Watkins Mill is a 100 acre lake near Excelsior Springs. The lake is owned by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and fishing is managed by MDC. The lake has excellent largemouth bass fishing, good channel catfish, the chance to catch a Master Angler-sized redear sunfish and improving crappie . Largemouth bass are in excellent condition and provide some of the best bass fishing in the region. Fish over 18 inches are common. Spinner baits work well in the spring when water temperatures are around 70 degrees. Crankbaits and plastics work better as the water warms. Channel catfish have benefited from fewer fish being stocked. This has allowed the catfish to grow faster while still providing plenty of fish for anglers. 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. Redear sunfish provide a chance to catch a trophy-sized fish, even if that is just 10 inches long. Redear are a relative of the bluegill and have done well in this lake. Each year fish over 10 inches are caught using very small baits. These sunfish have small mouths and using a small hook with 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 circular part of the lake with water that is muddier than the water around it. The crappie population is stunted with crappie averaging about 8 inches, but fish up to 13 inches are being caught much more frequently. Continued harvest of crappie is needed to continue improving the population. The population continues to slowly improve. In 2013, it was possible to catch a limit of quality crappie during the spawn and higher numbers of quality fish were collected in recent surveys. The best fishing is during the spawn off points, around shallow woody cover and rocky banks. Jigs or minnows work equally well. There is no length limit on crappie at this lake and anglers are encouraged to take their limit of 30 fish per day. To help anglers target crappie year-round, 9 brush piles were added to the lake in 2007. Call the contact number to get a map with GPS coordinates for these brush piles. Bluegill do not get as large in the lake as redear, but can provide some good fishing. Concentrate around stumps and in the back of coves during May using the same methods as you would for redear.
Annual Prospects Report
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.