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Missouri Fishing Lakes: Bull Shoals Lake


Bull Shoals Lake is a beautiful waterway known for its clear water and excellent fishing.   Located in southern Missouri, this artificially created lake or reservoir straddles the border between Missouri and Arkansas.  The lake covers over 45,000 acres of which about 16,000 are located on the Missouri side.  Nineteen parks are located along the many miles of shoreline and these include campgrounds, swimming areas, marinas and boat launches.  The Missouri side of the lake boasts various lake bottoms and shorelines made up of bluffs, rock or gravel.

Enjoying the LakeBull Shoals Lake is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project that was begun in 1947, completed in 1951 and dedicated by President Harry S. Truman in 1952.  The Bull Shoals Dam was built to impound the White River and is one of the largest concrete dams in the United States.  The lake is the farthest downstream before the White River opens into the Mississippi River.  Three other artificial lakes also created by the White River are (from farthest upstream) Beaver Lake, Table Rock Lake and Lake Taneycomo.  The upper part of the lake below the dam is known as the “Pothole.”

The heavily forested shoreline of Bull Shoals Lake is completely undeveloped and is managed by the Army Corps of Engineers as a buffer zone.  The lake elevation fluctuates normally from 630 to 680 feet with the average of 654 feet.  The average depth of the lake is 60 feet.  The lake bottom is mainly made up of bedrock.   Recreational activities in the area include fishing, boating, water sports, camping, hunting, horseback riding and hiking.  There are three full service marinas in Missouri – at Pontiac, Theodosia and Kissee Mills.  Lodging is available from primitive campgrounds to lakeside resorts.  The nearest state park is Bull Shoals- White River State Park in Arkansas, near the dam.

Fishing is excellent at Bull Shoals Lake and a number of state record catches have been made there, including the current record for Largemouth Bass at 13 lb. 14 oz.  The average water temperature ranges from 40 to 85.  The lake does not freeze over.

fishFish Available in Bull Shoals Lake & Best Baits

Black Bass – Spawning in April-May

Spring:                  Jerkbaits, Jig-Pig, Spinnerbaits

Summer:             Top Water, Plastic Worms and Craws

Fall:                        Top Water, Crankbaits, Spinnerbaits

Winter:                Jig-Pig, Spoons

Crappie – Spawning in April-May

Spring:                  Jigs

Summer:             Minnows

Fall:                        Minnows

Winter:                 Jigs, Minnows

Bluegill – Spawning in June

All Seasons:        Crickets, Worms

White Bass – Spawning in March-April

All Seasons:        Jigs, Spoons

Catfish – Spawning in May

Spring:                  Cut Shad

Summer:             Cut Shad, Stinkbait

Fall:                        Cut Shad

Winter:                 N/A

For further information:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Bull Shoals Lake

Missouri Fishing Guide – Bull Shoals Lake

Bull Shoals Lake / White River Chamber of Commerce


Will Hanke is a float trip fanatic and an Amazon bestselling author. He owns Red Canoe Media, an Internet marketing agency south of St. Louis. When he's not geeking out, he's probably on the river in, yes, a red canoe.

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