Introduction to Walleye Fishing Opportunities in Missouri
There is some fine fishing for Walleye in Missour in both lakes and rivers. We will cover, in depth, fishing in both lakes and streams, and will go into detail the specifics on many bodies of water. Additionally, we will discuss seasonal consideration when fishing for walleye in Missouri.
Primarily, the lakes you will want to consider are Bull Shoals Lake, Truman Reservoir, Mark Twain Lake, Pomme de Terre Lake, Smithville Reservoir, Stockton Lake, and Table Rock Lake. If your desire is to fish the rivers of Missouri for walleye, three you will likely consider are the Meramec River, Black River, as well as the Current River.
Lake Fishing for Walleye in Missouri
At Pomme De Terre Lake, walleye fishing is fair to good. The MDC has stocked the lake for some time, and there is limited natural reporduction that enhances these numbers. As of this writing (May, 2014, MDC Page), there was a 15" limit on walleye. Many of the walleye in Pomme De Terre do exceed this length limit.
Forty-one constructed brush piles distributed lake-wide are marked with green Fish Attractor signs. Brushpiles are typically placed in 15 to 30 feet of water at the normal lake level of 839 feet above mean sea level directly in front of the signs. Many other brush piles are not marked with signs. Maps showing the lake-wide locations, including GPS coordinates of each, can be obtained by visiting the Department of Conservation's website at and by contacting the Lebanon Conservation Department Office at 417-532-7612.Courtesy MDC
During late winter and early spring months, walleye that inhabit lakes concentrate near or in tributaries and along rocky points and banks in preparation for spawning. Stream fish will congregate in pools near traditional spawning shoals and other rocky structure. At this time anglers should fish slow moving stickbaits, shiners or jig or minnow combinations. During the period when fish move into shallow water, especially in clear water lakes and streams, they generally bite better at night than during the day.
In the late spring and summer months, walleye move to deeper water and structure. In large reservoirs, fish will often be found at or near the thermocline (25-35 feet). Rocky points, shorelines and drop-offs near submerged river channels are prime locations. In streams, deeper pools with submerged logs and boulders are a great place to begin your search. Summer months can provide some of the most consistent fishing patterns and action. It's during this period that walleye readily bite throughout the day and often best during the mid-day hours.
Walleye patterns typically become less distinct during the late fall and winter months. Look for walleye near deep water and structure, concentrations of forage items and any areas that receive significant inflow from streams and tributaries. Cooler water temperatures and the fish's reduced metabolism mean that anglers need to fish their baits and lures more slowly than they would during the rest of the year.
Walleye Fishing at Bull Shoals Lake in Missouri
This crystal clear lake is home to Missouri's record walleye. Many walleye tournaments are held at Bull Shoals in recognition of its outstanding walleye fishery.
Walleye fishing is generally good across this expansive Ozarks lake. Rogues, live bait, and jigs catch the majority of fish during the early spring months. In the late spring, summer, and fall, minnows and nightcrawlers rigged on bottom-bouncers, and crankbaits slowly trolled along flats and points catch good numbers of fish.
Spring time fishing finds the majority of walleye in Bull Shoals headed towards the White River for spawning. As temperatures rise fish head back to deeper waters and disperse across the lake. This is when electronics are helpful.
Walleye in Bull Shoals can certainly be caught from shore and off docks, but as the pressure increases the fish move away from pressue. Having a boat with GPS and fish finder can be immensely helpful on such a large lake. You might wish to look at hiring a guide if this is your first time on the lake. Afterwards, you can get after the fish with some firsthand knowledge. On the lake there are several venues that rent boats at very reasonable rates.
Walleye are stocked at Bucksaw, Long Shoal, Osage Bluff, and Berry Bend. Walleye fishing near these areas is the best bet on the lake.
Walleye make early spring runs up tributaries and concentrate in runs just below riffles. Summertime fish can be caught on gravel points using crankbaits, or slow trolling night crawlers, jigs tipped with minnows, or crankbaits over humps and long gravel points. Jigging spoons also work well. Main lake points on the lower Grand and Osage arms, the area around the mouth of the Pomme de Terre arm and KK Island, and the lower lake near the dam are good locations to try.
During hot periods of Summertime weather, walleye may stack up near dam area. This is perhaps due to Truman Reservoir warming faster than some other Missouri Reservoirs.
Walleye Fishing at Mark Twain Lake
Mark Twain Lake is a good lake to target walleye, and it's getting better all the time. Keep in mind that Spring is spawning season and the time of the year you'll have your best walleye fishing here. The walleye in Mark Twain feed primarily on shad. The tributary streams in the spring are the best place to fish walleye.
