Fishing report: Open-water anglers rejoice as Missouri, Kansas lakes thaw out at last

Five-year-old Sawyer Rushton, accompanied by his dad, Jeremy, was among the happy anglers at James A. Reed recently when the lakes finally thawed out. He proudly hoisted a bass he caught on his favorite rattle trap lure.
Five-year-old Sawyer Rushton, accompanied by his dad, Jeremy, was among the happy anglers at James A. Reed recently when the lakes finally thawed out. He proudly hoisted a bass he caught on his favorite rattle trap lure. Submitted photo

Here is the fishing report for the Kansas City area and lakes and wildlife areas in Kansas and Missouri for the week of March 13, 2019.


BULL SHOALS: 45 degrees, clear, 5 feet high Outlook: Del Colvin Guide Service reports: lake levels dropped. The last arctic blast messed up the shad. Look for shad in pockets and runoff with warmer water nearby. Jerkbaits like a Megabass or swimbaits like Keitech around the shad will produce. Keep an out for seagulls to help you find the shad. Bluff ends and points leading into spawning areas are holding some fish. Try a grub, jig or ned rig on post frontal days. The cranking bite should pick up with the warming trend. Red colors have been best lately. A Spro rock crawler, wiggle warts and square bills will work. Wind will help the crank bite. Water temps have been the lowest all year so some days you’re flat out going to have to work for them. Some of the biggest fish are usually caught in the next couple of weeks. Below the dam: John Berry of Berry Bros. Guide Service reports: The White has fished well. No wadable water in the last week. The hot spot has been The Catch and Release section at Rim Shoals. The hot flies were olive woolly buggers (#8, #10), Y2Ks (#14, #12), prince nymphs (#14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead #16, #18), pheasant tails (#14), ruby midges (#18), root beer midges (#18), pink and cerise San Juan worms (#10), and sowbugs (#16). Double fly nymph rigs have been very effective (my current favorite combination is a bead head pheasant tail nymph (#14) with an egg pattern (#12) suspended below it. Use plenty of weight to get your flies down.

TANEYCOMO: 49 degrees, stained, 2 units of generation Outlook: Lilleys’ Landing reports: flood gates were open at Table Rock Dam last week and through the weekend, but there’s no flooding. The Corps is working on the intake screens on the lake side of the dam. Divers have to go down and pull off dead catfish and other nasty things that have piled up over the past few years on these grates. For that to happen, the turbines have to be offline, but because of the lake levels on Beaver and Table Rock, the Corps needs to move some water, so over the spill gates it came. This brought all kinds of fish with it including threadfin shad. Trout fishing was incredible over the weekend because of this flow, and the trout are still looking for shad now that the gates are closed and turbines running, but it has slowed down. They’re running anywhere from 1 to 3 units, and with rain in the forecast, it’s not going to slow down any time soon. So fishing in the trophy area has been pretty good throwing white jigs, spoons, small stick baits and shad flies. And these lures are still working well all the way to the Branson Landing because the shad drifted down that far. The best fishing has been from Monkey Island down through the Landing. MDC stocked quite a few rainbows late last week and it’s been pretty crazy. Best thing to drift with is pink or orange PowerWorms on the bottom, or if the water isn’t running too hard, under a float 5-7 feet deep. Join Southwest Missouri Area Fishing Facebook group for fishing updates from an engaged membership.

NORFORK: 48 degrees, creeks stained, main lake clear, about 3 feet high. Outlook: Bink’s Fintastic Guide Service reports: Lake is falling and the spring fishing is picking up. Stripers, hybrids, and white bass are all back in the creeks and feeding on the ½ oz Bink’s white jigging spoon. Non stop action.

LONGVIEW: 38 degrees, stained, 0.8 feet high. Outlook: Longview Marina reports: the lake is open and both ramps are usable. Still ice in the backs of coves. Crappie are starting to pick up around the marina, but they’re still down deep. Black and pink seems to be working well. Fishing is available from the marina seven days a week. Fishing hours are 8am-12:30pm and will go to 8am-3pm on March 16th. Join Lee’s Summit Area Fishing Facebook group for daily updates.

POMME DE TERRE: 40 degrees, clear (4-5 feet), 3 feet high. Outlook: Muskie Guide Service reports: 500 cfs being released. All species have been slow.

LAKE OF THE OZARKS: 40 degrees, muddy, 6 feet low Outlook: Gier’s Bass Pro reports: crappie can be caught with minnows around docks. Anglers are starting to find them with a bobber and jig at the backs of coves. Place your jig five feet below the bobber. They’re being found fishing anywhere in 5 to 15 feet of water. Bass fishing has been okay throwing a jerkbait or jig on main lake points. Sunny days can be very good for throwing a jerkbait.

REED AREA: 34 degrees, clear, normal pool. Outlook: Missouri Dept. of Conservation reports: lakes are and open. Crappie are good, try warm afternoons near brush piles. Trout are excellent on power bait and eggs. All other species slow. Join Lee’s Summit Area Fishing Facebook Group for daily updates.

