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Fishing report: Crappie are getting better but not quite in spawn mode in most areas

Crappie fishing at Truman Lake

Crappie fishermen catch fish on spider rigs at Truman Lake. Video by Brent Frazee
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Crappie fishermen catch fish on spider rigs at Truman Lake. Video by Brent Frazee

Here is the fishing report for the Kansas City area and lakes and wildlife areas in Kansas and Missouri for the week of April 17, 2019.

Missouri

BULL SHOALS: low 60s, clear (15-20 feet), 0.8 feet high Outlook: Del Colvin Guide Service reports: Look for shad in pockets and runoff with warmer water nearby. Bass have been moving up. A Jewel Gem Shad with a Keitech will produce in the wind. Try a tube in lizard, green pumpkin, or watermelon red colors. Also, try a carolina rig, twin tail grub, shakey heads, or a ned rig on points leading into spawning areas. If we have wind, spinnerbaits and square bills will work. Wind will also help the look for rounded gravel points. Smallmouth and Kentucky bass are spawning and the bucks are roaming the shallows. The bigger blacks will be on the last point or deeper channel swings leading into the spawning area. A jig in green pumpkin color should work for them. Expect the black bass to move up on the north side of the lake this week with the full moon. Below the dam: John Berry of Berry Bros. Guide Service reports: The White has fished well. Heavy generation and 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 an egg pattern (#12) with a prince nymph (#14) suspended below it. Use plenty of weight to get your flies down.

TANEYCOMO: 43 degrees, clear, 6,500 C.F.S out of Table Rock Dam Outlook: Lilleys’ Landing reports: A good number of threadfin shad came into Taneycomo from Table Rock through the spill gates and now the trout are looking for about anything that looks like a threadfin - white jigs, white hard baits, white flies. Even spoons and spinners will work. These fish can be aggressive in their feeding, especially the bigger browns and rainbows that are used to eating bigger meals - like other trout and forage fish. So wake baits and larger jerk baits seem to be the ticket if you’re fishing for trophies. With 2 units running, you can easily boat up to the dam, just stay in the middle of the lake. Try using 3/32nd to 1/16th ounce white jigs, throwing them straight with no float and smaller 1/32nd ounce jigs under a float 4-7 feet deep. Switch out the color if they’re not taking white and try sculpin, sculpin/ginger, black/olive or white/gray. Those who are throwing big jerk baits are throwing a Megabass 110+ in shad colors. Suspending baits seemed to work better than floating or sinking. This is the time of year there is a lot of green moss on the bottom of the lake so drifting anything on the bottom is hampered by the green stuff. But that’s not to say you can’t catch trout on drifting a gray or olive scud, egg fly, San Juan Worm or a shad fly on the bottom. Use very little weight and no weighted flies if possible. Better yet, use a float and fish any of these flies under it 4 to 8 feet deep. Below Fall Creek, night crawlers are doing about the best along with minnows. White jigs are also pretty hot, even past Lilley’s and Cooper Creek. Guides are back to using the pink and red Berkley’s PowerWorm under a float 8-10 feet deep. The best area is from Monkey Island down past the Landing. Join Southwest Missouri Area Fishing Facebook group for fishing updates from an engaged membership.

NORFORK: 64 degrees, creeks stained, main lake clear, about 1 foot high. Outlook: Bink’s Fintastic Guide Service reports: Very similar to last week. Stripers, hybrids, and white bass are all back in the creeks and feeding on the ½ oz Bink’s white jigging spoon. Stripers have been very good at night on a stick baits.

LONGVIEW: 50 degrees, murky, about normal. Outlook: Longview Marina reports: crappie are biting very well. The bite has been good around the marina and on the main lake in staging areas leading into spawning grounds. Bass tournament guys did catch some fish but it wasn’t great. Fishing is available from the marina Monday-Friday. Fishing hours are 7am-5pm. Join Lee’s Summit Area Fishing Facebook group for daily updates.

