An Angler's Guide to Mark Twain Lake

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Published on: Jun. 2, 2004

Last revision: Nov. 16, 2010

the last time out doesn't mean you'll catch them again," he said. His normal approach is to move slowly with the trolling motor, casting into thick cover until he finds crappie.


Largemouth bass fishing is very popular at Mark Twain Lake. Clyde Oligschlager of Perry has fished bass waters all over the nation on the professional bass fishing circuit, but these days he limits himself to local buddy tournaments on Mark Twain.

He said Mark Twain Lake has been very good for bass fishing for about five years, and this year has been one of the best in terms of large fish. "But, by gosh, it can be challenging," he said.

He said Mark Twain, with its clearcut main lake and coves full of flooded timber, is like a miniature Truman Lake. He said the lake fishes like any other reservoir, but it seems more finicky.

"We like to say that if you can consistently catch bass on Mark Twain, you can catch them anywhere," he said. "It's not that the fishing isn't good. It's just that the lake can completely shut down on you. You might get on a pattern during the week, but more likely than not it won't hold during the weekend."

Oligschlager said angling pressure from numerous tournaments probably has made the lake's bass smarter.

"There are a couple hundred bass tournaments a year," he said. "All of them are catch and release, though. Tournament fishing value bass too much to keep them."

Anglers can catch bass in shallow water--down to 12 feet--all year long at Mark Twain. Oligschlager suggested newcomers to the lake start fishing with a Texas-rigged plastic worm.

"Tests in aquariums have shown that the plastic worm is the lure the bass forget the quickest," he said.

He said shallow-diving crankbaits work well in flooded timber in spring and early summer, and topwater baits work well early and late in the day when the lake warms up. Summer anglers also do well casting big worms into the tree tops.

Oligschlager believes Mark Twain Lake holds bass that seldom see a lure.

"Most bass fishermen tend toward the shoreline, and the fish there get hit hard. Some structure away from the shoreline, however, like old road beds and humps and the edges of feeding flats, doesn't get fished."

Night fishing also can be good on the lake. Anglers should be extra cautious,

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