Where’s The Best Crappie Fishing In Southeast Missouri?

Crappie Fishing near the Missouri Counties: Texas County, Howell County, Pulaski County, Maries County, Osage County, Gasconade County, Franklin County, Jefferson County, St. Louis County, Perry County, Jackson County, Scott County, Stoddard County, Butler County Ripley County, Wayne County, Iron County, Washington County, Crappie fishing near me

Are There Any Good Lakes To Crappie Fish Near Me In Southeast Missouri?


Whether you live near Cape Girardeau Missouri down near the bootheel, a little west of the Black River, or up in St. Louis along the Mississippi River, you won’t have to travel too far to find a lake that holds white and black crappie populations.  

Though Missouri isn’t a large populace state, it is home to the Ozarks, several rivers and excellent fishing opportunities with a multitude of species!

Crappie is one of the nation’s most popular fish but finding them in southeast Missouri can be a little tricky.   In the article ahead I will do my best to cover what I consider to be the best crappie lakes in this geographical area.



Crappie Inhabit Virtually Any Water In Southeast Missouri


If you look out across any small lake, whether it’s a pay lake, or a state-owned public lake, all the way down to narrow rivers, you can bet crappie live there and reproduce.  

Crappie are very adaptive to cool waters running out of the mountains and can survive in backwaters of the Mississippi River’s creeks, but these don’t provide the consistent catches most look for when out on the water searching for a mess to bring home to the supper table.



The Lakes That Make The List Do So For A Reason


A lake needs to have several building blocks in order for it to grow healthy populations of speckled perch.  Most successful crappie lakes share these important traits:


  • They have exceptional spawns consistently due to flooded back waters were fish can lay their eggs in safe locations.
  • Access to deeper water
  • Have a fish habitat program.
  • A large population of baitfish
  • A healthy population of predator fish 


Many great crappie lakes have flooded timber in the spring where the fish can spawn and guard their young away from predators, afterwards they need to be able to find cover out in the main lakes to ambush baitfish.  

Crappie do have one major drawback and that is they can overpopulate quickly causing food supplies to be strained.  In lakes like this you can catch hundreds of small fish but few that can be put into the grease.  

Having a good population of bass, blue cats, and flathead help thin the herds allowing larger crappie to inhabit and pass on their stronger genetics.


Lake St. Louis Provides A Good Fishing Opportunity For Folks Near St. Louis.


My bronze winner sits inside St. Charles County, northwest of St. Louis.  Known for some beautiful houses and boating, the lake actually does provide some quality crappie fishing, especially in the spring!  

Females spawn around the shallower docks and timber in the western arm stretches of the lake from April through May, then the males will guard aggressively, making for easy pickings. Once summer takes hold, look to the deeper docks mid lake.

Jigs actually perform just as well as minnows here and dock shooting is the best presentation you can master!


Clearwater Lake


A beautiful deep lake sitting close to Van Buren, in Wayne and Reynolds county Missouri, Clearwater Lake can provide great fishing opportunities, especially for your more advanced crappie fishermen.

Starting in spring making my way to the back of Logan and Webb creek arms I would chase crappie during the spawn in the flooded backwaters covering any visible structure possible.  The fish do spawn in little deeper water than average, given the clear conditions. Clearwater does produce nice sized crappie, especially females this time of year.

After the spawn summer can be really tough, especially on bright sunny days though some fish can be caught in twenty plus feet of water along brush sets scattered about.

In the wintertime, if you find the bait, you’ll find the fish.  Search break lines near the creek arms, slow rolling a curly tail jig near the bottom for your best chances at landing a meal!



Lake Wappapello 


Easily my vote for the best crappie lake in southeast Missouri is Lake Wappapello down in the bootheel near Cape Girardeau Missouri, taking up parts of Wayne and Butler County  

After damming the St. Francis River, the reservoir, like many good crappie fisheries was intended for flood control purposes.  Perhaps inadvertently, they flooded the area with tourists, campers and fishermen!  

Two of the most sought-after species, crappie and bluegill are plentiful here and can be caught using all basic techniques.

Crappie begin spawning around mid April and continue on through early May.  It’s this time of the year where fishing shallow trees and brush will produce the easiest catches and largest slabs!

Post spawn all the way through winter provides great action out off of drops near the river channels.  Spider rigging is the most prevalent way to fish using this technique and unless you specialize in jig fishing, minnows seem to outperform plastics.

The community is well known for being tourist friendly to out of state guests, and there are several campgrounds for outdoor enthusiasts! 




Southeast Missouri, while not known as a bucket list destination for crappie fishing, does have several places where you can fill a livewell with the tasty fish.  

It’s a great substitute for lakes with less fishing pressure than the famous Ozarks or Table Rock.  Regardless of your reasoning, if you visit the show me state, remember to bring your crappie rods and if you live within Missouri’s borders, take advantage of the fishing opportunities nearby!

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