Anglers, take note: Spring in Missouri is one of the best times for fishing. Our countless creeks, rivers, streams and lakes are teaming with fishing opportunities. Whether you’re seeking that massive bass or just want to spend a relaxing day in a trout stream, you can’t go wrong here. But don’t limit your endeavors to spring; fishing is a prime activity year-round in Missouri.
You know Branson features tons of world-class entertainment – but did you know this Missouri city is bounded by two outstanding lakes? The fishing is always exciting on Table Rock Lake. Also, this is an excellent lake to explore with a scuba tank strapped to your back. Along the shore, everyone finds something to like at Table Rock State Park, so take your camping gear, because you’ll want to spend plenty of time at this great natural getaway.
Along Branson’s eastern and southern edges, you’ll find everything from stripped bass to brown and rainbow trout in the deep, clear waters of Lake Taneycomo. Cast your line into the crisp water and get ready to brag about your amazing catches; several state records have been recorded there.
Trout season in Missouri’s four, state administered trout parks opens March 1 and runs thru October; catch and release is allowed at specific times the rest of the year. The season varies in other locations. For a list of other trout areas, streams and lakes, click here: Trout Areas.
Missouri’s Four Managed Trout Parks
These four Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) administered parks are stocked with rainbow trout daily. They are superb locations for outdoor adventures and family gatherings, year-round. In addition to great fishing, the parks include lodging and camping, dinning options, hiking trails, ADA fishing access points, shelter houses, picnic sites, general stores and other facilities. (A Missouri fishing license and a daily trout tag are required to fish.)
- At Maramec Spring Park, six miles east of St. James, contains the fifth largest spring in Missouri. The site includes the ruins of the 1826 Maramec Iron Works. Although the park is privately owned, the trout stream and hatchery are operated by MDC.
- Bennett Spring State Park, 12 miles west of Lebanon, is home to the state's third-largest spring, which forms the Niangua River, a tributary of the Lake of the Ozarks. There is a canoe outfitter in the park.
- Roaring River State Park, eight miles south of Cassville, is one of the most breathtaking settings in Missouri, cradled between towering hills above a deep blue spring. There is a nature center on-site.
- Montauk State Park, 21 miles southwest of Salem, is home to seven springs that form the headwaters of the Current River. The Current and its tributary, the Jacks Fork, make up the Ozark National Scenic Riverways national park.
About eight miles west of Warsaw, Harry S Truman State Park is on a peninsula jutting into Truman Reservoir, Missouri’s largest lake (in terms of surface area). This site makes it a great fishing destination. Cast your line from the shore or set off from the marina; heck, you can even do both. In addition to fishing, Truman State Park provides a lovely place to hike, camp, nature watch and throw a super picnic.
How about a trophy, fresh-water “big game” fish? Pomme de Terre Lake is an anglers dream for those seeking trophy muskellunge – more commonly called, muskie. No other freshwater fish offers the combination of size, strength and ferociousness than the muskie. A good starting point is Pomme de Terre State Park, four miles north of Pittsburg (Missouri, that is).
Bass? Bass you say? Bass-fishing enthusiasts consider Long Branch State Park an excellent destination, with good reason —the 2,430-acre Long Branch Lake. In addition to stellar fishing, the park, two miles west of Macon, offers these facilities: a swimming beach; hiking trails; camp sites; an ADA accessible fishing dock; a camp store; boat slips; picnic sites; and shelters.
Let us not overlook the Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri's most popular lake destination. This lake has more than 1,100 miles of shoreline – that’s more shoreline than the pacific coast of California. Besides angling for all manner of fresh-water fish, the Lake of the Ozarks has countless outdoor activities, including, among other choices: golf; horseback riding; boat excursions; wineries; airplane and helicopter tours; theme parks; ziplines.
We hasten to point out, this is but a sampling. You can spend a year and not hit all of the great fishing spots and outdoor activities in the Show-Me State. So gather up your gear, and go get ‘em.