Thomas Hill Reservoir (4,950 acres) is located in Macon and Randolph counties and provides water for cooling Associated Electric Cooperative, Incorporated’s coal-fired generators. The warm water discharge results in a unique, year-round fishery. White crappie are one of the most sought-after species at Thomas Hill Reservoir, but unfortunately, anglers will catch fewer desirable sized crappie in 2021 than they did in 2020. The results of the fall 2020 survey indicated the abundance of adult white crappie increased tremendously when compared to the 2019 survey, but only 17 percent of those captured measured 9 inches in length or longer. Hybrid striped bass are popular with wintertime anglers due to the hybrids' attraction to the warm water discharge and their fierce fight. Fish exceeding the minimum length limit of 20 inches can be caught on rattling lures, soft plastics and jigs, as well as chicken livers and minnows. Both crappie and hybrid striped bass are vulnerable through the winter months in and below the warm-water discharge channel on the southeast side of the lake. The largemouth bass population continues to recover after numerous years of poor spawning success. Although bass numbers have improved compared to the previous year, a high proportion of those caught by anglers in 2021 will be 12 to 15 inches long, and one in four could be 15 inches or longer.
Flathead catfish and channel catfish round out the angling choices at this reservoir. Most channel catfish caught are small due to overpopulation, so anglers are encouraged to take home their daily limit of 10. There is the potential to catch a large flathead catfish (greater than 36 inches) using trotlines, bank lines, and jugs using live bait near old river channels. In early 2009, a barrier-free fishing dock was placed in the warm-water arm (Brush Creek), just northeast of the boat ramp. This dock is especially attractive to anglers who enjoy fishing for crappie and hybrid striped bass during the winter months because it is located just southeast of the warm-water discharge plume. To enhance shoreline angling, an ADA accessible paved fishing jetty and fish cleaning station was completed in 2012 at the north end of the lake near the Highway T boat ramp. Brush piles were placed in the lake as fish-attracting cover from 1991 through 1994. In spring 2009, fifteen of these brush piles had cedar and hardwood trees added to them, and plans are in place to place additional trees to these fish attractor locations in spring 2021. Contact the Northeast Regional Office to request a location map or visit the MDC website at https://short.mdc.mo.gov/Zpx. While fishing at Thomas Hill Reservoir, look for the bright yellow "Fish Attractor" signs on the shore; the brush pile is nearby.