"A bad day of fishing is better than any day at work."
We’re all holding our breaths for news of how an impending federal government shutdown might affect local government facilities, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-administered Mark Twain Lake. One bright spot: We haven’t heard yet that fishing amenities, one of the lake’s biggest draws, would be affected — and the Missouri Department of Conservation says great fishing prospects await visitors to Northeast Missouri’s biggest lake this spring.
After a few years of smaller-than-usual crappie in Mark Twain Lake, MDC Fisheries Management Biologist Ross Dames says crappie growth is up after a population explosion among gizzard shad, the small prey on which crappie feed, brought on by frequent rain and high lake levels. With those conditions falling into place, surveys indicate that there are more 9-inch or longer crappie than ever in the lake, which Dames said should make for fantastic crappie fishing if weather and fishing conditions cooperate.
The bass fishing outlook is a bit more uncertain. Although weather and lake conditions have played havoc with that type of fishing and high lake levels in the last two years prevented population surveys, tournament fishing reports were good in those years. If lake conditions remain stable, bass fishing should be good, Dames said.
Finally, as spring rolls into summer, catfish fishing should be terrific this year in the upper portions of the lake like the North Fork, Middle Fork and South Fork of the lake. Flathead catfish weighing 25 pounds or more are a common sight on the other end of fishing lines in these areas.
“If you’re a regular visitor to Mark Twain Lake, you can look forward to better fishing this year, and the rest of you should strongly consider adding this scenic reservoir to your destination list for 2011,” Dames said.
To see if the shutdown will affect your plans to fish out there, keep checking the Army Corps of Engineers’ Facebook page for the St. Louis District (which includes Mark Twain Lake).