STOCKTON: 49 degrees, clear, 1.9 feet high Outlook: Stockton Lake Guide Service reports: Walleye are finally on the move. Look for them on main lake points near lots of rocks throwing a jerkbait. If you really want to catch him, sit around in your boat until after the sunsets when you usually want to go home and start fishing. Crappie are still under schools of shad, but not like they have been. You’ll have better success if you can find shad and cover any place from 29 to 50 feet deep. For bass, throw a jerkbait and run the A-rig around 20 to 30 feet of water. Look for them mainly on points and chunk rocks on steep areas and bluffs. A few white bass have been up the rivers along with a few walleyes. So if you’re looking for a nice little walk through the woods, try way up the Sac River. Join Southwest Missouri Area Fishing Facebook group for fishing updates from an engaged membership.

JACOMO: mid 30s, stained, normal Outlook: Lee’s Summit Area Fishing Facebook group reports: Still some thin ice on the lake earlier in the week. Crappie can be found around the docks and brush piles. Join Lee’s Summit Area Fishing Facebook Group for daily updates.

BLUE SPRINGS: mid 30s, clear, 0.8 feet high Outlook: Lee’s Summit Area Fishing Facebook Group reports: Still some thin ice on the lake earlier in the week. Crappie can be found around the marina when the water is open. Join Lee’s Summit Area Fishing Facebook Group for daily updates.

TABLE ROCK: 46 degrees, clear on main lake (7 feet), muddy in rivers, a little high and rising. Outlook: Eric Prey of Focused Fishing Guide Service reports: White bass are starting to show up in the rivers, rooster tails and grubs are working. Walleye are running up the White River, try a stick bait or crankbait. The deep bite has slowed with the generation through the dam. Jerkbait bite has been the best on steeper, rocky main lake and secondary points near isolated timber. Allow the bait to sit for 5 - 10 seconds to draw strikes. Wind makes the bite better. The jig bite is also strong on these same points when it’s calm. The fish have been 15-25 feet deep. Swimbaits over deep trees 20 - 35 feet down in the bigger creek arms is working as well. The crankbait bite has really come on strong in the last week. Target rocky banks with wind 8-12 feet deep. Join Southwest Missouri Area Fishing Facebook group for fishing updates from an engaged membership.

TRUMAN: 38 degrees, stained, 3.2 feet high. Outlook: Richard Bowling Guide Service reports: ice is gone and crappie are 30 feet down in 35 feet of water and more. Cats are being caught in the current 2 to 8 feet of water on the flats. Use fresh cut bait.

SMITHVILLE: 32 degrees, clear, 0.5 feet high Outlook: Burton’s Bait and Tackle reports: the lake is starting to open up but there is still a lot of ice around. Ice fishing is not recommended. Reports of a few crappies being caught is all that’s showing up. There will be a brush pile project on March 28th where you can volunteer to help place brush piles. You can call the MDC or Corps. Of Engineers for more details.

MOZINGO LAKE: low 30s, 1-3 feet of clarity, normal. Outlook: Fishing With Nordbye YouTube channel reports: The lake is frozen up. The ice is 10 to 15 inches in a lot of places. Use caution! Join Northwest Missouri Area Fishing Facebook group for daily updates.


SHAWNEE MISSION PARK: 36 degrees, mostly ice covered, normal Outlook: Clarity: trout are good on worms or Powerbait. Crappie and panfish are fair on worms or jigs. Catfish are poor. Bass/wipers are fair on jigs or chicken liver. 3,800 hundred pounds of trout were stocked on Feb 20th. Trout were stocked again on March 8th.

KILL CREEK PARK: 38 degrees, mostly ice covered, normal Outlook: trout are good on worms or Powerbait. Crappie and panfish are fair on worms. Bass are fair on jigs. Catfish are poor. 1,600 pounds of trout were stocked on Feb 20th and opened it up to fishing on February 23. Trout were stocked again on March 8.

MELVERN: 34 degrees, stained, about 2 feet low. Outlook: Melvern Lake Marina reports: Ice coverage as of Monday morning was around 30%. Crappie are poor to fair with a lot of small fish being caught. More keepers are being caught in and around established brush piles and at the Marina docks. Small ice jigs and soft baits are best. All other species - poor or no reports.

CLINTON: 37 degrees, 1 foot low, clear. Outlook: Kansas Angling Experience Guide Service reports: the lake has thawed completely for the most part-the backs of some coves may still have some thin sheet ice on them. Crappie: good. Size and numbers are still being caught on brushpiles and channel breaks on jigs.

PERRY: 35 degrees, stained, about 6 feet high Outlook: Don and Tom’s Bait and Tackle reports: Any ice fishing is discouraged. Rock Creek is pretty open. The lake is flooding and is already up in the parking lot at the ramp. Water is pretty much open in the south end but ice still present in the north end. Crappie have been okay in the marinas but it’s slowed down since the water started coming up.

COFFEY COUNTY: 47 at north end, 57 at hot water outlet, 39 at the inlet, 39 at the dam clear, full pool Outlook: The Gatehouse reports: Ramp is usable. 478 whites reported caught in the last week, 34 largemouth, 12 smallmouth, 29 crappie, 57 wipers, and 16 channel cats.