POMME DE TERRE: mid 50s, clear, 4 feet high. Outlook: Pomme Muskie Guide Service reports: 2,500 C.F.S is being released. Lake has varying degrees of clarity. Around the dam it’s clear, but further up the lake you go it gets dingier. Crappie have been biting well on jigs and minnows over brush piles. White bass have been biting in the back of coves. Largemouth and muskies have been slow. There has been a lot of wind recently so be careful! All other species - slow or no reports.

LAKE OF THE OZARKS: 64 degrees, clear, 3.5 feet low Outlook: Gier’s Bass Pro reports: crappie are up on the banks and are expected to be spawning soon. Bass are staging in shallow brush. A lot are being caught on lizards or jigs. When wind is blowing, square billed crankbaits have been productive. No word on catfish.

REED AREA: 54 degrees, clear, normal pool. Outlook: Missouri Dept. of Conservation reports: trout fishing is fair on Powerbait, flies, inline spinners, and small jigs on windy banks. Channel catfish are fair on minnows and cut bait. Largemouth bass good on a variety of baits. Crappie are good on small jigs around brush. All other species slow. Join Lee’s Summit Area Fishing Facebook Group for daily updates.

STOCKTON: 57 degrees, clear, 3.8 feet high Outlook: Tandem Fly Outfitters reports: bass are starting to stage and the best bite has been from Mile Long Bridge and Masters up to the dam. Fish can be caught on a jerkbait, rock crawler, spinner bait, jig and shakey head. The fish will be on main lake and secondary points with bigger fish being caught in 15-20 feet fishing a ½ oz football jig after finding productive areas with a jerkbait, spinnerbait, or rock crawler. You can substitute a shakey head if you’re having a tough bite on the football jig. Walleye can be caught on main lake points with a ¼ oz road runner tipped with half of a nightcrawler. Crappie are starting to stage on main lake brush. White bass and crappie are being caught up the tributaries with water temps in the upper 50s, but water is stained. You can catch fish moving into the banks. Fish can be caught on ⅛ oz roadrunner head and swimming minnow body. Once you locate a higher concentration of fish cast a 1/32 oz jig head with a gum drop Bobby garland baby shad 1-3 feet below a casting cork. Stockton Lake Guide Service reports: Bass are fair on jigs and crankbaits on secondary points in 10 to 15 feet of water. Walleye are fair on worms and bottom bouncing in 10 to 20 feet of water on main lake points and crappie are good on jigs and minnows in brush piles on the main lake and in the shallows up the rivers.

JACOMO: mid to upper 50s, clear, a little high Outlook: Lee’s Summit Area Fishing Facebook group reports: Crappie can be found around the docks and brush piles. Fish have been fairly shallow in the water column. Some big ones have been caught around the marina and other docks. Minnows have been most productive. Bass are fair on jerkbaits and jigs. A little wind will help the crankbait bite. Join Lee’s Summit Area Fishing Facebook Group for daily updates.

BLUE SPRINGS: mid to upper 50s, clear, a little high Outlook: Lee’s Summit Area Fishing Facebook Group reports: White bass and wipers are fair. Look for them to move in along the dam. Crappie can be found around the docks and brush piles. Fish have been fairly shallow in the water column. Minnows have been most productive. Bass are fair on jerkbaits and jigs. Join Lee’s Summit Area Fishing Facebook Group for daily updates.

TABLE ROCK: 59 degrees, clear on main lake (7 feet), stained in rivers, normal. Outlook: Eric Prey of Focused Fishing Guide Service reports: bass are staging on points near spawning coves. Swimbaits, tubes, jigs and Ned rigs have all been working. Crappie are staged in trees near spawning pockets and flats. Jigs, crappie tubes and swimming minnows are all effective. Beds are showing up but the spawn hasn’t fired up yet. The white bass spawn is in full swing up the rivers. Rooster tails, grubs and swimbaits are all working on spawning flats. Join Southwest Missouri Area Fishing Facebook group for fishing updates from an engaged membership.

TRUMAN: 55 degrees, stained, 10 feet high. Outlook: Richard Bowling Guide Service reports: Crappie are being caught in the creeks in 15 feet of water and more fishing 11 feet down. Spider rigging and two pole trolling is working with minnows. Early and late bite is the best. Catfishing has been tough recently.

