The landlocked Midwestern State of Missouri is nestled between the borders of 8 US States (tied for a record among US States-the other in TN) and boasts some of the best largemouth bass fishing in the Country. From massive waterbodies like Lake of the Ozarks and Table Rock to smaller, less recognized lakes, Missouri’s world class fisheries as well distributed throughout the State. Whether you’re coming from Kansas City or St Louis or from out-of-state, there’s a lake for your next adventure where you’ll have a chance to catch a personal best. We kick off this list with an obvious one in Lake of the Ozarks and another 9 lakes that wrap up our 10 best bass lakes in Missouri. We’ve linked to Omnia Fishing’s lake page for each waterbody where anglers can buy the gear they need for the specific time of year, species, and lake conditions. Each of these lakes fishes a little different based on forage, structure, type of lake, and water clarity. Ambassadors and other anglers have posted fishing reports for each season to identify what products are catching fish.
Lake Of The Ozarks
Want to catch a 9 pounder? Lake of the Ozarks is a 54,000-acre lake in Missouri with a max depth of 130 feet created by damming the Osage River. An absolutely massive waterbody, Lake of the Ozarks has over 1,150 miles of moderately developed shoreline which is longer than the coastline of the entire State of California. The Lake contains a large number of fish species including crappie, catfish, white bass, hybrid stripers, spotted bass, largemouth bass, paddlefish, walleye, and bluegill. The Lake is both a top bass lake and trophy crappie destination. The lake contains plenty of fish-attracting cover and lake structure including boat docks, brush piles, ledges, creek channels, points, and humps. Largemouth can be found in spawning patterns in shallow water in spring months like March but as things heat up in April they’ll move to hard bottom banks in transition. During this time, they can be found with football jigs with soft plastic trailers and spinnerbaits. As the water warms in May, these largemouth bass can be caught with topwater baits until they move to much deeper water in the heat of the summer. Deeper fish can be found on submerged structure with deep diving crank baits and a wide range of finesse tactics. Slot limits exist for both crappie and bass which was contributed to a healthy population of both species. It isn’t uncommon to find 8-9 pound largemouth in Lake of the Ozarks, especially in the spring months as bass are evenly distributed throughout the lake's arms and coves. Spotted bass can be found near rocks and deep drop offs. Find the structure and you’ll find the fish on this big Lake.
Lake Of The Ozarks ()
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Table Rock Lake boasts more than 52,000-acres of water and more than 800 miles of shoreline. Fish species present include largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, crappie, bluegill, catfish, and some white bass. Largemouth are an angler favorite on Table Rock Lake due to the abundance and size. In the spring bass will be found in the shallows and creek arms getting ready to spawn and looking for that warm water. In the summer and winter they’re found in the deeper spots on the lake where marine electronics can help you locate ledges and submerged structure like brush piles. Bass prefer subtle presentations during these times of the year. In the Fall largemouth bass will be found back up in the shallows where they’re chasing shad and putting on the feedbags for winter. Finding 6-pound bass on Table Rock isn’t out of the question and even bigger fish can be caught by the experienced angler. Give the James River and Long Creek arms a try in the spring and fall where large congregations of shad help bass put on weight with less effort and crappie can be caught with smaller presentations. During spring target shallow structure and docks with spinnerbaits and flipping jigs with trailers. You can’t go wrong with some small football jigs, with Chomper brand Twintail Grubs. Table Rock is mainly located in Missouri, but the upper portions of the Long Creek, Kings River, and White River all reach into Arkansas, so make sure you have the proper licensing for fishing these sections.
Table Rock Lake (AR, MO)
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Truman Reservoir is a more than 55,000-acre of water reservoir in Missouri, Southeast of Kansas City. Species present include largemouth bass, catfish, spotted bass, crappie, walleye, white bass, striped bass and paddlefish. With over 900 miles of shoreline, Truman reservoir offers some of the best bank fishing opportunities for large bass in the spring and fall seasons when they’re transitioning to spawn for feeding up for winter. Largemouth bass can be found throughout the Truman Reservoir but focus in on the South Grand Arm if that’s close to your launch area. Osage Arm between Talley Bend and Berry Bend downstream to the dam are also great holders of big largemouth. Target these fish in late winter and early spring as the water warms and fish move up to spawn. Spinnerbaits make a great play for grabbing a largemouth’s attention. Suspending jerkbaits and other search baits will help you cover lots of water to find suspending fish in the summer and winter patterns. Brush piles have been placed throughout the Lake to attract and support black bass, among other species.
