August A. Busch Wildlife Fishing
Main Species present- Largemouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish, flathead catfish, crappie, grass carp, hybrid striped bass, trout (winter months only), and muskellunge.
Situated within twenty-five minutes of St. Louis, Busch Wildlife Conservation Area provides some great fishing throughout the year. Fishing here is done on a chain of small to medium sized reservoirs. The best part of fishing here is the striking variety of fish species that can be found in this conservation area. If you’re here in the warmer months, choose any number of the lakes that hold largemouth bass. Regularly stocked catfish can be caught on lakes 3, 5, 7, and 24, and pretty much all the lakes have strong channel catfish populations. Musky are present in lake 35, and in the winter, trout are stocked in lakes 21, 22, 23, 24, and 28. I fished one day in late summer on Lake 36. Between my friend and me we caught two catfish, one larger than ten pounds, one decent largemouth bass, and almost twenty bluegill. Fishing techniques in Busch Wildlife are fairly standard for Missouri. For largemouth bass, use standard lures such as shad imitating crank baits, plastic worms, and night crawlers. Catfish can be caught on cut bait and night crawlers. Personally, my favorite way to fish Busch Wildlife is with worms. With this versatile bait, you can catch a bluegill on one cast, a catfish on the next, and then catch a hefty largemouth. I can personally attest that this is a great place to fish near St. Louis.
August A. Busch Video Tour
August A. Busch Area Map (PDF)
Channel Catfish, Blue Catfish, flathead catfish, carp, gar, largemouth bass, and bluegill (plus anything else that is present in the Missouri River.
Howell Island is another great place to fish within a half hour of St. Louis. Most of the fishing is done from a causeway across a Missouri River backwater. Just to give you and idea of the species present here, in a day of fishing in May of 2007, my friend and Icaught a white bass, two channel catfish, a four pound largemouth, anda two foot long gar. When I fished here, I used live bluegill. That's agreat way to catch good size fish in an unknown waterway. It's a great place to fish, and scenic in its own way.
Columbia Bottoms Conservation Area Fishing
Columbia Bottoms Conservation area in North St. Louis County is an oasis for fisherman. It is nestled at the confluence of our contintent's great rivers, the Missouri and the Mississippi, The area provides access to both rivers, and it is easy to get caught up in the magnificence of these two awesome river's meeting point. Both rivers provide prime fishing opportunities for catfish, white bass, crappie, and carp. While most fisherman choose to launch boats, there is plenty of bank access along each river for anglers who don't own a boat that can handle these mighty rivers. There is six miles of public access here, and catfish anglers can do well along all of it.
The Missouri Department of Conservation has also opened a canoe and kayak access in the park. While such small craft may seem an unlikely choice for these rivers,safe navigation is possible, provided you take great care to avoid barge traffic, and wear a life vest. This can be a successful way to access more fishing water along the river.
Due to the turbid water, the majority of fisherman use live bait here. Nightcrawlers, chicken liver, minnows (live and dead), and stinkbait are all popular for the catfish,carp, and drum that reside here. Small live minnows are the primary baits for those who target white bass and crappie. A fair number of walleye are also taken using the same methods, especially in the slightly clearer and cooler waters of the Mississippi.
A few adventurous souls also enjoy fly fishing. The often muddy water does make it much more difficult than usual, but it can be done successfully. A full sinking line, and a full range of heavily weighted streamers is needed. The streamers, (which are usually dark brown or black) are crawled along the bottom, and can often take good numbers of catfish, drum, and carp. White shad imitating flies are often successful for white bass and crappie. No matter what species you target, this is no place for long, light leaders.
Columbia Bottoms Conservation area offers rough and tumble fishing for big river species right inside St. Louis County. This may not be a classy place to fish, but the waters of the Missouri and Mississippi provide some of the largest, meanest fish to be found in the state.
Meramec River at Roberstville State Park
Route 66 State Park, located right on Highway 44 in Eureka, offers some surprising fishing to the St. Louis fisherman. Although it is so close to a major metropolis, the Meramec River in this area provides some fishing in a beautiful Ozark border stream. The river certainly isn't gin clear here, but it usually has a pleasant olive green color to it that is a pleasant contrast to the Missouri and Mississippi. The fishing is usually good for black bass, white bass, crappie, catfish, and walleye.
While the Meramec River is an immensely popular float and fish stream in its upper reaches, by the time it reaches Eureka, it is no longer heavily used. The reach of river in Route 66 State Park is usually pretty quiet, and there are often few fisherman. The river can be fished from the bank in many areas, and there are even some spots where you can wade. Still, a canoe, kayak, or jon boat will be immensely helpful.
The Black bass fishery on this part of the Meramec is very good. The non-native spotted bass make up a slight majority of the catch. MOst of these bass are in the 8" to 15" range. Spotted bass are extremely overpopulated here, and are crowding out the native smallmouth and largemouth bass. To combat this problem, the Missouri Department of Conservation has raised the limit to 12, and eliminitated the minimum length limit. We encourage you to keep all you catch to the legal limit. While somewhat less plentiful, there are plenty of largemouth and smallmouth bass to be worth the trouble. Spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and topwaters are all popular for the spin fisherman. Fly rod poppers, and Woolly buggers are good for fly fisherman.
Catfish are also a popular target. The river supports both channel and flathead catfish, and some reach large sizes. All the popular catfish baits work, but nightrawlers are probably the most consisently effective offering. Walleye, white bass, and crappie fishing is also good. You can give yourself a very good chance to catch all three by suspending a minnow under a bobber. Crankbaits, jigs, and streamers also work.
The Meramec River in Route 66 State Park provides enjoyable fishing for fisherman in the St. Louis area. It is a beautiful river, with forested hills surrounding it, and all around it provides a nice experience.