12 Weeks, 12 Missouri Lakes

See Photo Location
Table Rock Lake
Mark Twain Lake
Mark Twain Lake
Stockton Lake
Pomme de Terre Lake
Lake of the Ozarks

Twelve weeks.

That’s about how long summer lasts, starting with Memorial Day weekend and running through much of August, with the first day of school marking summer’s unofficial end.

While the season’s stay can seem oh-so brief, you can cram hours of adventure into those 12 weeks, especially at Missouri’s recreational lakes. There’s lots to do on the water and on dry land, too. 

Here’s a look at 12 Show-Me State lakes – one for each week of Missouri’s fun-filled summer season.

1. Clearwater Lake

In southeast Missouri, near the cities of Piedmont and Ellington, Clearwater Lake covers about 1,600 acres and is noted for its fishing. Nearby attractions include the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Peck Ranch Conservation Area (elk tours) and Sam A. Baker State Park.

2. Lake of the Ozarks

Located in central Missouri, near Osage Beach, Lake Ozark and Camdenton, it’s one of Missouri’s largest lakes, with more than 1,100 miles of shoreline. Popular for boating and fishing, the lake area is also a well-known golf destination. Ha Ha Tonka State Park and Bridal Cave are close by.

3. Mozingo Lake

An often-overlooked gem, this 1,000-acre northwest Missouri lake is located near Maryville. The recreational area surrounding the lake offers camping, horseback riding and golf. The lake has good populations of bass and crappie. Attractions in the area include Conception Abbey and Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration chapel.

4. Table Rock Lake

With 800 miles of shoreline and spanning 45,000 acres, there’s abundant room for recreation on Table Rock Lake. Situated near Branson and Kimberling City, the lake is a popular spot for bass fishing. Branson’s live shows, Silver Dollar City and the Titanic Museum are a short drive away.

5. Mark Twain Lake

There’s plenty of space to fish for crappie, boat and swim on this 19,000-acre lake in northeast Missouri. Named for the area’s most famous resident, the lake is near the cities of Perry, Monroe City and Florida. Area attractions include Spalding Beach, Mark Twain Landing and the Mark Twain Birthplace State Historic Site.

6. Lake Pomme de Terre

A peaceful, 7,800-acre lake in central Missouri, Pomme de Terre is well-known among anglers seeking muskie and walleye. The lake is situated near the towns of Pittsburg and Hermitage. Area attractions include the Lead Mine Conservation Area, Lucas Oil Speedway and Shadow Lake Golf Course.

7. Smithville Lake

A popular destination for Kansas City residents (it’s 20 minutes from downtown) this 7,000-plus-acre lake has 175 miles of shoreline near Smithville, Plattsburg and Platte City. The area surrounding the lake has campgrounds, biking trails and golf courses. The Jesse James Farm and the Shoal Creek Living History Museum are located close by.

8. Harry S Truman Reservoir (Truman Lake)

Named for the only Missourian ever elected president, Truman Lake – the largest in Missouri in terms of acreage – is great for fishing. It has abundant populations of crappie, bass and walleye. The lake is near both Warsaw and Clinton. Visit the Truman Dam Visitors Center and Lost Valley Fish Hatchery.

9. Lake Wappapello

Nestled near a section of the Mark Twain National Forest in southeast Missouri, this 8,400-acre lake attracts anglers seeking largemouth bass and catfish. Nearby cities include Puxico, Williamsville and Poplar Bluff. Sights to see in the area include Lake Wappapello State Park and Mingo National Wildlife Refuge.

10. Lake Taneycomo

A popular destination for trout fishing, Lake Taneycomo has about 40 miles of shoreline. The lake is stocked with more than 700,000 rainbow and brown trout each year. On its meandering path, the lake runs through the heart of downtown Branson. Numerous attractions include the Showboat Branson Belle and Branson Landing.

11. Long Branch Lake

Located near Macon, Long Branch Lake is an excellent spot to fish for striped bass and channel catfish. Covering 2,400 acres, the lake offers abundant recreational options and includes a sandy swimming beach in Long Branch State Park. The Maples Repertory Theatre and West Winery are nearby.

12. Stockton Lake

This nearly 25,000-acre lake near Stockton and Bolivar is known as an excellent sail-boating destination. A generous and nearly-perpetual breeze from the southwest propels sailboats across the lake. There’s a marina (with a sailing school) at Stockton State Park.