In addition to being a world class largemouth and crappie fishery, Truman is considered one of the top cat fishing lakes in the State of Missouri. Truman has relatively clear water so consider more natural color patterns on your baits, skirts, and low line visibility. Use caution when navigating areas of submerged stumps. You’ll find largemouth bass but might need to find someone to repair you lower unit as well.
Harry S Truman Reservoir (MO)
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Bull Shoals Lake is a 45,000-acre reservoir with over 700-miles of shoreline in the Ozark Mountains. The Lake has a max depth of 210 feet and average depth of just over 75 feet at normal pool. The lake was created by damming the White River for flood control and hydroelectric generation near the border of Missouri and Arkansas. While a large majority of the surface acres are in the State of Arkansas, many creek arms called hollows are located within the State Missouri and includes Bratton Spring Creek. Within the same river system, Bull Shoals Lake sits to the east of the massive Table Rock with the narrow, but impressive fishery of Lake Taneycomo in between them. While there is little vegetation in Bull Shoals, natural and man-made structures include deep water channels, rock formations, points, submerged islands, flooded timber and cut trees that have been secured to the bottom with concrete anchors. Anglers commonly target largemouth bass, spotted bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, catfish, rainbow trout and white bass. Crappie and panfish can also be found throughout the Bull Shoals Lake. The water is clear so anglers should consider invisible line and natural color patterns on all tackle. Popular marinas in the area include Lakefiew, Buck Creek and Sugarloaf Marinas on the Arkansas side and Pontiac and Theodosia Marinas on the Missouri side.
Bull Shoals Lake (AR, MO)
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Mark Twain Lake
Mark Twain Lake is a 18,550-acre Lake between Kansas City and St louis that was created through the authorization of the Flood Control Act of Congress in 1962 and development of the Clarence Cannon Dam shortly thereafter. The max depth of Mark Twain is 85 feet with fish species including largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, panfish and some walleye. White bass abundance has also been increasing in recent years and you can find them busting shad near the surface. Although smaller in size, Mark Twain Reservoir has been described as a smaller Truman Reservoir based on its similar low water clarity, standing timber, and frequent water level fluctuations. Use bigger spinner bait blades and bright colors like chartreuse or contrasting colors like black and blue to get the attention of bass and crappie in this low clarity lake. Recent surveys of largemouth bass by the Missouri Department of Conservation have indicated both an abundance of quantity and quality of largemouth making Mark Twain a great destination lake.
Mark Twain Lake ()
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Stockton is a 25,000-acre lake in the Southern part of Missouri, just north of Springfield. Although it’s max depth of 100 feet isn’t nearly as deep as many Missouri lakes, it’s average depth of 60 feet proves that Stockton drops off fast! Water in the cooler, average depths does support colder water species like smallmouth and walleye. Smallmouth, like spotted bass in Stockton Lake are predominantly found in larger concentrations in the lower portions of the Lake. Largemouth, the top targeted species, are found more frequently in the upper sections of this impoundment. High water levels in the last few years has increased the spawning productivity of fish in Stockton Lake. Spawning success with the slot limit should ensure a quality fishery for years to come. Catfish, bluegill, and white bass can also be caught in Stockton. This lake is known for producing big bass in the 8-9-pound range. Big baits can mean big fish so increase sizes and lengths of your soft plastics for a larger presentation. 10-inch worms on 6/0 hooks thrown near some of the submerged brush piles and other man-made structure can produce big fish results.
Stockton Lake ()
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Taneycomo Lake is a narrow 2,100-acre, clear and cold-water Lake that sits between Table Rock Lake and Bull Shoals Reservoir in Southwest Missouri. Taneycomo operates like both a river and a lake based on its position on the White River. Rainbow and Brown Trout are a top attractor of anglers to the area but largemouth bass are also present and make up a majority the targeted species for anglers. Most bass are found in the warmer section of Lake Taneycomo. Only a small percentage of sampled largemouth bass were over 18 inches, much less than many fisheries in the State. However, almost half of species sampled through electrofishing were above 15 inches. You might not find a 10-pounder but you have a chance to catch a lot of big ones that have been feeding on trout. All anglers fishing in Lake Taneycomo must have a trout permit if fishing upstream from the highway 65 bridge.
