Fishing opportunities in the middle section of the Missouri River look good again this year, especially for channel and blue catfish. River levels were lower during spring months. Fishing was difficult starting in June 2018 when the river levels rose due to high snowpack and rain upstream. However, there were several reports of anglers catching good stringers of channel catfish during the spring, early summer, and fall months. When fishing was good, a lot of 15-24-inch channel catfish were caught. Try fishing near sandbars, side channels, cut banks, or above and below dikes in slower moving water. The blue catfish population looks good and should provide some great fishing action. Most blue catfish caught in surveys during 2016 and 2017 ranged from 18-29 inches (3-8 lbs). However, there were several anglers that caught blue catfish in the 20-55-pound range. Fewer Flathead catfish occur in this section of river compared to blue catfish. However, during surveys in 2016 and 2017, several 20-27-inch (3-6 lbs.) flatheads were captured. A fair amount of flathead catfish over 40” (25-45) pound fish were captured during surveys as well. The best sites for flatheads are off the tips of wing dikes or along cut or riprapped banks next to fast-moving water. Commercially prepared baits, live sunfish, chicken livers, shrimp, worms, and cut shad are the most popular and successful catfish baits. The best baits for large blue and flathead catfish are live goldfish or sunfish.
White crappie fishing should be fair this year, especially during the spring months. Fish in tributaries, side channels, or scour holes in the flood plain around brush piles with minnows or jigs. Fishing for common carp, buffalo and freshwater drum is always good on the river. Prepared baits and corn are good for catching carp and buffalo. Nightcrawlers are good for all species. Fishing in or near tributaries when the water is slowly rising can be very effective because fish take advantage of the new food supply and habitat.
The federally endangered Pallid Sturgeon and state endangered Lake Sturgeon occur in the Missouri River and are protected by law. As a result, Pallid Sturgeon and Lake Sturgeon must be released unharmed immediately after being caught. Check Missouri's Fishing Regulation summary booklet on how to identify sturgeon. When in doubt about the identity or legal length of any fish, play it safe and return the fish to the water unharmed immediately.