Best Fishing Spots in Missouri

Fishermen fishing off a pier at a lake in Missouri.
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Missouri offers a diverse panorama of fishing locales that cater to anglers of all types, whether you are on the quest for that trophy catch or simply relishing a peaceful day by the water. With its expansive range of rivers, lakes, and conservation areas, you are never far from a promising fishing spot. The state is particularly renowned for its bass and trout fishing, providing year-round opportunities for both novice and experienced fishers to enjoy the rich aquatic life.

Lake of the Ozarks, a prime destination for bass lovers, is noted for its winter jerkbait fishing, an effective technique to entice bass even in colder temperatures. If trout fishing is more your inclination, Missouri’s waterways are inhabited by species like Rainbow, Brown, Brook, and Cutthroat Trout—each presenting a unique fishing experience. Southeast Missouri’s streams and lakes are considered some of the best trout fishing locations, offering both natural beauty and abundant fish populations.

Lake of the Ozarks

At Lake of the Ozarks, you’ll find one of Missouri’s premier fishing locations. This massive lake, with its extensive shoreline and abundant docks, caters to both amateur and seasoned anglers.

Key Species:

Fishing Tips:

  • Start at the countless boat docks for largemouth bass.
  • During late May to mid-June, the bass fishing action peaks at this lake.
  • Explore the diverse habitats, including rocky bluffs and gravelly shores, especially when targeting crappie.

Location and Access:
Located in central Missouri, the lake is easily accessible south of St. Louis and north of Springfield.

Best Fishing Spots:

  • Upper arms for off-colored waters.
  • Middle lake area for a mix of depths.
  • Clear, deeper waters on the lower end for different fishing tactics.

Table Rock Lake

When you’re fishing in Missouri, Table Rock Lake is a prime location to consider. This expansive lake, covering more than 43,100 acres, is nestled in the Ozark Mountains near Branson, Missouri, and even extends into northern Arkansas. If you’re an angler looking for variety, you’re in the right place.

Popular catches at Table Rock Lake:

  • Bass: Especially known for its Bass, Table Rock Lake has spots like Table Rock State Park, Old 86 Park, and Dewey Shores that are excellent for shore fishing.
  • Catfish and Crappie: These species are also abundant here, providing you with diverse fishing experiences.

For those targeting Bass, Table Rock Lake’s reputation is backed by being featured on Bassmaster’s list of the top 100 US lakes and hosting high-profile competitions. Spring and fall are particularly fruitful seasons for Bass fishing.

Bluegill enthusiasts can also find quality fishing, with the best time to target them being late May. You can expect to find Bluegill in the 7″- 9″ size range in better numbers.

The lake’s management has seen continued efforts to boost fish populations, including the stocking of surplus walleye in the James River Arm in recent years.

Remember: For paddlefish, there’s a daily limit of two, and the minimum legal body length is 34 inches.

Truman Lake

Truman Lake, nestled in the Osage River basin of Missouri, offers you a top-notch fishing experience. It stands out as the largest reservoir in the state, with over 55,000 acres of water when at full capacity. This expansive lake presents a variety of fish species, ensuring that every fishing trip can be both challenging and rewarding.

Fish Species

You can cast your line for a diverse population of fish:

  • Crappie: Noted for their abundance, with both black and white crappie available.
  • Bass: Renowned for largemouth and spotted bass, providing exciting game for anglers.
  • Other Species: Catfish, bluegill, and walleye among others, for a well-rounded fishing trip.

Fishing Conditions

  • Annual Prospects for 2024: The prospects for this year are positive. Despite the impact of high water levels in previous years, fishing conditions have returned to favorable states, especially for crappie.
  • Seasonal Tips:
    • Spring: Ideal for shallow water fishing during crappie spawning season.
    • Winter: The warmer waters from Truman Dam can offer unique winter fishing opportunities.

Techniques & Baits

To enhance your chances of a successful catch, consider using local favorite techniques and baits which include:

  • Minnows and bobbers, particularly during crappie spawning in spring.
  • Various lures such as jigs and plastic worms for bass fishing.

Stockton Lake

At Southwest Missouri, you encounter Stockton Lake, a 24,900-acre gem with a reputation for exceptional fishing. Your angling expedition here promises encounters with a diverse range of sport fish, bolstered by favorable spawning conditions and robust gizzard shad populations.

Fish Species Available:

  • Black Bass: Largemouth and smallmouth bass are common.
  • Walleye: Noteworthy as some of the best walleye fishing in the Midwest.
  • Crappie: Plentiful, with spring and fall being peak seasons.
  • Catfish and Bluegill: Offering a satisfying challenge for enthusiasts.

