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Missouri Lakes - Central Missouri

Ben Branch Lake

Channel catfish should be good again in 2006. The Department stocks 660 catfish each year to maintain the population. Largemouth bass and bluegill fishing will be fair this year. Fishing should be better around the brush piles that regional staff have built to improve fish habitat.

Binder Lake

Largemouth bass fishing should be good in 2006. Adult bass (³ eight inches) are numerous and the size of the fish is much better than last year. Bluegill fishing will be fair this year. There are numerous bluegill but unfortunately they tend to be small. Channel catfish should be good again this year. The Department stocks 3000 channel catfish per year to maintain the population. Crappie fishing should remain fair. Although crappie are not too numerous, one of every four adult crappie are ten inches or longer. Redear sunfish remain an underutilized resource in Binder Lake. There are numerous Master Angler redear (over ten inches) and some of these weigh over a pound.

Blind Pony Lake

Blind Pony Lake remains closed for renovation. Blind Pony Lake was built over thirty-five years ago and over that time silt has collected in the lake, reducing the water available for the hatchery and reducing water quality. This factor limited the hatchery’s ability to grow sport fish for stocking statewide. It also limited the hatchery’s capacity to raise the federally endangered pallid sturgeon for restoration efforts in the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. This has prompted the federal government to help pay for deepening the lake, replacing hatchery water supply lines, and inspecting and refurbishing fishing docks, jetties, and other facilities. As of the fall of 2005, the hatchery water lines have been replaced and much of the excavation of the lake bed is complete. Plans are being developed for an additional hatchery building. The lake will reopen in approximately three years. Only the lake is closed. The rest of the area, including four small ponds, will be open as usual.

Lake of the Ozarks

Largemouth Bass electrofishing surveys conducted during the spring of 2005 indicated that the percentage of the population equal to or greater than the 15-inch size limit was above average, resulting in good to excellent fishing in 2005. This trend should continue into 2006 as the large 2001 yearclass should reaches legal size. The outlook for spotted (Kentucky) bass over the 12-inch size limit is average. Although bass can be caught year-round, the best times are spring and fall. Fish points, brush, and docks. The best producing lures are topwater baits (low light periods), plastic worms, crankbaits, and spinnerbaits. Winter is also an excellent time to fish for bass by slowly fishing jerkbaits off points.

Crappie fishing should be excellent this spring with 44% of the fish sampled in the fall of 2005 equal to or greater than the 9-inch minimum length limit. Concentrate on brushpiles, especially those located on or near points. The ability to locate good structure is the key to successful crappie fishing on Lake of the Ozarks. Small jigs (1/32 to 1/8 ounce) and minnows are the best baits.

Catfish action should be similar to the past few years. The best months are April through September. Drifting and fishing live or cut shad on the bottom on days with a light breeze consistently produces the best catch.

White bass fishing in 2006 should be average. Good reproduction in 2004 should result in good numbers of fish in the 12 to 15 inch range. Fish windy points, submerged islands and long, sloping points using either artificial lures or shad. Opportunities for catching hybrid white bass are good in the Truman Dam tailwater and, during the summer and winter months, in spring-fed areas of the lake.

Walleye are now well established in Lake of the Ozarks after 10+ years consistent stocking. Although most walleye are caught incidentally by anglers targeting other species, anglers targeting walleye are becoming increasingly successful. Walleye are typically caught on steep rocky points and humps on crankbaits and jigs tipped with either minnows or nightcrawlers.

The lake also offers good fishing for a number of other species including paddlefish, sunfish, gar, and carp. Remember to use proper handling techniques when releasing sublegal (or legal) fish back to the water to ensure their survival.

Little Dixie Lake

Largemouth bass fishing will be fair in 2006 according to recent surveys. The density of bass has increased due to good recruitment over the last few years. As a result, there are large numbers of bass in the 8-12" range that will be available to anglers. And like last year, there will be good numbers of bass in the 12-15" protected slot length range which should provide some excellent catch and release fishing. There will also be a fair number of bass over 15" but few fish greater than 18" (4 lbs. or larger). Anglers can help improve the density of larger bass (greater than 15") by practicing catch and release fishing. The upper end of the lake, rock jetties, and dam usually provide the best fishing. Fishing around structure like creek channel drop-offs, brush piles and fallen trees are also very productive. Crappie fishing in 2006 should be good. Surveys show a large increase in the numbers of 8-10" crappie. Bigger fish (greater than 10") were also more abundant than in the past few years. The density and size structure of the crappie population continues to slowly improve due to good recruitment over the last three years. Bluegill fishing will be good this year. Most fish will average 7-8" and some will be caught in excess of 8". Catfish fishing has been excellent in the past, however, abundance has slowly been declining due to reduced stocking rates which were implemented as part of a statewide small lake catfish study. Surveys last summer showed fair to good numbers of 15-22" channel and blue catfish that will be available to anglers. The largest catfish taken while sampling was a blue catfish which weighed 42 lbs. One lucky angler caught a blue catfish in excess of 50 pounds. Many of the 16-22" catfish caught by anglers last year were taken during the spring and early summer months. Fishing off the jetties and dam, around cover, and near creek channels is the most productive. Good catfish baits include worms, liver, shrimp, cut shad, prepared baits and live sunfish. Redear sunfish fishing continues to be outstanding. As in previous years, anglers will have the opportunity to catch large numbers of 9-11" redear. Chances of catching a 10"/1 lb. redear (Master Angler size) are excellent. Try fishing near woody cover and tree stumps in shallow water, especially in May and early June during spawning. Worms and crickets fished on or near the bottom work well. Little Dixie Lake is also home to a few large lake sturgeon. Lake sturgeon are an endangered species and as such are protected by law. Any angler catching a lake sturgeon must release it unharmed, immediately after being caught.

Manito Lake

Fishing for channel catfish should be good in 2006. The Department stocks catfish each fall to maintain the population. Bluegill fishing should be fair to good this year. Bluegills were much more numerous in this year’s sample and the size is much better. Crappie fishing should remain fair. Fishing for largemouth bass will be fair this year.

Rinquelin Trail Community Lake

Fishing for redear sunfish should be excellent again in 2006. There are many large redear in the lake. Try fishing for them with the same bait and tackle you would use for bluegill but fish close to the bottom. Channel catfish should be good. The Department stocks three hundred and thirty catfish in the lake each year. Largemouth bass fishing should remain fair in 2006. Bluegill fishing will be fair also. The largemouth bass and bluegill are numerous, but small.


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