Watkins Mill State Park Lake


Bluegill, channel catfish, largemouth bass are proven stocking combination that provides both food and sport-fishing. When stocked in this order and properly managed, these species provide great fishing and good eating.

Annual Prospects Report

Watkins Mill is a 100-acre lake near Excelsior Springs, owned by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, and the fish are managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation.  Largemouth bass should continue to provide some of the better bass fishing in the region. Fish over 18 inches are common. Spinnerbaits and topwater lures work well when water temperatures are around 70 degrees.  Slower fished baits like crankbaits and plastics work better in colder or warmer water.  During the summer months, the bass will be in the brush piles, standing timber and along edges of vegetation.  Bass move shallow to spawn in the spring and to feed in the fall. Bluegill fishing should continue to be fair with fish up to 7-inches in length. Concentrate around stumps and in the back of coves during May using the same methods as you would for redear sunfish.  Redear sunfish fishing should continue to be good and provide a chance to catch a Master Angler-sized fish (greater-than 10-inches).  Redear sunfish are a relative of the bluegill with smaller mouths requiring a smaller hook. A piece of worm or a fly rod with a small nymph will produce some of the best sunfish fishing around.  Their spawning activity will often produce a muddy circle of water along the shoreline.

The crappie population has historically been comprised of stunted crappie averaging about 8 inches. However, the average size of fish and number of fish over 10-inches in length has been steadily increasing.  Crappie fishing pressure has increased, which is good for the crappie population. Anglers are encouraged to continue to harvest all sizes of crappie caught up to the daily limit of 30 in order to keep improving the population. The best fishing is during the spawn off points, around shallow, woody cover and rocky banks.  Jigs or minnows work equally well during the spawn.   To help anglers target crappie year-round, brush piles have been added to the lake. Brush pile locations can be found online in our interactive map and in our free MO Fishing app.  Channel catfish grow fast in Watkins Mill Lake and are in excellent condition.  The population is maintained by annually stocking each fall. Typical catfish baits fished off points and in the shallows will yield some very healthy fish.  The catfish will concentrate on the face of the dam the first week of June to spawn but the resulting hatch is quickly devoured by bass.  They can be caught using live bait along the face of the dam when spawning. 

Hyprid striped bass are an addition to the lake.  These fish are growing quickly and the early stocking are now legal length. Look for schooling hybrid stripers chasing shad and cast crankbaits, large crappie jigs or jigging spoons to the surfacing fish. Trolling shad-colored crankbaits can help locate hybrid stripers when they aren't schooling. Windy points, mouths of coves and drop-offs are good places to troll when looking for schools.

Watkin's Mill is currently "zebra mussel free" and we need your help to keep it that way. Please be sure your boat has been cleaned, drained and dried before launching. Also, in recent years curly-leaf pondweed has established itself at Watkins Mill, so please clean your boats and trailers after getting off the lake as well. 

Driving Directions

From Hwy 69 north of Excelsior Springs, turn west on Highway 92 just a few miles to Highway RA. Turn north and follow RA (as it turns into 161st Street) and signs to Watkins Mill State Park.