Anglers fishing for smallmouth bass in the Gasconade River's special management area, in Phelps and Pulaski counties, continue to report good fishing year-round, but especially in the winter months. Smallmouth bass from 12-18 inches are more abundant in this section than upstream or downstream areas. Historically, this section of river has had a strong smallmouth population, but the effects of continued flooding since 2011 is being noticed. Fall 2017 samples indicate a decrease in the adult population of smallmouth bass, and anglers reports of 2018 corroborate this . A variety of baits can be effective, but anglers using larger crayfish imitations or shallow running crankbaits. Large smallmouth bass can be found in deep areas of the river, below riffles. During 2019 most smallmouth bass will be in the 12 inch range, but fish over 18 inches can be found in the large pools in this section of river.
The largemouth bass population within this section remains consistent for the past two decades. Largemouth bass prefer the slow waters of large pools and fish over 18 inches and 3 pounds are common throughout the reach. Fish the side channels and slow water to find them consistently. Recent surveys and angler reports, indicate an increase in spotted or Kentucky bass in this portion of the river, this trend will hopefully reverse should we experience more typical flooding frequencies. Anglers are encouraged to harvest any legal-sized spotted bass they catch. Spotted bass are consistently growing to 12 inches and spotted bass up to 15 inches can be caught.
Fishing pressure for rock bass/goggle-eye is consistent throughout the area for most of the year. The recent frequent flooding has negatively impacted spawning success of the rock bass population which is not dominated by only larger adults. This continues to be concerning for fishing over the next few years. However, the 2018 fish surveys sampled a quality rock bass spawn for 2018, hopefully this will continue into the next few years.
Anglers fishing for channel catfish can expect to catch high numbers of fish with specimens larger than 20 inches occurring on a regular basis, as well as the opportunity for fish even larger. Channel catfish are continually found in rootwads associated with good flow during the day and in pools downstream of these areas at night, searching for food. Bluegill, redear sunfish, green sunfish, walleye and flathead catfish can all be found in good numbers in this area as well. Try for crappie in deep, slow areas and you could be surprised. The Gasconade River throughout its middle portion can produce wonderful days on the water, and you never know what fish you may pull into the boat.