Lake Taneycomo (MO)
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Pomme De Terre Lake
Pomme De Terre Reservoir is 7,800-surface acre lake parked between Stockton Lake to the southwest and the giants Truman Reservoir and Lake of the Ozarks to the northeast. Species of fish in Pomme De Terre include crappie, largemouth bass, muskie, spotted bass, catfish and walleye. Top targeted species is largemouth bass but recent surveys suggest that anglers have a great chance to catch muskie and crappie as well, based on numbers. Shad production has been high in recent years which has lead to healthier and faster growing largemouth bass populations. In a survey by the Missouri Department of Conservation, over 50% of sampled largemouth were 13 and 18 inches and 30% were greater than 15 inches. Spinnerbaits work great in the spring with finesse techniques in deeper water in the summer. Walleye currently have a 15-inch minimum but based on stocking strategies, many fish over 15-inches can be found. Walleye are normally hanging near brush piles in cooler water so electronics can help eliminate unproductive waters quickly. The depth of the Pomme De Terre can cause thermoclines to develop in the summer which will force all fish to the top 20 feet of the Lake. Consider search and jerk baits that give you the power to let your bait sink and fish multiple strike zones to find suspended fish.
Pomme de Terre Lake (MO)
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This one might be a surprise add to our top 10 but we had to include it based on the recent survey results. Mozingo Lake is a relatively small (for the area) 1,060-acre lake directly north of Kansas City on the Nebraska border. While many large reservoirs in the State of Missouri and across the United States boast of their surveys of some fish above 15 inches, recent surveys by the Missouri Department of Conservation found almost half of largemouth bass sampled were above this mark. 15% of largemouth were over 18 inches and a few weighed in over 8-pounds. Some of this size is credited for the slot limit in place for 12-15 inches. Anglers should target brush piles, submerged plant weedlines, rocky points and protected coves where shad might be congregating. Finding structure is key so using electronics can eliminate dead water. Additional species in Mozingo Lake include crappie, walleye, and catfish. You can contact the Missouri Department of Conservation at (816) 271-3100 with questions about these surveys.
Jacomo Lake: At 970 acres in the Southeast suburbs of Kansas City, Missouri, Lake Jacomo, compared to most lakes in Missouri on this list, is tiny. It is located in a gigantic park and preserve so outdoor activities are nearly endless for the whole family. Blue Springs Lake is a 720-acre lake in the same conservation area and sits just to the north of Jacomo as an alternative. Lake Jacomo is one of the best small-lake largemouth bass fisheries in Missouri and its proximity to Kansas City provide abundance resources for food and overnight stays. Largemouth can be found near shore and in and around coontails in the spring and fall. As the waters warm in the spring they can be caught with topwater frogs and buzzbaits. Largemouth will move deeper in the summer heat where they can be caught with slower and less erratic crankbait presentations and a number of finesse techniques like wacky and ned rigging. Other species present include catfish, white bass, walleye, and bluegill. Zebra mussels were found in Lake Jacomo in 2017 which has and will continue to lead to higher water clarities in the coming years.
Lake Jacomo (MO)
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That wraps up the top 10 best largemouth bass lakes in Missouri. Arguably, some of these could make a top 10 national list. There’s no question that there are a lot of great bass lakes in Missouri. We tried to keep this list to our top 10 but there are 5 additional lakes to consider in Missouri that we had to mention. These 10-15 honorable mentions include Norfolk, Montrose, Smithville, Clearwater, and, maybe surprisingly, Bilby Ranch Lake.
