Missouri Fishing on the White River Chain of Lakes

Most state borders are just lines. Missouri’s are mostly straight, except the famous bootheel in the southeast and where it follows the Missouri River in the northwest. Most of our southern border is straight, but you might notice that about a third of it is underwater.

It’s called the White River chain of lakes: a series of man-made reservoirs created by the US Army Corps of Engineers in 1938. The chain begins with Beaver Lake, which runs into Table Rock, which runs into Taneycomo, and finally into Bull Shoals Lake – the last in the chain, and perhaps the most versatile of the group.

Bull Shoals Lake.

Bull Shoals Dam is one of the largest concrete dams in the United States, and when it was begun in 1947, it was the fifth-largest in the world. When completed in 1951, the resulting lake was 80 miles long with 700 miles of shoreline and 45,150 acres of water surface area.

An outstanding fishery, Bull Shoals Lake is deep and clear which makes it a favorite for scuba divers. Divers rave about the 40’ to 50’ visibility and the abundance of big smallmouth bass. For us fishermen, the clear water can make things a little more difficult as the fish can be quite wary and skittish; nothing a little lighter line, smaller lures and natural colors can’t fix.

The upper end of the lake is easily accessed from Branson. In early spring, big crappie and walleye migrate upstream to spawn and congregate below Powersite Dam at Forsythe. By late spring the bass fishing – largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass – really get going in the Theodosia Arm, where the Little North Fork River flows south into the White River.

Theodosia Recreation Area and Pontiac Recreation Area have camping with hookups and the town of Theodosia has restaurants and lodging.  There are numerous privately-owned lodges, cabins and cottages scattered around the lake. Although hotel chains and more extensive shopping isn’t available in town, the get-away-from-it-all nature of the places is what gives the area its charm and makes the last of the chain the beginning of a great vacation.

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