In addition to this information on Mark Twain Lake walleye fishing, you might wish to hire a guide your first time on this large lake. There are many other species of fish to target on Mark Twain Lake. A list of guides can be found at Mark Twain Fishing Guides
Smithville Reservoir Walleye Fishing
Smithville Reservoir receives more fishing pressure than any other large reservoir in Missouri due to its close proximity to Kansas City (about 20 minutes from downtown). Despite this fact, it remains one of Missouri's better walleye lakes and it just keeps getting better!
One of the favorite tactics is pulling crankbaits over points. Another tactic which may not occur to the average walleye fisherman is to fish the weeds. These stocked fish have adapted to their surroundings. Try trolling the 8- to 10-foot contours of points and humps. Once you do locate fish, stop and cast crankbaits.
Smithville Lake is a primary beneficiary of the Conservation Department's Walleye Initiative. The program, which began in 1998, has been adding millions of walleye to Missouri waters that best suit this popular species. The Department stocks walleye fry into Smithville at the rate of 30 per acre every even-numbered year.
Stockton Lake Walleye Fishing
Stockton Lake in Missouri produces more walleye and more walleye per hour of fishing than does any other Missouri Lake according to the MDC. This lake is extremely clear and is known as much for diving as for fishing. Although the walleye populations in Stockton Lake are self-sustaining, the MDC still is stocking walleye every other year. One of the great things about Stockton Lake besides the great walleye fishing, is the fact that it has largely escaped the commercialization that has degraded so many other large reservoirs.
One of the best tactics for fishing for walleye is to find the shad. Fishing is best when the shad are over a rough, rocky bottom. This is perhaps due to walleye hiding among the rocks and attacking young fish in the school. Using a jigging spoon, let the spoon down to the bottom, then rip it upward 10 feet or so, before letting it fall back on an almost slack line. The fluttering spoon looks like a crippled shad falling from the school. The walleyes usually hit as the spoon is descending. Consider fishing a shiny Hopkins spoon or something that looks like one. Fish spoons that weigh a half-ounce down to about 20 feet, If the water is any deeper, fish a 3/4-ounce spoon. You can catch walleye throughout the winter in 50 to 60 feet of water. A good place to launch is from the state park and fish toward the dam in the winter. Anyplace where you find shad will work. Look for fish off points and near bluff walls, especially over debris piles where rock has sloughed of the bluffs.
For more information: MDC Walleye Fishing Stockton Lake.
Table Rock Lake Walleye Fishing
Walleye are stocked heavily in the lake, and can be taken by trolling crankbaits, as well as casting jigs and live bait such as minnows or nightcrawlers. Walleye tend to hold in fifteen to twenty-five feet of water in the summer. Night time fishing is best during the warm months.
Areas around the dam, the Kings River Arm, and the James River Arm all provide good spring walleye fishing. The walleye population continues to increase in the James River Arm as a result of stockings from 2002-2005. These stocked fish have reproduced, creating a good walleye fishery up the James River. Fair numbers of legal size fish (18") should be present in 2011. In addition, supplemental walleye stockings in the James River Arm, the Arkansas portions of the Long Creek Arm, and Kings River Arm in 2010 should continue to enhance walleye fishing opportunities.
Fishing for Walleye in the Streams and Rivers of Missouri
Meramec River Walleye Fishing
While anglers target the bass, catfish, and trout, the Meramec's walleye population continues to flourish. The middle and lower reaches of the Meramec have excellent walleye habitat, with many deep pools and good spawning riffles. The walleye population varies somewhat from year to year, but even in the poorer years, there are plenty of walleye to make this a very sporting fishery.
The good walleye fishing on the Meramec begins around the mouth of Huzzah Creek, near Onondaga Cave State Park. While some walleye can be found upstream a considerable distance from this point, this is where the Meramec becomes large and deep enough to really hold a thriving population. In the first stretch of good walleye water on the Meramec, from the mouth of Huzzah Creek to Meramec State Park, it is important to target the deepest pools. This stretch of river is still relatively shallow in many areas, and so only the deeper pools are ideal walleye habitat. In this stretch of river, smallmouth bass are extremely abundant, and any walleye fisherman is likely to catch quite a few smallies by accident.
The next good stretch of walleye water on the Meramec is from Meramec State Park to the mouth of the Bourbeuse River. In this forty mile portion of the river, there are many deep, slow pools that form excellent walleye habitat. As in the rest of the river, there is an ample baitfish population, so the walleyes are kept very fat and happy. In this deeper, slower portion of the river, walleye numbers are higher than further upstream and they tend to grow larger. As is the case further upstream, walleye fisherman can still expect to accidentally catch smallmouth, as they remain abundant in this portion of th river.
