This area was expanded in 2017 to include all of the Big Piney River downstream of Slabtown Access in Texas County to the confluence with the Gasconade River in Pulaski County. The spring 2017 flood has changed portions of the river and added a significant amount of woody habitat. Anglers in 2017 reported that riffle and run areas had changed greatly. The Big Piney River is a clear stream, especially when low, and is best to fish slowly out of a canoe or small river johnboat. If you are not catching fish from a boat, get out and wade fish the swifter habitats; it will produce a tug on the end of the line.
Smallmouth bass fishing is expected to be good throughout the special management area year round due to great habitat. Anglers report catching good numbers of fish from 12-15 inches, with the vast number of fish around 8 inches and a few upwards of 20 inches! Expect most smallmouth bass to be in the 8-10 inch range in 2018. Fishing near rootwads and boulders associated with the current will produce more smallmouth bass than other habitats. Do not be afraid to fish the pools in the springtime with traditional largemouth lures. Fishing towards the lower end of a floatable reach of river as opposed to the upper stretch can produce more fish as well. Focusing on the right habitats will be the key. Finally, smallmouth bass had a great spawn in 2017 post-flood which should help maintain this popular fishery.
Goggle-eye fishing can also be good year round, but the 2018 population continues to decline. This is most likely due to the numerous floods during the past few years reducing spawning success. The majority of the population is currently over 6 inches in length and fish upwards of 10 inches are common in some areas of the river. Goggle-eye can be caught in the pools around structure and on the channel edge of weed beds. Although soft plastic crayfish imitations are always the best for google-eye, they can also be caught on crankbaits in the rocky sections of the creek.
Largemouth bass can generally be found in backwater areas and grow to over 20 inches. These fish are more readily caught in winter and early spring when these habitats are clear of vegetation. Try crankbaits, spinnerbaits or big soft plastic swim baits in these areas.