The lower Missouri River continues to provide good fishing for catfish and other species. While high water levels over the past few years have made fishing difficult at times, these flood waters provide excellent spawning and feeding habitat for many species. Anglers can enjoy the resulting boost to fish growth and numbers. MDC sampling efforts in recent years indicate high numbers of 25-35-inch blue catfish. Several in the 40-50-inch range, weighing up to 80 pounds, were also found. Anglers continue to report good catches, with accounts of lunkers in the 70-90-pound range. Blue catfish are found along current breaks near dike tips and notches, and on revetted shorelines with fairly swift current. Water temperature of 60-65 degrees F in spring is optimum for blue catfishing. Good baits for blue catfish include cut Asian carp, shad, skipjack herring, goldeye and live sunfish or goldfish. Flathead catfish were also found in good numbers during recent surveys. 20-30-inch fish were common with a few up to 45 inches. Flathead catfish are found in moderate current around dikes, along revetted shorelines and on cutbanks, especially if woody cover is present. Flathead catfish prefer live bait, such as sunfish and goldfish. Channel catfish cruise shallow water at night near sandbars. Also try fishing for them in slower moving water in side channels, near cutbanks, or above and below dikes. Channel catfish anglers use a wide variety of natural and prepared baits with success.
Freshwater drum can be caught almost anywhere on nightcrawlers, goldfish, and other baits. For something different, try bowfishing for non-game fish, such as carp and gar, in river sloughs and side channels. Three species of sturgeon: shovelnose, pallid and lake sturgeon can be found in the Missouri River. All can be caught on worms, but the shovelnose sturgeon is the only species of the three that is legal to harvest. Pallid sturgeon and lake sturgeon are both protected species and must be released immediately if caught. Anglers are encouraged to educate themselves on sturgeon identification, as pallid and shovelnose sturgeon are often confused. If you catch a sturgeon, please check it for a tag in order to help provide valuable information to fisheries biologists.
Do not be discouraged from fishing the lower Missouri River if you don't own a boat. Great bank fishing can be found along the river at locations such as Weldon Spring Conservation Area, St. Charles Riverfront, Blanchette Landing Access and Washington City Access.