Fishermen in Missouri and Kansas don’t have to travel hundreds of miles north to find walleyes.
Though there aren’t as many of the sharp-toothed gamefish in Mid-America as there are in North Country, good fishing opportunities still exist here. Here’s a look at my best bets for the 2017 season in Missouri and Kansas.
- Bull Shoals Lake: Walleyes have put this reservoir on the national map. In recent years, good numbers of keeper fish have been caught from early spring into summer. This year should be no different. Walleye numbers are good and surveys show there are plenty of 18- to 20-inch fish in the size structure.
- Stockton Lake Stockton’s walleye population has made an impressive comeback, thanks to stocking efforts by the Missouri Department of Conservation. Walleyes have been stocked each of the last five years, and it shows. The population is in excellent shape, with plenty of fish exceeding the 15-inch minimum size limit.
- Smithville Lake: I used to tag along with fisheries biologists when they made their electrofishing surveys at Smithville, and I was amazed at the size of the fish they would catch. Unfortunately, few of those fish would end up on fishermen’s lines. Smithville has a lot of cover, and I suspect the walleyes have adapted well to that environment. Nonetheless, there are still plenty of good-sized walleyes out there. Surveys in 2016 showed that 35 percent of the fish sampled were more than 20 inches long.
- Mozingo Lake: Looking for a sleeper? Head to this reservoir in northwest Missouri. Better known for bass, it also has good numbers of walleyes. Surveys last year turned up the highest catch rates ever recorded at the lake. In fact, 75 percent of the fish sampled measured more than 18 inches.
- Longview Lake: Good news for Kansas City-area fishermen. Walleye numbers at Longview have rebounded to levels similar to the 1990s, thanks to increased stockings by the Department of Conservation.
- Cedar Bluff Reservoir: This western-Kansas reservoir has the highest density of walleyes 15 inches and larger in the state. And it has a few big ones roaming its waters, too. A 7.75-pound walleye was caught and released during surveys last year.
- Kirwin Reservoir: While you’re out west, you should hit Kirwin, too. Though it doesn’t ‘t have the number of walleyes that Cedar Bluff does, it leads the state in lunkers (walleyes 25 inches and bigger) .
- Wilson Reservoir: Wilson is one of the state’s most consistent walleye lakes. It seldom produces trophy fish, but it always has plenty of keepers (15 inches and longer).
- Cheney Reservoir: This Wichita-area reservoir is steadily coming back after several down years of walleye fishing. It still isn’t as good as it was 10 to 12 years ago, but it has one of the highest densities of walleyes in Kansas this year.
- EL DORADO RESERVOIR: If you’re looking for walleyes in the 20-inch range, El Dorado is your place. Fisheries surveys showed that the reservoir has the highest number of fish in that range in the state.
This is the third in a series on fishing prospects in Missouri and Kansas. More species will be highlighted in the next week and one-half.