SMITHVILLE: mid 50s, stained, two feet low Outlook: Burton’s Bait and Tackle reports: it took almost 17-pounds to win the bass tournament over the weekend. The water flow has slowed down recently which should help the crappie. The white bass are up in the river and biting well. Catfish have been biting okay, but below the dam should pick up really well soon.

MOZINGO LAKE: low 50s, 1-3 feet of clarity, normal. Outlook: Fishing With Nordbye YouTube channel reports: Fish are in prespawn patterns and starting to move back in the coves. Most fish are lethargic. Crappie can be found on main lake brush, as well as bluegill. Catfish are fair. Bass are fair. Jerkbaits and MO-Rigs are working best along rocks, old submerged vegetation, and along points. Join Northwest Missouri Area Fishing Facebook group for daily updates.

Kansas

SHAWNEE MISSION PARK: 57 degrees, clear, normal Outlook: Trout are good on Powerbait or dough bait. Crappie and panfish are fair on minnows. Catfish are poor. Try nightcrawlers or chicken liver. Bass/wipers are fair on plastics.

KILL CREEK PARK: 57 degrees, cloudy, normal Outlook: trout are good on nightcrawlers. Trout are good on salmon egg imitation baits. Crappie and panfish are good on worms. Bass are fair on plastic worms. Catfish are poor.

MELVERN: 55 degrees, stained, 2.5 feet high Outlook: Melvern Lake Marina reports: 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 jigs and minnows are best. Smallmouth are fair lakewide using shallow crankbaits along shoreline. Channel catfish are fair lakewide and at the outlet park on nightcrawlers and livers. Blue Catfish are being caught near the west end of the lake using shad sides and entrails.

CLINTON: 58 degrees, dingy, 2 feet high Outlook: KDWPT reports: last updated 4/11. Crappie have slowed down in the past week. Walleye are slowing down as the spawn comes to an end. Anglers are using jerkbaits, Rapala Floating-Diving Minnow, and jigs on the dam.

PERRY: mid to upper 50s, stained, about 12 feet high Outlook: Don and Tom’s Bait and Tackle reports: Crappie are still pretty scattered. More males are being caught starting to stage up shallow in 5-10 feet. The best place to look for crappie are in the creek channels. The boat ramps are mostly underwater except for the one in Slough Creek. Anglers are also using the ramp at DJ’s Marina. Catfish have been found around the 92 bridge using worms.

COFFEY COUNTY: 65 at north end, 75 at hot water outlet, 47 at the inlet, 53 at the dam, clear, full pool Outlook: The Gatehouse reports: Ramp is usable. Most species have been slow in the last week. White bass have been the best. You can find all species around the hot water outlet.

LA CYGNE: 55 degrees, clear, full pool Outlook: Linn County Parks reports: bass fishing has been very good in the last week. Crappie have also been very good in the last week. They are starting to move up in the water column. White bass and wipers have been found as well. For information on the Linn County Marina boat ramps call 913-757-6633. Join Southeast Kansas Area Fishing Facebook Group for daily updates.

POMONA: 59 degrees, stained, 4.8 feet high Outlook: KDWPT reports: all species are slow overall. Some nice crappie are occasionally being caught around the rock quarry and along Dragoon. Best baits are dark jigs and/or minnows. Recent sampling indicates there are good numbers of larger crappie around the 11-inch or bigger range. Walleye can be found along the dam or along deeper steep banks on crankbaits or jigs tipped with nightcrawlers. For white bass/wipers, use minnows/live baits, cut bait. Sometimes for wipers you can use liver and shad imitation lures.

MILFORD: 52 degrees, stained, 10 feet high Outlook: Two Nolan’s Outfitting reports: lake is still rising. Blue catfish are being caught drifting. Higher lake levels are expected, which could impact angling success. All blue cats between 25-40 inches must be released. Creel limit is still five, but only one can be 40-inches or longer. Crappie are starting to move up, look for them suspended near points, flooded brush, and ledges on jigs and minnows. Walleye can be found targeting rocky or wind-swept mud banks with jigs, crankbaits, or bottom bouncers. White bass/wipers are fair along wind banks and points using jigs.