The lake’s clear water and extensive shoreline make it an ideal fishing destination. You’ll find quiet coves and secluded shorelines, enhancing your fishing experience. It’s important to note that fishing is restricted in certain areas to preserve the lake’s ecosystem.

Fishing Tips:

  • Early Morning or Late Evening: Capitalize on these prime times for bass.
  • Walleye: Seek deeper waters, especially during summer months.
  • Crappie: Stake out near structure or cover, like downed trees or docks.

With a max depth of 105 feet, the lake’s varying underwater terrain creates an excellent habitat for fish. While you’re there, enjoy the beautiful scenery marked by an impressive 300 miles of shoreline. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a novice, the abundant fish populations and scenic backdrop of Stockton Lake make it an essential stop on your Missouri fishing journey.

Mark Twain Lake

When seeking premier fishing spots in Missouri, your itinerary must prominently feature Mark Twain Lake. Nestled in Ralls and Monroe counties, this expansive body of water spans over 18,600 acres, providing ample space for anglers to enjoy a tranquil fishing experience.

For aficionados of bass fishing, your best bets are during spring and fall. These seasons offer peak opportunities for catching largemouth bass due to their natural life cycles. Your strategic approach should include using suitable lures that mimic prey during these times.

If it’s crappie you’re after, aim for late April through early May. The crappie move to shallow waters, making them more accessible. Simple gear like jigs and minnows are the tools of choice during this window.

Here’s a quick rundown of the types of fish and optimal fishing times at Mark Twain Lake:

Fish TypeBest Fishing Time
Largemouth BassSpring and Fall
CrappieLate April through Early May

Additionally, indulge in the potential for white bass around windy points and submerged structures. For current conditions and potential hotspots, contacting the Corps of Engineers management office or consulting the latest statewide fishing reports can provide valuable real-time information.

To maximize your experience, consider local variations in weather and water levels, as these can significantly impact fish behavior. Plan your trip accordingly, and Mark Twain Lake may reward you with an unforgettable Missouri fishing journey.

Lake Taneycomo

Lake Taneycomo, situated near Branson, Missouri, is renowned for its exceptional trout and bass fishing. The cold-water lake is a prime destination for anglers seeking a rewarding catch.

Trout Fishing:

  • Brown and Rainbow Trout: Renowned for abundant trout.
  • Techniques: Trolling, jigging and shoreline casting.
  • Bait: Live baits like minnows and worms are highly effective.

When you’re targeting trout, remember that a trout permit is mandatory upstream from the Highway 65 bridge and for possession of trout lake-wide.

Bass Fishing:

  • Species: Largemouth and smallmouth bass.
  • Locations: Focus on shallows near the shore, especially from Bull Creek to Powersite Dam.
  • Size: Largemouth bass can reach up to 5 pounds.

Following the regulations, the daily limit for trout is four, with only one trout over 20 inches permitted. Your total possession limit is eight.

Table of Key Fishing Regulations in Lake Taneycomo:

SpeciesDaily LimitPossession LimitMinimum Size
Trout481 trout over 20 inches allowed
BassStatewide regulations applyStatewide regulations applyStatewide regulations apply

Bull Shoals Lake

Bull Shoals Lake, spanning the Missouri-Arkansas border, is a prime destination for diverse freshwater fishing. You’ll find over 45,000 surface acres of water here, nestled among a backdrop of rugged shoreline stretching nearly 1,000 miles.

Key Species to Catch:

  • Bass: Both largemouth and smallmouth bass thrive in these waters.
  • Walleye: A favorite among seasoned anglers, often found in the 18-20 inch range.
  • Crappie: Known for being plentiful, especially when using jigs and minnows.
  • Catfish and Bream: Also present and provide rewarding fishing experiences.

Here are some fishing tips for Bull Shoals Lake:

  • In early spring, focus on walleye with live bait or jigs.
  • Use minnows and nightcrawlers on bottom-bouncers during late spring, summer, and fall for several species.
  • For bass, try areas with clearer water using a variety of lures that mimic prey fish.

For an expert guided experience, you might want to hire a local guide. Seasoned professionals can take you to the best spots and provide insights on the latest patterns and techniques. Whether you’re planning a solo trip or a group outing, Bull Shoals Lake is versatile enough to cater to any angler’s needs.

Pomme de Terre Lake

In the southern Hickory and northern Polk Counties, Pomme de Terre Lake presents itself as a premier destination for anglers. You’ll find this reservoir around 50 miles north of Springfield, Missouri, offering a serene escape suffused with the opportunity for remarkable fishing experiences.

