Missouri's Great Lakes: Stockton Lake

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Published on: Apr. 2, 2003

Last revision: Nov. 15, 2010

signs on the shoreline. A lake map and a depthfinder will help you find them and other good fishing spots.

At nearly 25,000 acres and with almost 300 miles of shoreline, Stockton Lake is big enough to get lost in, or at least to provoke someone who is visiting the lake for the first time to ask, "Where in all that water should I start?"

There's nobody more qualified to answer that question than Stockton "regulars," people who have learned the lake's secrets by fishing there for much of their lives.

Flying white bass

Paul Henry of Springfield finds all the action he can handle at Stockton by attacking the fringes of the lake with a fly rod.

"I don't bother with boats," he said. "It's much easier to slip waders on and not have to worry about a dead battery or a bad trolling motor and all those problems, I just put my waders on, get into my car and go. Everything I need fits into my fishing vest."

Henry looks for points that wind is blowing into. "Wind is very important," he said, and you don't have to make long casts into it. The fish come right into the bank. The waders let me get out into the water if I need to."

He moves from point to point until he finds fish. The nice thing about Stockton is you can get in from many different places," he said. His favorite spot is Masters Recreation Area, because it allows him to easily reach a lot of good fishing water.

Henry's primary target is white bass and his best action comes in spring. "It starts getting good about the first of March and lasts until early May," he said. "April is the best month." He said the same tactics work well from late summer through fall.

He casts 2 1/2-inch, lightly weighted streamers that he ties himself or 1/100- or 1/80-ounce jigs, usually light or bright colors. Henry said the streamers work better when white bass are feeding on shad near the surface. "Sometimes you can actually see the seagulls feeding, or you'll see the water just kind of boiling," Henry said. "Even when the big shad are around, the white bass are still nearby, and the small lures work."

Henry rips his lures briskly through the water, stripping the line in by hand. When he hooks a big fish,

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