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The Big Piney is one of Missouri's Ozark smallmouth gems.  It runs very close to the rather more famous and popular Gasconade, yet offers arguably as good bronzeback prospects.  Good access and water suitable for novice floaters makes it a great float and fish stream.  You can make it a day trip or find great sand bar camping opportunities if you like.  


You should find plenty of information here to have a great trip on Missouri's Big Piney River! 


Introduction to Smallmouth Bass Fishing on the Big Piney River


The Big Piney River is an excellent smallmouth stream. One of the first Ozark rivers to recieve special smallmouth bass regulations, this stream has long been viewed as a special asset for smallmouth fisherman. The Big Piney is clear, spring-fed stream with excellent fishing for heritage strain smallmouth bass. It would be hard to find a river with better scenery or smallmouth bass fishing.


Baptist Camp to Slabtown Access


The portion of the river from Baptist Camp to the Slabtown access is the start of the good fishing on the Big Piney. This part of the river is relatively slow and shallow, but there is still a good smallmouth bass population. The deep pools that are present along the river hold good numbers of smallmouth bass and some large fish as well.


Slabtown Access to Ross Access

The 15 mile portion of river from the Slabtown bridge to the Ross Access is the special smallmouth bass management area. In this part of the river, there is a 15" minimum length limit and a daily limit of one smallmouth bass. This portion of the river probably has the best smallmouth fishing on the river, with good numbers of fish and a fair amount of large bass as well. This is a good two day float with a night spent on a gravel bar-an excellent way to spend a weekend in the Ozarks.


Fort Leonard Wood Portion of Big Piney River

Below the Ross Access, the Big Piney enters the Fort Leonard Wood Military Base. On this stretch of river, access can be gained, but non-military folks have to jump through a lot of hoops to fish this stretch. Still, it is a beautiful portion of river with an excellent smallmouth bass population.


River Downstream from Fort Leonard Wood


Below Fort Leonard Wood, the river becomes easily accessible again. There is twenty miles of river, and it flows through the strikingly beautiful Devils Elbow area. This is the Ozark Plateau at its finest, with cliffs that rise hundreds of feet above the river and provide a beautiful spectacle. The water flows slowly through this stretch, but the fishing is quite good in the plentiful bluff pools. Smallmouth bass relate to rocky areas, fallen trees, and the lower ends of riffles. There are some very large bass in this deep poriton of the river, and you couldn't find a more beautiful place to float and fish.


Smallmouth Bass Fishing Methods on the Big Piney River


The fishing methods on the Big Piney are very typical. There is an excellent topwater bite in the mornings and evenings during the summer, and poppers, stickbaits, and buzzbaits work well at these times. When they aren't hitting topwaters, 1/4 ounce spinnerbaits, crankbaits, tubes, and plastic worms are all quite effective. Fly fisherman also do well on the Big Piney. Topwater bass bugs work well in the mornings and evenings. Streamers also work quite well. Crayfish and minnow imitating streamers usually catch plenty of fish. The Big Piney is certainly an excellent smallmouth stream, and it is worth the time of any angler, serious or casual.


Smallmouth Bass Fishing Lures and Baits on the Big Piney River

Discount Tackle (Opens in New Window)


  • Rebel Crawdad, deep diving

  • Spinnerbaits, 3/8 ounce to 1/8 ounce

  • Marabou Jigs (olive, White, and Black), 1/32 ounce to 1/8 ounce

  • 3 inch green tube baits, texas rigged*

  • Rooster Tail Spinner 1/24 ounce through 1/8 ounce

  • Rebel Pop-er

  • *Small Jitterbugs

  • 5" Zoom Curly Tail Worms (Green Pumpkin), Texas Rigged

  • Nightcrawlers

  • Minnows and Crayfish* (they work well, but you'll have to catch them yourself using a minnow trap)


Flies for Smallmouth Bass Fishing on the Big Piney River


  • Don's Crawdad #4-#10

  • Woolly Bugger (Olive, Black, or White) #4-#10

  • Clouser Minnow #2- #8

  • Deer Hair Bass bugs #2-#8

  • Muddler Minnow #4-#10

Smallmouth Fishing - Big Piney River
Big Piney River
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