The lake, known for its muskie fishing, peaks during June, September, and October. When the water is between 60°F and 70°F, your chances of a successful catch are higher. Prepare yourself for patience; on average, it may take about 30 hours of fishing to reel in a muskie of any size and approximately 90 hours for one greater than 36 inches.

Notable tips for fishing in Pomme de Terre:

  • Monofilament or fluorocarbon lines: Ideal for bass fishing with a recommended test strength of 10-15 pounds, these lines balance strength with sensitivity.
  • Largemouth Bass: Although overshadowed by its muskie fame, the lake also hosts a healthy largemouth bass population.

Facilities and surroundings:

  • Pomme de Terre State Park: The park offers access to several points around the lake, enhancing your fishing expedition with convenient amenities.
  • Muskie Fishing: It’s one of the unique spots in Missouri that provides true muskie fishing opportunities, making it a must-visit for enthusiasts of the sport.

Remember, the lake’s name, French for “apple of the earth,” hints at the delightful experiences that await you. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, Pomme de Terre Lake has something to offer for your fishing endeavors.

Lake Wappapello

Within the southeastern region of Missouri, Lake Wappapello stands out as a prime fishing destination. Covering an area of 8,400 acres, this reservoir is known for its abundance of crappie, offering both black and white varieties. Despite a slight dip in the catch rate of white crappie over 9 inches from the previous year, your fishing experience in 2024 should remain rewarding.

Key Fishing Information:

  • Target Species: White Crappie
  • Expected Catch Rate: Fair for crappie over 9 inches
  • Popular Fishing Spots: Coordinates for promising locations can be found on a detailed fishing map.
Fishing Spot Coordinates


To enhance your chances, explore the lake’s diverse structure, finding spots that include artificial and natural reefs, buoys, and shipwrecks – all of which are known to harbor fish within a 35-mile radius of Lake Wappapello.

You can download GPS files pinpointing ideal fishing locations. These spots have been identified to improve your fishing experience significantly and to help you avoid the frustration of fishing the same unproductive spots.

Tips for a Successful Trip:

  • Keep an eye on local regulations to abide by size and catch limits.
  • Early mornings or late evenings often yield the best results.
  • For crappie, consider using live minnows or jigs.

When you visit Lake Wappapello, you’re also contributing to fish population management; by keeping smaller fish, you help balance their population, allowing others to grow larger. Remember to fish responsibly and enjoy the serene beauty of Lake Wappapello.

Meramec River

The Meramec River offers a diverse fishing experience, known for its abundance of fish species. As a skilled angler, you can expect to find a variety of gamefish, each requiring different fishing strategies.

Fish Species and Tips:

  • Bluegill: Opt for light tackle and small bait for better success.
  • Channel Catfish: Nightcrawlers and stink baits work well for these bottom dwellers.
  • Largemouth Bass: Use topwater lures or crankbaits near structures.

The river’s ecosystem supports plenty of food and sport-fishing opportunities. You may want to visit the confluence of Dry Fork and the Meramec, a popular spot known for its challenging access and rewarding catches.

Best Locations on the Meramec River:

  • The “Piles”: Downed trees create excellent structure and habitat.
  • Below Meramec State Park: Access to some prime fishing spots.

Remember to manage your expectations, as good fishing can vary with water conditions and seasons.

When to Fish:

SeasonSuggested Time
SpringEarly Morning
SummerLate Evening
FallThroughout Day
WinterWeather Permitting

Enjoy the scenic beauty of the Meramec River while you cast your line, potentially bringing in a rewarding catch for the day.

Shoreline vs. Boat Fishing

In Missouri, you have the luxury of choosing your fishing experience, whether it be from the peaceful banks of a river or the freedom of the open water on a boat. The key to a successful outing lies in adapting your approach to your chosen fishing location—shoreline or boat.

Bank Fishing Strategies

When fishing from the banks, accessibility and local knowledge are your advantages. You’ll find numerous public ramps and marinas offering access to the waters.

  • Know the Terrain: Use a topographical map to identify drop-offs and structures where fish may congregate.
  • Seasonal Strategies: During catch-and-release season, look for shallow areas where bass may be released.
  • Local Ramps: Utilize public ramps to get close to the water if you’re carrying gear.

Selecting Fishing Spots from a Boat

Launching from a boat ramp allows you to reach spots inaccessible from shore. Consider using a marina’s services for easy access.

  • Marinas: Marinas often provide nearby fishing spots that are excellent for both beginners and experienced anglers.
  • Boat Ramps: Take advantage of multiple boat launching locations to explore different parts of the lake.
  • Navigating Waters: When on a boat, keep safety in mind and be aware of local water traffic and weather conditions.

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