Fishing Missouri's Big Rivers

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Published on: Aug. 2, 1995

Last revision: Oct. 20, 2010

Girardeau County

  • 74 Apple Cre ek C.A.
  • 75 Trail of Tears State Park
  • 76 Headwaters Ac.

Scott County

  • 77 Commerce Park

Mississippi County

  • 78 Joseph Hunter Moore Ac.
  • 79 Dorena Ac.
  • 80 Seven Island C.A.

New Madrid County

  • 81 Donaldson Point C.A.
  • 82 St. John's Bayou Ac.
  • 83 New Madrid Bend Ac.

Pemiscot County

  • 84 Gayoso Bend C.A.
  • 85 S.P. Reynolds Ac.

Fishing and Floods

What effects did the 1993 flood have on fishing success? That depends on the time perspective of the question.

During the Flood

Fish were able to access the entire river floodplain for feeding, spawning, escape and growth. Big river fish have evolved their reproductive cycle to the natural occurrence of floods. They rely on floods to successfully spawn and for the young to survive.

That's why the Flood of 1993 was so beneficial to fish. In the past, what would be considered a "normal flood" (i.e. much smaller magnitude than '93 flood) would flood bottomlands and benefit the fish. Over time, construction of levees has prevented this from happening.

Spawning and nursery areas were created as the water saturated the vegetated floodplains. Big river fish could move into these areas, away from the strong current, to spawn and rear their young. The flooded bottomlands provided protected homes to young growing fish which returned to the river when levels dropped.

A few fish were stranded as waters receded, and died. Most, however, found their way back to the river safely.

Little sport or commercial fishing could take place. Access to the rivers was restricted by blocked roads and damaged ramps and parking lots. Also, the Coast Guard and the Corps officially closed the rivers to recreational and commercial activities because of the danger to levees.

Fish populations experienced little angling pressure, growth was excellent, and reproductive success was the best that it had been in years.

After the Flood

Fish were able to take advantage of the new habitat created "off-channel." This enabled them to continue accelerated growth and reproductive success. The 1995 floods will make new blew holes and create even more habitat.

More and larger game and non-game fish were available for anglers who have enjoyed the "bounty" of the 1993 flood.

If we are successful in protecting and preserving habitats for aquatic life created by the flood, we will see improved fishing on the Missouri and Mississippi rivers for years to come.


Have you ever wondered why some anglers catch more fish than others? Usually it's because the successful anglers are familiar with the habitat they fish. The Missouri and Mississippi

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