HILLSDALE: 50 degrees, clear, 0.7 feet high Outlook: KDWPT reports: last updated report 4/3/19. Fishing in the later part of the afternoon and evening has been more productive overall for all species. Whites have been around in and around the creek channels. Walleye are in spawn mode, but will be winding down shortly. Some success has been reported fishing the dam but targeting adjacent mud flats and banks can bring success too. Crankbaits and jigs are the most productive lures right now. Crappie fishing at the marina docks has picked up recently. Keepers (10 + inches) are being caught frequently. Target brush piles and structure in 20 feet of water. Jigs and smaller ice spoons are productive baits right now. Target white bass off wind blown points. Jigs and shad imitation lures are the best baits right now. Largemouth bass should be transitioning to deeper structure right now. Target baitfish to find the bass. Join Northeast Kansas Area Fishing Facebook Group for daily updates.

GLEN ELDER (WACONDA LAKE): 56 degrees, clear, about 1.1 feet high Outlook: Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism reports: last updated given 4/11/19.Crappie are fair. There have been some crappie caught on the lower half of the reservoir along the river channel in 20 to 25 feet of water. A variety of small jigs are working best with chartreuse and black being the best colors recently. The fish will remain on the river channel and around brush piles until the water warms into the 60’s and thee fish move into spawn. Walleye are fair to good. The walleye spawn is winding down and there are just a few fish being caught shallow along the dam and the Cawker City causeway. Anglers have been having fair to good success catching legal walleye after dark using jigs and floating rapalas, but catch rates are dropping. There are also high numbers of short males that need to be handled carefully and immediately returned to the water when caught. Walleye typically move west following the spawn and can be caught around Gibbs Point and the Wally World area. Bass are biting well. Angling opportunities should continue to improve as the water warms through the 50’s. Smallies can be caught along the dam and north shore around the state park area, as well as the south bluffs. Largemouth bass numbers are best in the back end of Walnut Creek, Granite Creek, Mill Creek, and Mealls Cove. Jig and Pig, white spinnerbaits, and Ned Rigs are all good options for early spring bass. Channel catfish are good. Anglers have been using shad sides, shad gizzards, shrimp, and stink baits to catch mostly channel cats with a few small blue catfish missed in. Best areas to try now include Carr Creek, Oak Creek, Fisherman’s Bridge, Boller Point, Cawker City dike, and Granite Creek. Anglers have been catching good numbers of trout using cheese, Powerbait, minnows, and worms. White bass can be caught in good numbers throughout the spring in a variety of locations. 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 begin moving up the river channels and migrate toward the rocky banks to spawn in the next couple of weeks.

TUTTLE CREEK: 49 degrees, stained, 40 feet high. Outlook: Kansas Department of Wildlife reports: KDWPT last updated report given 4/11. 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. 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: 54 degrees, clear, about normal. Outlook: Knothead’s Bait Shop reports: Walleye were really good last week picking up at the spillway and the dam, but have since started to wind down. You can find a few on jerkbaits. White bass at horseshoe and towards the river have been found a lot lately. Some stripers have been caught in the upper end of the lake in about 6-10 feet of water. Blue catfish are being caught throughout the reservoir but upper end seems to have the most fish. Areas closer to the mouths of creeks and the main river channel seem to hold the most fish. Try cut bait (shad, carp, bluegill) for blue catfish.

EL DORADO: low to mid 50s, stained, 0.3 feet high. Outlook: KS Dept. of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism reports: last updated report given 4/15. Anglers reporting fair to good success this week on wipers casting jig and plastics to active fish. The fish aren’t staying in one place very long so the trick is finding the fish. Shallow points or flats with deeper water nearby are good early season locations. There has been some decent white bass activity in the creeks recently on curly tailed grubs or small spinners. Crappie have scattered from their wintertime areas and are a little tough to catch right now. As the water temps continue to increase the crappie will start prespawn mode and begin staging off spawning areas. Shad sides on windblown points and stink bait in the creeks have been producing channel catfish. The walleye spawn is winding down, but some shallow fish continue to be caught. Spawning walleye can be found along rocky shorelines and points lake wide. Anglers have reported fair success while fishing spawning areas during the nighttime hours.

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.

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