Annual Prospects Report
Anglers fishing for smallmouth bass in the Gasconade River's special management area, in Phelps and Pulaski counties report good fishing year-round, but especially in the winter months. Smallmouth bass from 11-15 inches are more abundant in this section than upstream or downstream areas. Historically, this section of river has had a strong smallmouth population, but the effects of continued flooding since 2011 is being noticed. Fall 2022 samples indicate a continue decrease in the adult population of smallmouth bass, and anglers reports during 2020 thru 2022 continue to support this. A variety of baits can be effective, but anglers using larger crayfish imitations or shallow running crankbaits. Large smallmouth bass can be found in deep areas of the river, below riffles. During 2021 most smallmouth bass will be in the 7 to 11-inch range, but fish over 18 inches can be found in the large pools in this section of river.
The largemouth bass population within this section remains consistent for the past two decades. Largemouth bass prefer the slow waters of large pools and fish over 18 inches and 3 pounds are common throughout the reach. Fish the side channels and slow water to find them consistently. Angler reports, indicate an increase in spotted or Kentucky bass in this portion of the river, this trend will hopefully reverse should we experience less catastrophic flooding. Anglers are encouraged to harvest any legal-sized spotted bass they catch. Spotted bass are consistently growing to 12 inches and spotted bass up to 15 inches can be caught.
Fishing pressure for rock bass/goggle-eye is consistent throughout the area for most of the year. The recent frequent flooding has negatively impacted spawning success of the rock bass population, which is dominated by only larger adults, however in 2021 a crop of small 2-inch fish were found. Vegetation recovery in pools is still in progress but having a postive impact on the rock bass population.
Anglers fishing for channel catfish can expect to catch high numbers of fish with specimens larger than 20 inches occurring on a regular basis, as well as the opportunity for fish even larger. Channel catfish are continually found in rootwads associated with good flow during the day and in pools downstream of these areas at night, searching for food. Bluegill, redear sunfish, green sunfish, walleye and flathead catfish can all be found in good numbers in this area as well. Try for crappie in deep, slow areas and you could be surprised. The Gasconade River throughout its middle portion can produce wonderful days on the water, and you never know what fish you may pull into the boat.
This area starts north of St. Robert at the end of Hwy Y (Riddle Bridge Access) and ends at the Hwy D bridge at Jerome, MO. Please check the status of these stream accesses on www.missouriconservation.com to make sure they are open and not closed for maintenance or due to flood damage.