The Center of It All
Residents and visitors to central Missouri will find a variety of options for outdoor recreation. Hunters, anglers, hikers, photographers and other outdoor enthusiasts will find most of these convenient to highways 50, 54, 63 and 70.
The Missouri Department of Conservation refers to this portion of the state as the Central Region. The Central Region is made up of 15 counties that are organized for management purposes. The Department’s management objectives include providing diverse outdoor recreational opportunities for the public.
While one short article could never encompass all the recreational potential of the Central Region, we’ll take a look at some of the key areas and features in the region and a few activities to explore.
No description of central Missouri would be complete without mention of the Missouri River. Perhaps the most dominant feature in the region, the Missouri flows roughly from northwest to southeast, 265 miles through the region. This dynamic river provides vital habitat for fish and wildlife, and the bottomlands along the river provide access and opportunities for anglers, hunters, photographers and other resource users.
Anglers have long recognized the Missouri River as the place to be for catching catfish. Channel catfish, blue catfish and flatheads are eagerly sought after by bank-fishers and those in boats. Catching a real trophy fish is likely on this river. Flatheads and blues in excess of 50 pounds are not uncommon. Record-breaking or not, though, it’s hard to beat a plate full of deep-fried flathead.
The areas behind and along the wing dikes and sandbars are good locations to set trot lines, limb lines, bank lines or to cast your rod and reel in search of these whiskered fish.
Waterfowl hunters also target the slack water behind the dikes and the islands. Ducks and geese often use the river as a migratory flyway, stopping to rest and feed in those areas.
Those who hunt along the river find a mixed bag of waterfowl. Ducks may include mallards, teal, scaup, ringneck and goldeneyes. Canada, snows and white-fronted geese also use these areas and can make for an exciting hunt when they come through Missouri in the fall and winter.
The Department developed and currently maintains 10 Missouri River access sites with boat ramps in the region. These areas are located on both sides of the river, making them convenient for people to access.
The conservation areas along the Missouri River are another great resource. These areas serve as important buffers—protecting