Places to Go: Cooley Lake Conservation Area

By Larry Archer | August 1, 2021
From Missouri Conservationist: August 2021
Body

Oxbow lake offers birding, gigging, and bowfishing

Once part of the Missouri River’s main channel, Cooley Lake is now a remnant oxbow lake that offers little in the way of traditional fishing, but plenty of action for birders, giggers, and bow-fishers.

Years of accumulated silt have left the once-deep main channel a shallow wetlands lake, making it a draw for migrating waterfowl, said Cooley Lake Conservation Area (CA) Manager Chris Blunk.

“Cooley’s big thing is migratory birds in the fall and spring,” Blunk said. “But there’s still a lot of upland birds in August.”

Located on the nearly 1,350 acres in Clay County, Cooley Lake’s shallow August waters also draw frog giggers and bow-fishers, he said.

“Frogging is a big thing at Cooley, too,” he said. “It’s kind of late in the frogging season, but it’s still going on.”

As opportunistic wetlands, Cooley Lake CA relies on runoff and flooding from the nearby Missouri River to replenish its water and occasionally provide prey for bowfishers.

“If there’s water that’s running through the structures, if we do have rainfalls, there’s quite a few bow-fishermen that utilize the area as well because the gar and the carp get in there from the river,” Blunk said.

This Issue's Staff

MAGAZINE MANAGER
Stephanie Thurber

EDITOR
Angie Daly Morfeld

ASSOCIATE EDITOR
Larry Archer

PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR
Cliff White

STAFF WRITERS
Bonnie Chasteen
Kristie Hilgedick
Joe Jerek

DESIGNERS
Shawn Carey
Marci Porter

PHOTOGRAPHERS
Noppadol Paothong
David Stonner

CIRCULATION MANAGER
Laura Scheuler