the loss of habitat along the River, the Army Corps of Engineers has responded by funding multiple habitat restoration projects, including the construction or modification of chutes (side channels that create islands along the mainstem of the river). To evaluate if these projects are helping native fish, reference data on the abundance and diversity of fish had to be collected. The Habitat Assessment and Monitoring Program (HAMP) was created to provide reference data of native small-bodied fish use of chutes.
Catlin Ames, Resource Staff Scientist with the Mo. Dept. of Conservation, will describe the efforts of sampling fish in shallow water, as well as the diversity of fish seen along the chutes of the lower Missouri River. The project he is working on, entitled “Establishing chute reference conditions for Missouri River habitat restoration projects”, is focused on collecting population data at four historic and restored island chute complexes – Hill’s Bend (Cranberry Chute RM282), Salt Creek Bend (Jameson Chute RM214), Pelican Bend (Pelican Chute RM16), Brickhouse Bend (Little’s Chute RM9.6).


  • 14020 W. Hwy BB, Rocheport, MO
  • Take I-70 to the Rocheport, MO, exit (Exit #115). It’s the first exit east of the Missouri River.
  • Head north toward Rocheport.
  • After about a mile, turn left at the sign for Les Bourgeois Bistro. Follow the signs to the Bistro. You will probably need to park in the lot above the Bistro and walk the trail down.
  • The presentations are held in upstairs in the restaurant. The restaurant is no longer open on Tuesdays but the bar is! You are welcome to bring your own food or snacks.

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Special thanks to Les Bourgeois Vineyards for giving us the opportunity to use their beautiful space overlooking the Missouri River. All speakers are presenting for free! Thank you all for sharing your knowledge with us!

The Big Muddy Speaker Series also takes place monthly in Kansas City and St. Charles.

The Big Muddy Speaker Series is partially funded by the Columbia Ecological Services Field Office (USFWS) and the Mo. Dept. of Conservation.