The smallmouth bass fishing available in Missouri is well known, but sometimes is overshadowed by some of the other fishing opportunities throughout the state. Many fly fishermen target trout in the various streams, trout parks, and lakes that hold trout or are stalked. Many bass fishermen target the largemouth version of the species. This article will give a rundown on a quite a few of the better streams.
Big Piney River
The Big Piney River is an excellent smallmouth stream. One of the first Ozark rivers to receive special smallmouth bass regulations, this stream has long been viewed as a special asset for smallmouth fisherman. The Big Piney is clear, spring-fed stream with excellent fishing for heritage strain smallmouth bass. It would be hard to find a river with better scenery or smallmouth bass fishing.
The Current River is also an excellent smallmouth stream. Rising from springs deep in the Ozarks, the Current is one of the prettiest in the state. Several reaches of the river offer myriad possibilities for the smallmouth angler. With about 120 miles of fishable water on the river, there are many excellent areas on the river.
Eleven Point River
The Eleven Point is one of the most scenic streams in the Ozarks, and the smallmouth bass fishing is excellent as well. The Eleven Point holds a smallmouth population from it’s headwater deep in the Ozark Mountains all the way into Arkansas. In all, there is about fifty miles of smallmouth water on the Eleven Point, ranging from small, wadeable stream, to large river.
The Gasconade River is the longest river that flows entirely through Missouri, and every mile of it holds smallmouth bass. The Gasconade is one of the rivers that seems too good to be true, a 250 mile river with good numbers of smallmouth bass throughout. Many people say that it is the best smallmouth bass river in the nation, and there is merit to that claim. There are few other streams in the country with so much smallmouth water, so many fish, and as many trophy sized smallmouth.
Huzzah Creek is an often overlooked smallmouth stream. Located in the middle of great smallmouth bass country, it is easy to see how fisherman can look past this little gem. Still, this creek has been producing high quality smallmouth bass angling for years, and those who are familiar with it can vouch for it’s productivity.
Compared to the other waters on this list, the Huzzah is a small stream. It doesn’t widen into deep, slow pools like many of our Ozark streams do. Still, the habitat is certainly there. There are some deep, if short pools, that are studded with boulders, weeds, and woody cover. There are also many fast runs where smallmouth bass like to hold, especially when they are feeding actively on crayfish and insects.
Jacks Fork River
The Jacks Fork River is one of the best in the Ozarks. Flowing through beautiful Ozark canyons and hills, this stream has much to offer both in the way of smallmouth and scenery. This popular float fishing stream flows through beautiful, remote territory, and is truly a sight to see.
As Ozark streams go, the Jacks Fork is more isolated than most. Simply put, it is located in the middle of nowhere. Starting high in the Ozark hills, and floating through the beautiful Ozark plateau all the way to it’s mouth at the Current River. It is a high gradient river, and is heavily spring-fed. Both of these attributes predispose the Jacks Fork to excellence as a smallmouth stream. The river has an abundance of riffles and deep pools, and has an excellent food supply. It has been largely untouched by man, especially now, due to the fact that it is protected by the Ozark National Scenic Riverways Park. Add on the river’s easy access, and you have a nearly perfect stream.
The Meramec River is a fine smallmouth stream. Flowing through the beautiful foothills of the Ozarks, this stream has much to offer to the serious and casual smallmouth fisherman. This is one of the most popular, if not the most popular smallmouth stream in Missouri, and there is also quite a bit of recreational floating traffic. Still, the Meramec has an excellent fishery and the fishing is good enough that these difficulties can seem unimportant.
The Niangua River is one of the best smallmouth streams in the state. While the Niangua is primarily known for it’s excellent trout fishery below Bennett Spring, the smallmouth fishery is excellent as well. The river has miles of classic smallmouth habitat with many gentle riffles, and deep, oxygenated pools. It is a prototypical Ozark stream with above average smallmouth fishing.
Other Smallmouth Streams in Missouri
Other great smallmouth streams in Missouri include the Big River, Black River, Bourbeuse River, Elk River, James River, Moreau River, North Fork of the White River, St. Francis River, and the Salt River.