Missouri is home to some of the best catfishing in all the US. Hook and Bullet compiled the 20 best places to catfish in the state, so whether you reside in the Bootheel, Springfield, or Kansas City, we have you covered. From Lake of the Ozarks to the Missouri River, be sure you check out these catfishing spots.
Before we list these prime catfishing spots, let’s go over the best time of year to catfish in Missouri. The best time to catch catfish in Missouri is in the spring and fall, right before and after the spawn. In Missouri, catfish will spawn anywhere between mid-May to early August when water temperatures reach around 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Top Catfish Hotspots in Missouri
1. Lake of the Ozarks
First on our list of top spots for Missouri catfish is the Lake of the Ozarks. LOZ is one of the most popular destinations in Missouri. This lake has even gotten more famous from Netflix’s original series Ozark. The surface area of the lake is 54,000 acres with a fishable 1,150 miles of shoreline. Fun fact, the lake’s shoreline is longer than the entire coast of California.
The Lake of the Ozarks is an angler’s paradise for those targeting bass, crappie, paddlefish, and most importantly, catfish. According to MDC, the peak time of year to go for channel catfish at the Ozarks is from April to September. However, the blue catfish bite year-round.
2. Truman Lake
East of the Ozarks is Truman Lake. Truman is a hotspot for blue and flathead catfish. For example, many anglers find success drift fishing or jugging for blue catfish with cut shad. Blue catfish from 26-inches to 34-inches in length are protected at Truman and Lake of the Ozarks. So if your blue catfish is between these measurements, ensure you release it safely into the waters.
3. Atkinson Lake
Atkinson Lake resides on the Schell-Osage Conservation Area – another one of the top spots for Missouri catfish. According to MDC, the channel catfish angling is good at Atkinson. Also, the MDC recommends anglers use stink baits and chicken livers to target channel catfish on this lake.
4. Mississippi River
The Mississippi River runs along the border of Missouri and Illinois. The Mississippi is home to trophy-size flathead, channel, and blue catfish. Furthermore, some catfish anglers opt-in to go on guided catfishing trips in the hopes of hooking into a big’n. However, if you choose to go on this quest unguided, I recommend drifting the main channels for blue catfish. Blues love swimming in stronger currents, whereas flatheads and channels prefer slower moving water.
5. Creve Coeur Lake
If you’re into more of an urban setting, go check out Creve Coeur Lake in St. Louis. If you plan on catfishing at Creve Coeur, I recommend getting to your spot early. This inner-city lake can get packed at times, especially if you plan on doing some bank fishing. Otherwise, there’s one boat ramp at Creve Coeur, but only the use of electric motors is allowed. Additionally, Creve Coeur consists primarily of eating-size channel catfish.
Pro Tip: At Creve Coeur, use medium-light tackle and punch, dip, or dough baits for the channel catfish. I’ve had a lot of success at this small lake using Team Catfish’s Sudden Impact fiber bait.
6. Osage River
The Osage River, stretching 500 miles long, is a tributary of the Missouri River. At Osage River, you can find monstrous paddlefish, as well as large blue, flathead, and channel catfish, and one of the top spots for Missouri catfish. Furthermore, there are several boat ramps you can launch from, including:
- Bagnell Dam
- Bonnots Mill
- Kings Bluff
- Pikes Camp
- St. Thomas Ferry
7. Table Rock Lake
Table Rock Lake has a high channel and flathead catfish population. Plus, campgrounds spread across the lake and 24 boat ramps. So whether you’re staying near Indian Point or by the Kings River arm, you’ll be in for some pristine catfishing.
Pro Tip: The nighttime catfishing scene is the best at Table Rock. Furthermore, areas you should target for catfish are:
- Near the dams
- Shallow waters
8. Stockton Lake
About an hour northeast of Fellows is Stockton Lake. Compared to Table Rock, Stockton has clean and clear waters, where you can find channel and flathead catfish. For instance, the channel catfish activity is pretty high at this lake, from February to April.
Inside Tip: Fish the drop-offs, dropping your line around 10 to 15-feet deep, and using live bait.
9. Troost Lake Park
Northeast of Stockton, closer to Kansas City, is Troost Lake. MDC maintains and stocks Troost Lake park with channel catfish. It’s a great place to fish if you live in Kansas City and don’t feel like traveling outside the city. Catfish anglers suggest using nightcrawlers and punch baits for the channel catfish at Troost.
10. Lake Jacomo
Another lake not far from Kansas City is Lake Jacomo. This reservoir is one of the best catfishing spots near Kansas City. Lake Jacomo is a 970-acre reservoir, where there’s plenty of channel and flathead catfish. Anglers can access this reservoir daily between 4:00 AM and 10:00 PM.
11. Mark Twain Lake
Mark Twain Lake sits north of Columbia on state park grounds. This lake consists of 18,600 acres of water and is well-known for its outstanding bass and crappie fishing. Nevertheless, you can also hook into some nice flathead, channel, and blue catfish.
Inside Tip: Fish the main channel of Mark Twain to target blue and channel catfish. Then, for flatheads, cast near tree stumps or other areas with cover.
12. Missouri River
We saved one of the best places to catfish in Missouri for last — the good ol’ Missouri River, the longest river in North America one of the top spots for Missouri catfish. It’s home to trophy-sized flathead, blue, and channel catfish. If you want to get on some big blues in the Missouri River, I recommend using live or fresh-cut bait.
Inside Tip: On the Missouri River, fish the bends, channel breaks, wing dikes, brush piles, and deep holes to find some monster catfish.
Final Word on Missouri
When searching for the best places to haul-in Missouri cats, any of these waters will get the job done. However, if you want to target trophy-sized catfish, focus on either the Missouri or Mississippi River. Want more tips on catfishing check-out this feature. Happy fishing and please check-out some of the top spots for catfish in Missouri!