2009 Show-Me State Fishing Calendar
September 30, 2010
Don't let time, distance or seasonal changes cramp your fishing style this year. Here's your year-round guide to rod-bending action all over Missouri in 2009! (Feb 2009)
The Show-Me State has no shortage of great fishing throughout the year. Whether you're looking for cold-water trout, hot summer panfish or big bucketmouths, we have it all.
Here's where -- and when -- you'll find great fishing this year.
Bluegills, Mozingo Lake
Part of Mozingo Lake Park, this lake is booming with panfish. Bluegills in the 8- to 9-inch range are abundant and willing biters. Mozingo is still in its new-lake phase and should be fertile with a good bluegill population for several years to come.
Manmade brushpiles can be targeted with larval baits and small jigs.
Owned by the city of Maryville in Nodaway County, long, narrow Mozingo Lake covers more than 1,000 acres. Any of its numerous arms and coves can be loaded with big 'gills. Bank-fishermen can have their pick of spots along the 26 miles of shoreline. The eastern side contains a lot of private property, so access is limited.
A 12- to 15-inch protected slot limit on largemouth bass has benefited the bluegill population by thinning out the smaller fish. A Missouri Department of Conservation fisheries survey a few years ago found that about a quarter of the largemouth bass measured at least 15 inches.
Walleyes & Saugers,
Most of the fishing is below the locks and dams on open water throughout Missouri's stretch of the river. February and March are right at the top of the hot bite.
Jig right on the bottom in water as deep as 30 feet. The flow dictates the weight needed, but starting at a half-ounce is a good idea. A colored jig with a live minnow or leech works well.
Walleyes average from 18 to 20 inches, but bigger ones are available. Saugers are running from 13 to 15 inches with some in the 18- to 20-inch range.
In the upper reaches of the river, good fishing will be found in pools 21, 22 and 24, but walleyes and saugers swim all of the pools. The fish will congregate in the deeper holes, current breaks or bottom-hugging cover and stay out of the main current. Some of these hotspots are no more than 60 to 70 yards wide and are easily missed.
In the central section of the river, look for fish in the deeper holes and around the wing dams, on flat, sandy river bottoms, near the mouths of inflowing creeks and in deep holes. Slack water near submerged structure, shoreline points and areas scoured out by high water can also be good.
To the south, walleyes and saugers are average-sized; anglers will do well in several of the pools. Jig-and-minnow combinations, shiny spoons and small spinners produce well.
Hybrids, Thomas Hill Reservoir
If the water's still cool, check both the north side of the state Route T bridge and the point at which the warmwater channel and the main lake arm meet. As the water warms and the shad scatter, so will the hybrids.
The lake's water is used to cool the power plant, the resulting warm effluent being discharged back into the channel. The two-mile-long channel concentrates shad, and the hybrids move up to feed on them.
The bottom structure at the lake end of the channel often causes turbulence. Anchor just outside the turbulence and cast into the moving water when hybrids are chasing shad. This can result in a fish on every cast.
As temperatures warm up, the hybrids abandon the warmwater discharge channel and move out into the cooler waters of the open lake. Hybrids usually remain in the channel in March and April where they are extremely vulnerable to angling pressure.
Shad-imitating baits are the best bets. Lots of flash in silver colors can produce hard-hitting bites that will tear up light tackle. Rat-L-Traps, spoons, minnow crankbaits, in-line spinners, spinnerbaits and jig-and-plastic combinations all produce well. These fish are topnotch predators, but they'll also take chicken livers, dead shad and chopped fish. Heavy-duty tackle is a must.
White Bass, Norfolk Lake
White bass are the name of the game on Norfolk Lake in March. Whites run upstream into the Pigeon, Brushy and North Fork of the White rivers and Bryan Creek in huge schools. The majority of the fish run in the Udall area, and the river stages and weather influence whether the run will be early or late. Things are usually well under way in March. As the white bass move back out into the lake in a few weeks they'll be found from the surface down to 60 feet deep.
The typical baits work, and since the lake is usually clear, fishing at night can mean scoring big. Toss crankbaits into the surface feeding frenzies when whites are chasing shad -- and hold on!
