Northern Missouri Has Multiple Lakes With Great Crappie Fishing Opportunities!
You don’t hear much about the rural areas of Norther Missouri. St. Louis and Kansas City seem to get all of the urban attention, and if folks talk fishing, then you can bet the Ozarks will be the first thing to come up, but did you know that northern Missouri has great crappie fishing lakes located all around?
Papermouths can be found all along the small lakes in the northern sections of the show me state.
Starting in late April, and through the month of May, Crappie can easily be caught in shallow water during the spawn.
What sets a lake apart is its ability to provide quality fishing at least three of the four seasons of a year. Ahead I will list some of the best lakes you should check out when in northern Missouri.
In the northwest corner of Clay County near Kansas City sits one of the best crappie lakes you’ve probably never heard of! Smithville is the perfect combination of contour, structure, and plenty of wind protected shallow coves allowing crappie to maintain healthy spawns year over year.
With a nice mix of both black and white crappie populations, beginners to intermediate jig fishermen will have little trouble catching fish while targeting visual laydowns and standing timber.
Summer, like all lakes can be tough but Smithville crappie are still catchable. Focusing on structure in the twenty feet range using jigs tipped with minnows can help you stick those finnicky summertime slabs!
Fall and winter feeds bring the largest average size fish and can help you quickly fill a freezer so long as you can brave the cold.
Camping is abundant and you’re only minutes away from all the things a big city has to offer if Kansas City is your thing!
In the far northwest corner of Missouri sits another hidden gem. If you’re near Nodoway County Missouri, and are looking for great crappie fishing nearby then look no farther!
With its small defined coves off the main lake, locating crappie in the spring can be almost effortless. Be prepared to catch a lot of smaller specks, but know that you’ll eventually run your jig across some really nice keepers!
The lake fishes really big and all retrieve styles will work early on in spring. Slip corking is one of my favorite methods to catching them.
On days with a strong North or South wind take caution as there is little to break up the large waves that can form when running from the dam up north so take advantage of the three boat ramps at various locations.
Thomas Hill Reservoir
Take winter time, add a coal generated power plant lake and you’ve got the perfect ingredients for a crappie haven! Thomas Hill Lake is that lake with a powerplant sitting on its southeastern shore.
If you live near Macon or Randolph counties then you have access to a lake which can produce large crappie, especially in the winter time when they’re at their thickest!
Brush piles are plentiful all around with many being visible above the surface. The bridge is also a well-known spot to catch crappie off the drops. Combine the great hybrid striper populations, one of the best lures you can use is a Shelton’s Curly Tail in 3″. The baits action will bring in plenty of both species!
Remember when dealing with a power plant lake that there are often two spawns. The coves near the powerplant discharge will have crappie laying their eggs a few weeks before the upper reaches and farthest points away.
Camping is available in case you’re just wanting to get away!
Mark Twain Lake
Sitting two hours northwest of St. Louis and a little southwest of historic Hannibal Missouri is one of the best overall fisheries in the show me state!
The Clarence Cannon Dam on the east was built for flood control and the result was an over 18,000 acre lake within the borders of Ralls and Monroe Counties.
Mark Twain has giant populations of crappie along with an above average size and they’re easy to catch so what more could you ask for?
In the spring time when the lake begins raising its levels start in the southwest arms of Brush Creek and near the Pheasant Hill Cemetery Bridge. Buck Creek will likely take an extra week or so and the spawn will be hot and heavy there! Search for visible cover the entire time.
Summer and early fall, Mark Twain Lake can be a little difficult to locate a mess of crappie, but it is still achievable. Fish during the low light hours of the day and make sure to offer the fish a large enough meal making it worth their time. A Shelton’s Curly Tail in 3″ or a small jig tipped with a live minnow is going to be your best bet!
Wintertime experiences a renaissance and can be full of incredible action when vertical jig fishing brush piles in the 12 to 20 foot range near creek channels. Save yourself some money and stick to a stinger style jig in a monkey milk like pattern.
Northern Missouri may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to planning a crappie fishing trip at first, but you can experience some serious success when visiting the lakes listed above.
If you’re visiting for the first time, try to go during the prime months like in late April or early May. Also be sure to check the rules and regulations found out the Missouri Department of Conservation.