Largemouth bass are abundant; most bass caught by angers will be 10 to 14 inches long, but some larger bass (over 3 pounds) are present. A daily limit of two bass is allowed with a length limit of 15 inches. Anglers should experience good angling for Bluegill. Most bluegill are smaller than 8 inches, but are abundant and large numbers can be caught fishing from the bank near the dam, and SW 200 Rd to Schell-Osage headquarters, during May and June. Small spinners and small crankbaits, such as artificial crayfish, is a productive method to catch both bass and bluegill. During the hot summer months, worms and crickets with bobbers will be the most effective means to catch these fish.
Angling for Crappie is good using minnows and jigs. Crappie fishing has been reportedly slow, but anglers can experience good crappie fishing in April and May. Daily limit for crappie is 15. Channel catfish angling is good. Channel catfish were stocked in both 2014 and 2017 and should be reaching good sizes. Atkinson Lake is scheduled to be stocked again in 2020. Catfish anglers should try using stink baits or chicken livers from shore and along the dam in the early morning and evening. Daily limit for catfish is 4. Common carp are abundant and can provide good action on pole and line and bowfishing. The shallower south and west sections of the lake will be the best areas to search for carp. The daily limit of non-game species, including carp and bluegill, is 20 in the aggregate.
Outboard motors larger than 10 horsepower may be used, but are required to be operated at no wake speed. Atkinson Lake is located on Schell-Osage Conservation Area and is a waterfowl refuge. The lake is closed to all activities from October 15-January 31.