Some of the whites run up to 4 pounds. Small in-line spinners, crankbaits and other smaller lures score thousands of fish every year. The lake is clear so night fishing can mean scoring big. When the bass have chased shad to the surface toss crankbaits into the fray and hold on.
Trolling a three-way rig with small plastics or a spoon work well when the fish are suspended in open water. Deep gravel areas are good spots to try and you just need to experiment with the depth. Electronics will be a big help.
Most of the 2,200-acre lake is in Arkansas but Missouri residents no longer need to purchase a nonresident Arkansas fishing license to fish the Arkansas side. They do need the White River Border Lakes Permit.
Ramps are off Highway 24 near Calamity Beach and off Highway 551 at the Bridges Creek ramp. The lake lies in Fulton, Baxter and Ozark counties.
Perry County Lake
Perry County may be small, but it pumps out some big bass. As a rule, nearly a third of the largemouth bass in the lake are 15 inches or better, with a few bigger ones thrown in.
The 100-acre lake is shallow and fertile. Lakes like Perry County support a large phytoplankton base that, in turn, supports a tremendous population of panfish and bass.
More good news for visiting bass anglers: Local anglers overlook the bass in favor of panfish.
Plastic worms, floating Rapalas and downsized topwaters are productive along the weedy cover, gently sloping depths and shoreline cover in the evening. These educated bass have learned to avoid many standard bass baits. This is a good spot for trying out lesser-used offerings like a wacky worm, jiggling a floating crankbait on the surface or a lightly hooked night crawler.
Manmade structures to encourage the growth of aquatic vegetation have been dropped to establish weedbeds. These enclosures serve to concentrate small panfish that draw in the bass. Bass will also follow the shad in open water.
The lake is in Perry County just off Interstate 55 west of Perryville. Boat ramps are at the dam and on the upper end of the lake.
Rainbow Trout, Lake Taneycomo
Lake Taneycomo is a unique fishery in that it has the characteristics of both a coldwater and a warmwater fishery. The mile marker 22 section near the intersection of state routes 165 and 265 provides wading opportunities for flyfishermen and mile marker 1 near the dam in Forsyth offers 50-foot depths for boaters. When the Empire Electric Company power plants are generating, the water cools to create an environment more typical of a river. When it's all said and done, the trout fishing for rainbows and browns is excellent.
Trout can be taken year 'round at Taneycomo. A Trophy Trout Area is near the headwaters, with an artificial-only bait restriction in effect. Live bait can be used elsewhere.
Flyfishermen do exceptionally well. Anglers dropping small worms or larval baits pick up a lot of trout. Tiny spinners and jigs can be fished successfully in the shallow portions of the lake.
Lake Taneycomo covers over 2,000 acres.
Channel Catfish, Smithville Lake
Smithville can best be described as a multi-species lake, with channel cats taking their place at the top of the list. The lake offers big cats up to several pounds for the trophy hunter and lots of eating-sized fish for the frying pan.
The Little Platte River holds good numbers of cats along with the lake. Look for the catfish in midrange depths during the daytime and on shallow flats where they move in to feed after dark.
Most catfishermen just plunk their bait out and let it sit. A method picking up in popularity is to cast a stink bait or cut bait as far as possible and then let it rest for a few minutes. Slowly reel it in several yards and let it sit again. Cats detecting the scent trail will move in to intercept the bait. More water and more cats will be covered with this stop-and-go retrieve.
Typical catfish rigs and weights work well. A glob of night crawlers or cut fish make great bait and put out a lot of scent.
Smithville covers nearly 8,000 acres and has good ramp access. A special dock for disabled anglers is located at the Crows Creek access. The lake is about a half-hour drive from Kansas City.
Blue Catfish, Hunnewell Lake
The Asiatic clam is great table fare for hungry blues and has encouraged the population to produce 50-pounders.
