The Ted Shanks Conservation Area is managed primarily for waterfowl use, but it also provides some good fishing opportunities. The area lies in the Mississippi River floodplain, 30 minutes south of Hannibal, on Highway 79. The Mississippi River periodically floods the area and did so in both 2013 and 2014. Riverine fish species are common in area lakes and ditches. Anglers will find largemouth bass, crappie, bullheads, channel catfish, common carp, and gar in those waters. Bowfishing is allowed on this area. Shoreline access is limited. A concrete boat ramp exists on Horseshoe Lake, and gravel ramps provide access to Flag Lake and Threemile Ditch. Recent construction projects have broken the southern unit into several smaller units and direct access is no longer available from Threemile Ditch. Check current maps of the area before attempting access. The conservation area is closed to all uses except waterfowl and archery hunting from October 15th to the end of the waterfowl season. Horeshoe Lake serves as a waterfowl refuge and will be closed from October 15th until the end of January.
In 2016, water levels in the southern unit may be lower than normal to facilitate completion of construction projects on the area. Deeper areas like Horseshoe Lake and the Salt Pits should continue to hold water throughout the year, but access may be limited due to construction or low water levels. It is recommended to call the Hannibal MDC office prior to planning a trip to Ted Shanks Conservation Area to get the most current area information.