Little-Known Missouri Catfish Fishing Spots and Techniques

March 3, 2010

When fishing the waters of Missouri, catfish fishing will produce any number of the three largest freshwater catfish in the country – blues, channels, and flatheads. You’ll find them in all sizes and in several different locations in the state.
Unfortunately, because of a number of environmental concerns (start with soil erosion and add pollution, gravel mining, and reservoir construction) have affected the bullhead catfish population, so while you can find a few bullheads large enough to consider in some of the prairie streams, you should not overly concern yourself with this species in this state.
However, Missouri catfish fishing can be found in almost any area of the state, especially if you are searching for small channel cats. In fact, most people who desire a quite catfishing excursion don’t even have to leave town to find a good catch. Light tackle angling is extremely popular because there are a lot of urban lakes that are stocked with channel catfish that are sizeable enough for harvest several times a year.
Most individuals living in the state are within a bus trip, bike ride, or even walk of a great Missouri catfish fishing locale. Ponds provide some of the best locations to catch small channel cats, with several impoundments provided by the Missouri Department of Conservation, including Binder Lake (Jefferson County), Crane Lake (Iron County), Blue Springs Lake (near Kansas City), and many more.
You should also check out warm water rivers for small channel cats, including the Elk River downstream from Noel, portions of the Mississippi River especially near St. Louis, and Big River in St. Francis County.
For larger channel cats in Missouri, catfish fishing is abundant mainly in the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. While the state record for pole and line channel cat fishing is nearly 35 pounds, you can regularly reel in 10- and 20-pounders in these areas. However, trophy-sized channel cats are minimal and rarely found within the state.
For the best chance of finding one of the larger specimens, fish the lower areas of the tributaries flowing into the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers in May and June. You could also pay a visit to either Lake Jacomo or Nodaway County Community Lake, which are renowned for containing a greater number of large channel catfish than other areas of the state.
If you are searching for blues in Missouri, catfish fishing should concentrate on the Mississippi River, the Missouri River, or the Osage River, since the Missouri Department of Conservation doesn’t stock blue catfish outside of its native habitat any longer.
Find a slow or moderate current with shallow water that is preferably less than ten feet deep, and use river worms or bits of shad to attract the fish. For larger blue cats, target the deepest current-washed holes, using only shad or river herring to attract the trophy-sized catch.