It's no secret that Hunnewell Lake is one of the finest catfish lakes in the northeastern part of the state. Thousands of channels and blues are stocked every year. Some of the blue catfish are topping 50 pounds and sending a lot of ill-equipped anglers home with nothing but stripped reels and broken line. Baits that work include a mixture of cut fish and typical channel catfish baits.
Most of the catfishing is on the northern end of the lake. A lot of anglers never set foot in a boat and do very well right from the bank. If the cats aren't biting, shift gears to tap into the redears and bluegills. Some of the redears are topping 10 inches and the bluegills aren't far behind.
The lake covers 220 acres and is part of the Hunnewell Conservation Area in Shelby County.
Special regulations are in effect. Only rod and line fishing is allowed, and anglers are required to maintain their own stringers. There is a daily bag limit of four catfish with an eight-fish possession limit. Up to 30 crappies may be taken daily with a possession limit of 60. Due to concerns about the zebra mussel invasion, private boats have been banned from the lake. Rentals are available.
Largemouths, Table Rock Lake
Table Rock bass eat lots of bluegills, and that's something to keep in mind when selecting baits. The panfish population is good and baits that match the hatch are likely to be hit. Figuring out where the smaller bluegills are holding in the weeds and along the shoreline is key to determining where the bucketmouths are going to be.
Try near the resort and along the Morris, Stallion, Oswald and Virgin bluffs on the James River Arm for starters. Both the bass and the bait can be 20 feet down, and finding them is definitely a hit-and-miss proposition.
Cast spinnerbaits, deep-diving crankbaits and jig-and-pig combos onto rocky cover or shoreline wood, points and submerged drop-offs.
Bass can be hard to locate on a lake this size. Don't be afraid to take some local advice and contact any of the numerous bait shops in the area for current conditions and bass locations.
Several launch ramps are available.
Channel & Blue Cats
Little Dixie Lake
Put about 3,000 stocked channel cats and 500 stocked blues into a small lake and what do you have? Some of the region's best catfishing.
Little Dixie is more of a numbers lake than a trophy fishery. Most of the channel cats are pan-sized, though a lot of them are in the 22-inch range. The blues reach up to five pounds and are harvested prior to getting large though fish in the 20- to 40-pound class are taken fairly regularly.
Bank fishing is excellent if you're willing to spend some after-dark time for them. The jetties, dikes, shoreline areas near the dam and creek channels produce outstanding fishing. The northern end of the lake tends to yield more fish than other sections but the catfish are everywhere. Daylight fishing on Little Dixie may not be quite as productive as night fishing but it does put a lot of cats on the stinger.
Don't make the mistake of using tackle that's too small for the job. The bigger cats will tear it up. Little Dixie Lake is located in the Little Dixie Lake Conservation Area 15 miles east of Columbia next to Millersburg.
Bull Shoals Reservoir
A tough bite in the fall, Bull Shoals starts to pick up this month. Largemouth bass will be on old timber, rocks and deep points where you have to go after them with drop-shot rigs, one-ounce jigs, big spoons or anything else that can take bass from as deep as 50 feet. Start a lot shallower, but don't fear to ply the depths.
In unseasonably warm weather, look for bigmouths chasing shad up in coves and creek arms. Submerged logs, standing timber and shoreline depth changes are good bets.
There's a good year-class in the 16- to 17-inch range. The reservoir boasts good numbers of nice-sized bass and will provide good angling this year.
A White River Border Lakes Permit allows angling on both the Missouri and Arkansas sides of the lake.
Bluegills, Stockton Lake
Cold-weather bluegills readily bite throughout the winter. Finding the 'gills can be a challenge, but they're worth the effort. Fish in the 7- to 8-inch range are keepers, and there are plenty of bigger ones as well.
Winter bluegills can be just about anywhere. A good sonar unit can help locate deep structure that concentrates them. Submerged humps, brushpiles, riprap shoreline, sunken trees and either abandoned or in-use bridge pilings are places to check during the warm spells. Worms, crickets and other insects are tried-and-true baits. Ice jigs tipped with larval baits work well. The two best ramps are the Ruark Bluff ramp near Arcola and the Cedar Ridge ramp north of Dadeville. The lake covers 25,000 acres.