By most National standards, Norfolk is a top 10 fishery in almost any State. It just missed our list of top 10 bass lakes in Missouri but did reach the top honorable mention. Norfolk is a 22,000-acre lake with a majority of it in Arkansas. Species present include white bass, hybrid striped bass, and largemouth. Lake levels have been high in recent years which has made it harder to catch fish but has supported healthier and more productive spawns. When water is in the low 40s a slow presentation of a jig a trailer work well near shore. Spinnerbaits, tube baits, and crank baits with progressively faster retrieves will catch bass as the water warms towards spawn at 70 degrees. Post spawn fish will hit on buzz baits and topwater before transitioning to deeper water where they’ll be caught with finesse techniques. Norfolk has built a reputation as a top bass fishery for the last 50 years and consistently produces giant bags. Since a big portion of it is in Arkansas, we’ll include it on the best lakes in Arkansas list.
Norfork Lake (AR, MO)
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Montrose Lake is a 1,600-acre lake in Henry County. The lake includes a surrounding 3,400 acres of land that has been marked as a conservation district. The Lake was created by damming a number of creeks including the Deepwater, Granddaddy, and Camp Creeks. Fish species in Montrose include largemouth bass, catfish, crappie. Although catfishing is a top angler attraction, largemouth bass are present in size and quantity. Don’t tell anyone but, they can also be found upstream in the Deepwater Creek. Black bass are nearly 100% catch and release with a minimum of 18 inches. The water from Montrose is used to cool the utility power plant which keeps the Lake warmer all year long. This can encourage spawning earlier in the year, fish to move deeper earlier, and up shallow later in the fall. Look for fell trees, riprap and other structure to find above average largemouth bass on what appears to be a featureless lake. The water is muddy so increase blade sizes and bright colors on your tackle selection.
Smithville Lake is a 7,200-acre Reservoir on the Little Platte River with a maximum depth of 60 feet. Clarity of the Lake is relatively low with visibilities of just about 3 feet on average. Smithville is a prized and well visited lake due to its proximity to Kansas City in Missouri. Smithville is a trophy largemouth bass fishery thanks to stocking efforts, but anglers can also catch crappie, catfish and occasional walleye. Spinner baits during the spawn with a transition to finesse techniques further offshore during the summer heat can yield good catching results. In 2019 water levels were higher than in previous years which made fishing tough but did set ideal conditions to spawn and growth. The Missouri Department of Conservation has recently installed man-made structures including brush piles and cut tress to hold and protect fish. Locating these areas with sonar and targeting them with jig and trailer has proven successful in the past. Smithville’s rocky shoreline provides great opportunities for bank anglers, especially in spring and fall.
Smithville Lake (MO)
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Clearwater Lake is an incredible fishery for a wide number of species but not necessarily just largemouth. It didn’t make the list for top largemouth lake but it’s a top choice for anglers looking to catch a bunch species in a single trip. Clearwater Lake is a 1,650-acre reservoir located on the Black River, directly south of St Louis near Piedmont, Missouri. The access and boat launch can be found on the Southeast side of the Lake. Clearwater Lake is almost entirely surrounded by the Clearwater Conservation Area. Gizzard shad are present in large numbers in Clearwater and are a key source of forage for largemouth bass present in the lake. Catfish, crappie, and white bass can also be found in Clearwater. Spotted bass in the lake have been surveyed at over 17 inches are present and the Department of Conservation suggests locating these big fish along the bluff banks in this scenic Lake. Excellent walleye fishing opportunities can be found in the colder water south of the Clearwater dam. Smallmouth and rock bass can be found in the Black River upstream from the Clearwater Lake dam.
Clearwater Lake (MO)
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Bilby Ranch Lake
Bilby is our surprise add to round out our honorable mentions. Bilby Ranch is a 110-acre Lake with a max depth of 36 feet and is located within the Bilby Ranch Conservation Area in Missouri. The lake can be accessed from a boat ramp on the south side just off highway 46. Bilby Ranch has above average largemouth sample size and receives very little fishing pressure. Species include largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, bluegill, and the occasional walleye from previous stockings. One thing working against anglers is that there’s lots of forage to eat in Bilby Ranch. A dense population of gizzard shad help keep fish growing so shad-imitating crankbaits perform well. To increase success, anglers can focus on areas near the dam and upper arms of the Lake where they can locate subsurface brush piles, riprap, and flooded timber. Recent surveys have shown some of the highest sample rates of fish over 15 and 18 inches in area lakes. Bilby should not be overlooked when considering a destination to catch big fish.
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