The walleye fishing remains good from the mouth of the Bourbeuse River downstream about thirty miles to the Times Beach Access. This stretch of river is deeper and slower yet, and it begins to look less like a fast flowing Ozark stream and more like a large, slow-flowing Mississippi valley river. The walleye have less competition from bass in this stretch of river, and they can grow very large indeed. Nearly all of the river in this portion is deep and slow, so walleye habitat is just about unlimitted. The final thirty miles of the Meramec from the Times Beach Access down to its mouth at the Mississippi does not have an excellent walleye population. The river in this portion is very slow and muddy, and is more suited to catfish and carp than to walleye. Still, a persistent fisherman can find some scattered walleye and sauger in this area, and they are likely to be large.
One tributary to the Meramec also deserves mention as a walleye fishery. The Bourbeuse River is even less well known as a walleye fishery than the Meramec, but its deep, slow lower portion holds a decent population. From the Goodes Mill Dam downstream to its mouth, the Bourbeuse holds walleye. The best population is in the spring when walleye run up from the Meramec to spawn.
Walleye fisherman on the Meramec generally use live bait. Minnows, worms, and crayfish all work very well for Meramec walleye. For artificial fisherman, a wide variety of minnow imitating spinners, spoons, and crankbaits do very well. Long, slender Rapala Crankbaits can be particularly effective for both walleye and bass.
The Meramec's walleye fishery may be little known, but it can offer excellent oppurtunities to the fisherman willing to give it a try. The next time you're on the Meramec, don't forget about the walleye.
Black River of Missouri Walleye Fishing
The Black River is the best walleye fishing stream in the state of Missouri. The lower Black River, where the best walleye fishing is found, is a large, off-color Ozark foothills river, with many deep, rocky pools that are perfect walleye habitat. While the walleye numbers aren't quite as good as some Ozark reservoirs, it is not far off. The habitat on the Black River is absolutely ideal in almost every way, and the population shows it.
The good walleye fishing on the Black River is found below Clearwater Dam. The Black River above Clearwater Lake is a fast moving, shallow mountain stream, much more suited for smallmouth bass and sunfish than walleye. But below the lake, the Black River sprawls out into the Ozark foothills, slows down, and becomes deeper. The first twenty miles of water below the dam, downstream to the Highway K bridge, is where most of the good walleye fishing is concentrated. While this stretch of river is considerably slower and deeper than the upper portion of river, it is still clear and cool enough to please walleye. The rivers forage base consists mainly of minnows, suckers, and small sunfish, but crayfish also play a part in feeding the walleye.
The Black River's best walleye fishing generally occurs in the cooler months, from October through April. During this time, walleye bite well on live baits, including nightcrawlers, minnows, crayfish, and small sunfish. Artificial lures also take their share of fish, with deep diving crankbaits, spinners, and spoons being most effective.
The Black River offers the best river walleye fishing in the state of Missouri. This deep, slow river offers everything a wallleye and a walleye fisherman could want. This makes this one of the premier walleye fishing destinations in the state.
Current River Walleye Fishing
The Current River is one of the best walleye rivers in the state. Although the Current River is best known for its excellent trout and smallmouth bass fishing, the river's deep pools also holds an excellent population of walleyes. In this article I'll explain how to target this little known fishery on the Current River.
The good walleye fishing on the Current River begins where the Jacks Fork River meets the Current at the Two Rivers Campground. Above this point, the river is largely too fast and too shallow to support a good walleye population, although some can be found. The Jacks Fork River nearly doubles the size of the Current, and makes it deep enough to support a good walleye population.From this point downstream forty miles to the mouth of Big Spring, the Current River remains a cold, fast flowing Ozark Mountain river. Still, it gathers into deep pools often enough to suit the walleye. It is very important in this area to target the deepest water, as that is where most if not all of the walleye will be found.
The best walleye fishing on the Current begins at the mouth of Big Spring, the largest freshwater spring in the nation. By the time it reaches Big Spring, the Current is already one of the larger Ozark Rivers. After Big Spring doubles the size of the river, it becomes a very large river indeed. Even though below this point the Current River is slower and deeper, it continues to be a very cold and clear Ozark foothills stream. Walleye flourish in the reach of river from Big Spring to the Arkansas line. The deep, slow river is ideal habitat, and the fish grow large and an ample forage supply, which includes minnows, suckers, and crayfish.
Walleye fisherman on the Current River have success with a variety of methods. Deep diving crankbaits, especially Rapalas, may be the most popular option. Minnows, nightcrawlers, and live crayfish will also get you into walleyes. Some fisherman even catch walleyes with fly rods, using sinking lines. Woolly buggers and crayfish patterns work well.
The Current River's walleye population may not be well known, but it provides excellent sport to those willing to take advantage of it.
Walleye Fishing on the St. Francis River