LA CYGNE: 37 degrees main lake, 58 at hot water outlet, clear, full pool Outlook: Linn County Parks reports: the ramp is clear so it is usable. Blue cats off the banks at the north end were good. Crappie have been caught in decent numbers in the last week. Whites and wipers have been good around the hot water outlet. For information on the Linn County Marina boat ramps call 913-757-6633. Join Southeast Kansas Area Fishing Facebook Group for daily updates.

POMONA: 32 degrees, stained, 0.6 feet low but rising Outlook: Lighthouse Bay Marina reports: Corps. Of Engineers reports: ice is starting to come off the lake. Ice fishing is not recommended. Crappie have been biting very well around the dock.

MILFORD: 33 degrees, stained, 0.5 feet low Outlook: Kansas Department of Wildlife reports: Corps. of Engineers reports the lake is 55% ice covered. KDWPT last updated 12/20. All species are slow. Join Northeast Kansas Area Fishing Facebook Group for daily updates.

HILLSDALE: 33 degrees, stained, 1.3 feet low Outlook: Jayhawk Marina reports: lake is about 50% ice covered. Be cautious using boat ramps. Crappie – fair on blue and white, black, and silver jigs, as well as minnows. Small spoons are producing, too. Try 19-24 feet down. Some bass and walleye are being caught as well. The fishing dock opens at 7am, kids 12 and under are free. Join Northeast Kansas Area Fishing Facebook Group for daily updates.

GLEN ELDER (WACONDA LAKE): 32 degrees, clear, 1 foot low Outlook: Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism reports: last updated 2/18/19. The lake is 90% ice covered. All of the boat ramps are iced in. Much better ice has formed west of the causeway with 7 good inches reported around Boller Point. Farther north, the ice is approximately four inches thick, but not as high of quality. There is still open water under the bridge and west of the boat ramp near the standing timber. Given the weather forecast for this week, ice fishing should be safe to try this week and into the weekend. Just be very careful and respect the ice. Do not fish alone and always check the ice ahead of you before assuming it is safe. There have been mixed reports of white bass and crappie catches this winter west of the causeway. Anglers can try fishing off the docks or fish in the outlet below the dam. Crappie are fair to good. Anglers have been reporting improved crappie catch rates from deep drops along the river channel and in the marina slips. Small jigs and minnows are working best. The bite is often best early in the morning and late in the afternoon. There have also been some fish caught off the brush piles around the state park area. There is now a 10 inch minimum length limit on crappie at Glen Elder! Walleye are fair. Anglers do not catch many walleye during the winter out here. Best bets to catch some now would be to target deeper water along the river channel in the lower half of the reservoir. During the day, fish can be found as deep as 40 feet, but they will move shallower at night. White bass are good. Check around the outlet area with the high outflows occurring right now. Also, fish can be found off main lake points along the north shore and near the south bluffs. Fish will also be stacking up west of the causeway and anglers should be able to find some along the river channels in that area. Trout are good. The latest trout stocking occurred on December 31st and the fish looked very good. The pond is currently covered with a thin layer of ice so it will be difficult for anglers to fish until the ice thickens or clears off. Once anglers are able to fish, the best baits to try include Powerbait, minnows, and worms. Don’t forget to purchase a trout permit.

TUTTLE CREEK: 32 degrees, stained, 6.8 feet high. Outlook: Kansas Department of Wildlife reports: 90% ice cover. KDWPT last updated 3/5. Most fishing has been slow due to high water. High water, dropping water and muddy water has greatly hampered the normally good winter crappie fishing. The high release rates have been moving saugeye from the Reservoir downstream, which has led to some good fishing in the river pond, the river below the dam or at Rocky Ford. Trout season is in full force at Willow Lake, which is located in the Southeast corner of the Tuttle Creek State Park below the dam. Willow Lake was stocked with 650 pounds of rainbow trout on 03/05/19. So far this trout season, the lake has been stocked with 7,675 catchable sized rainbow trout. Fishing has been good to excellent. Ice conditions have been changing weekly, but there have been some anglers able to get out on the ice or just breaking holes by the docks when the ice is not safe. Best baits are commercial trout baits, worms, corn or lures. Limit is 5 fish a day. A trout permit is needed to fish at Willow Lake during the trout season, except that anyone under 16 years of age with a properly licensed adult can fish and harvest up to 2 trout without a trout permit.

WILSON: mid to upper 30s, stained, 1 foot high. Outlook: Knothead’s Bait Shop reports: ice is gone. Fishing is still slow all over the lake.

EL DORADO: low to mid 30s, stained, 0.23 feet high. Outlook: KS Dept. of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism reports: last updated 3/7. As of March 7, the lake is mostly ice covered and all boat ramps are locked in ice. Ice not thick enough for safe ice fishing. Crappie were biting in 16 to 20 feet of water before ice up. The KDWPT stocked 400 pounds of rainbow trout in the trout stream last week and have one more stocking to go. Trout fishing should be FANTASTIC when the ice melts and allows access to the fish.

Tyler Mahoney is a Rockhurst University-educated outdoors fanatic who works to support his hunting and fishing habits. Read more of his next-generation insight at mahoneyoutdoors.com.