12 Weeks, 12 Missouri Lakes

Twelve weeks.

That’s about how long summer lasts, starting with Memorial Day weekend and running through mid-August, with the first day of school as summer’s unofficial ending.

While the season’s stay is oh-so brief, you can cram a lot of fun into those 12 weeks, especially if your travels include Missouri’s recreational lakes.

Fun abounds when you’re out on the water, and areas around Show-Me State lakes offer exciting activities on dry land, too.

Here’s a look at 12 of Missouri’s lakes, in no particular order, and a few details about what to expect on your next visit.

Clearwater Lake

In southeast Missouri, near the cities of Piedmont and Ellington, Clearwater covers about 1,600 acres and provides is noted for fishing (crappie and catfish). Nearby attractions include Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Peck Ranch Conservation Area (elk tours) and Sam A. Baker State Park.

Lake of the Ozarks

Located in central Missouri, near Osage Beach, Lake Ozark and Camdenton, it’s one of Missouri’s largest lakes, with more than 1,100 miles of shoreline. Popular for boating and fishing, the surrounding area is a well-known golf destination. Nearby attractions include Ha Ha Tonka State Park and Osage Beach Outlet Marketplace.

Mozingo Lake

An overlooked gem, this 1,000-acre northwest Missouri lake is located near Maryville. The recreational area surrounding the lake offers camping, horseback riding and golf. The lake has good populations of bass and crappie. Area attractions include Conception Abbey and Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration chapel.

Table Rock Lake

With 800 miles of shoreline and spanning 45,000 acres, there’s plenty of room for recreation on Table Rock Lake. Situated near Branson and Kimberling City, it’s a popular spot for bass fishing. Area attractions include Branson’s shows, the Showboat Branson Belle and Titanic Museum Attraction.

Mark Twain Lake

There are ample spots to fish for crappie, boat and swim on this 19,000-acre lake in northeast Missouri. Named for the area’s most-famous resident, the lake is near the cities of Perry, Monroe City and Florida. Nearby attractions include Spalding Beach, Mark Twain Landing and Mark Twain Birthplace State Historic Site.

Lake Pomme de Terre

A peaceful, 7,800-acre lake in central Missouri, Pomme de Terre is well-known among anglers seeking muskie and walleye. Situated near the towns of Pittsburg and Hermitage, there’s a marina on the Pittsburg side of the lake. Nearby attractions include Lead Mine Conservation Area, Lucas Oil Speedway and Shadow Lake Golf Course.

Smithville Lake

Smithville Lake

A popular destination for Kansas City residents (it’s 20 minutes from downtown) this 7,000-plus-acre lake has 175 miles of shoreline near Smithville, Plattsburg and Platte City. The area near the lake has campgrounds, biking trails and golf courses. Regional attractions include the Jesse James Farm and the Shoal Creek Living History Museum.

Harry S Truman Reservoir (Truman Lake)

Named for the only Missourian ever elected president, Truman Lake – the largest in Missouri in terms of acreage – is great for fishing. It has abundant populations of crappie, bass and walleye. The lake is near both Warsaw and Clinton. Regional attractions include the Truman Dam Visitors Center and Lost Valley Fish Hatchery.

Lake Wappapello

Nestled between a section of Mark Twain National Forest and the Mingo National Wildlife Refuge in southeast Missouri, this 8,400-acre lake delights anglers seeking largemouth bass and catfish. Nearby cities include Puxico, Williamsville and Poplar Bluff. Sights to see in the area include Lake Wappapello State Park and the Stars and Stripes Museum and Library.

Lake Taneycomo

A popular destination for trout fishing, Taneycomo has about 40 miles of shoreline. The lake is stocked with about 700,000 rainbow trout and 10,000 brown trout each year. On its meandering path, Lake Taneycomo runs through the heart of downtown Branson. Among the numerous area attractions are Silver Dollar City and Branson Landing.

Photo by Missouri DNR.

Long Branch Lake

Found on Missouri’s Highway 36 near Macon, Long Branch is an excellent spot to fish for striped bass and channel catfish. Covering 2,400 acres, the lake offers abundant recreational options and includes a sandy swimming beach within Long Branch State Park. The park also offers a campground and areas for hiking. Nearby attractions include the Maples Repertory Theatre and the Exhibition of Amtrak History in La Plata.

Stockton State Park Marina

Stockton Lake

This nearly 25,000-acre lake near Stockton and Bolivar is noted as an excellent sail-boating destination. A generous and nearly perpetual breeze from the southwest makes it possible to sail away on Stockton Lake. Within Stockton State Park, there’s a marina (with a sailing school!) and a campground, along with camper cabins and duplexes.

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