Fishing Missouri's Big Rivers

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Published on: Aug. 2, 1995

Last revision: Oct. 20, 2010

scaled carp, leather carp or mirror carp, the common carp was introduced into the Missouri and Mississippi rivers in the late 1800s. The fish have become well established and compete for food and habitat with native big river fishes.

Carp are renowned for their fighting ability. This attribute aside, when taken from good quality water, scoured, rolled in a corn meal and flour mixture and fried at 385 degrees, the "lowly" carp is good to eat. Carp can adapt to mostwater conditions and use all habitats along both rivers.

Tightline fishing around submerged brush or above a rock wing dike is a good method for carp. Many anglers fish with dough bait and have their own special doughball recipe. But carp aren't particular and will also bite on earthworms. Dawn and dusk are good times of the day to catch carp, and the best time of the year is from late June through September.

Walleye and Sauger

Heralded for their excellent flavor, both sauger and walleye are popular big river sport fish. They're most abundant during cold weather below the upper Mississippi River locks and dams. Sauger are more commonly caught than walleye, although identical fishing techniques are used.

The ideal time to catch sauger and walleye begins with cooling water temperatures during late September and lasts through mid-March. Many anglers anchor their boats below and to the side of the fast current passing through, the dam gates. They fish the "current break" between swift and slow moving water. Good baits are a 3/8th-ounce leadhead jig tipped with a live minnow or a minnow alone, and some anglers try a variety of crank baits.

During summer, walleye and sauger are caught from the upstream faces of wing dikes by trolling a nightcrawler along the base of the dike. Cast the bait above the dike and then slowly back troll the length of the wing dike. To prevent losing hooks and sinkers, constantly pump the rod-tip. This will keep the bait or sinker from lodging in rock crevices.

Freshwater Drum

Also known as as white perch, sheepshead, gaspergou, goo, croaker, silver bass or grunt, drum are common in both of Missouri's big rivers. Drum prefer swift water. Fish for them in the main channel border, immediately below locks and dams and in flowing side channels. The best bait is an earthworm, but you can also catch them on a variety of natural and artificial baits. Some anglers even catch

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