Why Go to Wappapello?

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Published on: Mar. 2, 2006

Last revision: Nov. 23, 2010

fishermen like Robinson, who said, “They can be fun, but sometimes you just have to get away from them.”

His technique for avoiding white bass might help you catch them. He said white bass usually won’t chase down a bait the way a bass will. “If you stop it during the retrieve and there are any whites around,” he said, “that’s when they’ll show up.”

Anglers also target channel cats and flatheads at Wappapello. Many nice flatheads are taken near the face of the dam and in the backs of coves.

The lake’s upper reaches, which more resemble a river, occasionally yield smallmouth bass.

Three C’s in Success

It’s rare when fishing improves in old reservoirs. A lake that’s been around as long as Wappapello (since 1941) accumulates a lot of silt, and the timber and cover habitat left when the lake was created breaks down, reducing the amount of cover available to fish.

Improving the fishing at Wappapello requires cooperation among three “C’s”: The Corps of Engineers, which manages the lake; the Conservation Department, which manages the fishery in the lake; and concerned anglers willing to work to help the lake produce more fish.

Anglers are very involved in Wappapello’s welfare. More than 200 of them, for example, attended a public meeting concerning new crappie regulations at the lake. It was standing room only at the meeting, and most of the anglers supported imposing a 9-inch length limit, even though it would make catching a limit more difficult.

According to Boone, the new regulation is a good example of how the Corps, the Conservation Department and anglers are working together to ensure good fishing at Wappapello.

“Anglers first petitioned the Department to put a minimum length limit on crappie and reduce the daily limit,” he said. The Corps and the Conservation Department then conducted complementary studies to determine what regulations would work best on the lake.

“We then asked anglers at a public meeting if they would support our recommendations,” Boone said.

Nearly 75 percent of anglers favored the 9-inch length limit, and about the same percentage opposed any decrease in the harvest limit.

The new regulations, which go into effect March 1 of this year (2006), are a compromise. They impose a minimum length limit of 9 inches on crappie from Wappapello but leave the harvest limit at 30.

“It should work,” Boone said. “It’s not hard to catch 30 crappie now, but it will be more difficult to catch 30 of them longer than 9 inches. Anglers should release more crappie, so we should end up with more and bigger fish.”

Bassmaster President Robinson said he remembers when the Corps at Wappapello Lake took the position that they are into water management, and not fishing.

“The people I’m meeting with now,” he said, “are saying if there is something they can do to help the fishing as they manage the lake for flood control, why not do it?”

Lake Wappapello Profile

  • Location: Wayne and Butler counties in southeast Missouri.
  • Size: 8,400 acres at recreational pool.
  • History: Completed in 1941 as an impoundment of the St. Francis River. Operated by the Corps of Engineers for flood control, hydroelectric power generation and recreational use.
  • Average depth: 7.5 feet at recreational pool.
  • Access: 26 public boat ramps.
  • Amenities: Food, fuel and fishing bait available at nearby marinas, resorts and businesses. Public facilities also cater to swimmers, recreational boaters, hikers, sightseers, hikers and picnickers.
  • Contacts: For lake information, including a map of marked fishattracting structures, go to For 24-hour information about Lake Wappapello, call toll-free (877) 525-3463 or (877) LAKEINFO.

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