Introduction to the Niangua River and Its Smallmouth Fishing
The Niangua River is one of the best smallmouth streams in the state. While the Niangua is primarily known for it's excellent trout fishery below Bennett Spring, the smallmouth fishery is excellent as well. The river has miles of classic smallmouth habitat with many gentle riffles, and deep, oxygenated pools. It is a prototypical Ozark stream with above average smallmouth fishing.
Smallmouth Fishing from the Charity Access to the Big John Access
The Niangua arises in Southwest Missouri not far from Springfield. In it's upper reaches, it is a small run-off creek fed primarily by rainwater and very small springs. The twenty miles of river from the Charity Access downstream to the Big John Access is small water, and runs very low in the summer time. It is, however, quite secluded and offers some deep holes that hold smallmouth bass. The fish are not large on this stretch of river, but they are also not very pressured. It is very possible to have a very good day on this part of the river.
Smallmouth Fishing from the Big John Access to Bennett Spring
The 28 mile portion of river from the Big John Access to Bennett Spring offers more water and better smallmouth bass fishing. The water is usually fairly deep, and there is enough water for float fishing year-round. The smallmouth bass have a chance to grow quite large in this stretch of river with the depth combined with plenty of woody and rocky habitat for fish to hide in. This is also the most popular part of the river with smallmouth bass fisherman and recreational floaters, so don't expect to have the river to yourself, especially on summer weekends.
Smallmouth Fishing from Bennett Spring to the Prosperine Access
The eleven mile portion of the river from Bennett Spring to the Prosperine Access is much different. Bennett Spring cools the water significantly, and therefore this part of the river is primarily trout water. Still, smallmouth bass fishing can be quite good if you can keep the trout off the end of your line. The deep, slow pools that don't hold a lot of trout are often best for smallmouth bass in this stretch. In all, this is a good place for the smallmouth bass fisherman who would also like to catch a few trout.
Smallmouth Fishing Downstream from the Prosperine Access
Below Prosperine, smallmouth once again take center stage. The water is by this point much deeper, slower, and warmer. It is perfect habitat to grow large smallmouth bass. While the portion of river below Prosperine isn't as popular with fisherman as other reaches, that does not reflect the reality. The smallmouth population in this area is very healthy, and it is the best place to tie into a lunker. The fishing ends about 35 miles downstream at Tunnel Dam. Below Tunnel Dam, lake fish from Lake of the Ozarks enter the scene, including largemouth bass, white bass, walleye, and Paddlefish. While smallmouth don't dissapear, they do become somewhat rare.
Smallmouth Bass Fishing Techniques on the Niangua River
Fishing techniques on the Niangua are typical of those used on other Ozark streams. Crayfish imitating crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and plastic worms are all used with a lot of success. Bait fishing is also very popular along the Niangua, especially using live minnows or Crayfish. It is also an ideal fly fishing river, with small crayfish and minnow imitating streamers working very well. Topwater lures and flies are also good in the mornings and evenings. Using any of these methods, the Niangua is likely to give you an excellent experience.
Smallmouth Bass Fishing Lures and Baits for the Niangua River
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
5" Zoom Curly Tail Worms, Texas Rigged
Minnows and Crayfish* (they work well, but you'll have to catch them yourself using a minnow trap)
Smallmouth Bass Fishing Flies for the Niangua 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