Largemouth bass are plentiful, but most are smaller than the 15-inch length limit in lakes 3, 5, 9, 10, 16, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24, 27, 30, 31, 34, 35, and 37 and Fire Lake on adjacent Weldon Spring CA. Use small spinner baits, crankbaits, and topwater baits along rocky shorelines, brush piles, and in weedy coves for best results. The best lake for big largemouth basswill again be Lake 33 where 25 percent were larger than 18 inches and 5 percent were larger than 20 inches. Lakes 6, 11, 21, 28, 36 and 38 are also big bass lakes, with over 20 percent of bass being larger than 15 inches and have fish larger than 18 inches. In spring and fall, bass will be in shallow water and can be caught on spinnerbaits, jig and pig, and crankbaits. Rock on the lake dams are especially good locations to try in late winter/early spring. In the summer fish go to deeper, cooler water. Bigger bass can be caught along rock dams and drop-offs near log structures. Plastic worms, crankbaits, and jig and pigs are productive in early morning and evening hours.
White crappie will again be plentiful in Lake 33. Please remove all sizes of crappie up to the daily limit of 30. Although you can occasionally catch large crappie in Lake 33, better lakes to catch larger crappie are Lakes 3, 5, 6, 19, 20, 23, 30, 35, 36 and 38, and Fire Lake in Weldon Spring CA. The best crappie fishing is from mid-March through mid-May. There is also some good fall crappie fishing in October. Lakes 33 and 35 feature several large brush and pallet piles (follow the "Crappie brush pile" signs) to enhance crappie fishing. Hundreds of Christmas trees were recycled into Lake 33 brush piles during Winter 2017-18 and will be placed in Lake 34 during Winter 2018-19.
Channel catfish will be best at lake 7 where one-pound catfish are stocked April through September. Lakes where channel catfish greater than 10 pounds are consistently caught include lakes 33 and 35. Lake 38 also provides larger catfish.
Flathead catfish continue to provide high-quality opportunities at Lakes 7 and 33 with fish larger than 20 pounds being present. Live bait fished along the rock dams, under logs, and in root wads will produce the best results.
Blue catfish opportunities are relatively new to the Busch Area, but are developing in Lakes 7 and 33. Live or cut bait may produce best results.
Bluegill larger than 7 inches should be best in lakes 6, 16, and 35, and Fire Lake on Weldon Spring CA. If you want lots of action, try lakes 3, 5, 9, 21, 22, 23, 30, 33, 36, and 38 where there are many 4-6-inch bluegill. Light lines, small jigs tipped with waxworms, worms or crickets have produced results in spring near brush and weed lines. Try fishing for redear sunfish in lakes 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 16, 20, 21, 23, 24, 27, 30, 31, 34, 35, 36, 37, and 38, and Fire Lake on Weldon Spring CA. Redear sunfish will not be as numerous as bluegill, but there are Master Angler sized redear (10 inches or greater) in most of these lakes. Fish with worms or crickets on the bottom near weedbeds.
Rainbow trout will again be available in Lakes 3, 21, 22, 23, and 28 for excellent winter fishing, beginning in November. As in the past, Lakes 21 and 28 host catch-and-release, artificial lures only fishing November through January and then allow harvest under statewide regulations. Though prepared baits continue to provide good action in trout harvest lakes, very light lines/tippets with 1/64-ounce black jigs or flies continue to be very productive.
Muskies will provide good fishing at Lake 35. Spring sampling revealed the highest legal-sized (36") catch rate ever recorded along with muskies up to 46". In addition, anglers reported catching muskies up to 41" during 2018. Plastic swim baits, large crankbaits, and bucktail spinners have been most productive. Several cedar tree and hardwood pallet piles were added in 2018 to help concentrate muskies.