For more than 15 years, Tom Smith and Fred Stark, Des Moines, Iowa, have made trips to fish the tri-lakes of Truman, Stockton and Pomme de Terre just prior to or after the Kansas City Sport show.
They have always caught bass and usually the fish were larger than any they caught all year long. This year they couldn’t wait to hit the lakes again, so they made a trip this month and were glad they did.
“For the past several years, we have fished Missouri in January and have caught some big bass, but this year we were committed on the dates of the KC show, so we decided to make an early trip,” Smith said. “We knew Stockton has some healthy populations of bass and in January temperatures can change faster than December and the fish react to the weather. It is an excellent time to fish the lake for several reasons. There aren’t as many anglers and, as we found out, this area is really beautiful.”
The pair of Iowa anglers fished from Mutton Creek to the dam and caught fish in nearly every area. “We caught five fish over three pounds and had some smaller ones as well. We saw some fish feeding on shad and thought they were white bass, but when I cast a Zara spook into the school, a three-pound largemouth hit and the action started,” Smith said. “We hooked several more bass before they quit hitting.”
Moving on to Truman, the anglers have learned what to use and where to fish the winter water.
“We were surprised to find fish in shallow water, usually, in January, you have to go deep for them,” Stark said. “That is when we use pig and jig a lot as well as silver jigging spoons a lot. However, this January we caught bass on spinners. We used eight-pound test line and medium action rods. Since we found out about winter bass fishing on Truman back in 2012, our best fish of the year have been caught here.”
The anglers also took some time to look for crappie and were rewarded with a nice string of those excellent eating fish.
“My wife asked me to bring home some good eating fish, so we went looking for crappie one afternoon on Lake Pomme de Terre,” Stark said. “It took a while, but we managed to land 11 keepers that should help me score some points when we get home.”
Missouri weather is something the anglers have gotten used to. “One day we didn't need jackets,” Smith said, “but the next day we wore our ‘brr’ suits. It was still a lot warmer than had we been in Iowa."
“I was surprised there weren't more anglers out, but I guess with some hunting going on they were waiting until later,” Stark noted. “We did run into a Springfield angler, Kent Oliver, who had a six-pound bass plus several others over 15 inches. He said he had fished Stockton from October until today and had caught larger bass than he did in the summer.”
The anglers from Iowa have learned how good the fishing can be in the Missouri winter and have learned the proper techniques and equipment for success. Both anglers agree when they retire, they will be looking around the area lakes for a place to call home.
“I feel like this is my second home already,” Smith said. “I'm getting tired of those cold winters and am ready to move to a somewhat warmer climate and a good fishing area like Truman, Stockton and Pomme de Terre offers."
White, a Stockton resident, has a versatile background in the outdoors as a participant and journalist. His column appears weekly.