Large lakes, big rivers, and huge impoundments require a degree of persistence, special skills, a measure of luck and lots of information to be consistently successful in the quest to catch. If you are a serious, hardcore angler who accepts the challenge of big water fishing, I’ll bet you own maps of those waters marked with X’s, O’s, lines, and notes that indicate “spots” that have proven productive over the years.
Case in point is my map of Mark Twain Lake in northeast Missouri; the 18,600 acres of water I’ve crappie fished since the Salt River was impounded by the Cannon Dam in 1985. Over the years, my wife Jan, fishing pal Frank Wagner, pro guide Ken Erb, and the legion of guests at Timber Ridge Resort have not only marked and discussed hundreds of lake maps but we’ve gone so far as to name our “honey holes.” This literally pinpoints where anglers regularly have the best catches in size and quantity. Also, this labeling allows us to share info with other friends as well as Dennis and Jodi Gill, proprietors of Timber Ridge, so that they can give their fishing guests a guide to hopeful success.
The names for our best spots come from a variety of sources; some we’ve named after people, others are descriptive of certain unique physical features and some we’ve simply made up. They’re not household words by any means but every serious group of anglers on big waters have a list that is similar to our Mark Twain list.
You may fish the same holes and refer to them differently or this may inspire you to give names to your favorites. Either way, the conversation concerning, “Where’s the bite?,” will flow much more freely and be easier to understand.
To give you an idea, I’ve selected ten of the Mark Twain locations we frequent on a regular basis. See if you recognize any of them. (My wife forbids me to disclose the names of her secret spots.)
1. “Gobbler Point”
On Big Indian Creek, so named for the noisy wild turkey that sound off with regularity each spring to tease the crappie fisherman who has unfilled turkey tags.
2. “The Three-Pound Hole”
A center creek wash-up where I caught the only three-pound crappie of my Mark Twain career. (Yes, Jan reminds me often it was her idea to fish said wash-up that fateful day.)
3. “Castle Rock”
Where two limestone columns tower over a pine-covered point in Middle Fork, having the appearance of an ancient castle.
4. “The Waterfall”
Where water constantly trickles down the face of a limestone bluff some fifty feet above the mouth of Dry Fork.
5. “Andy’s Point”
Where a senior angler during record lake levels tied an orange jug to the top of a standing tree to mark a hot spot in Lick Creek. Until the rope broke some years later, the jug could still be seen swinging in the breeze some 25 feet above normal pool.
6. “Jim Bob Willy’s Cove”
A stump laded three-finger cove where on weekends during the crappie spawn you could fall out of one boat only to find yourself in someone else’s. The cove bears the name of a long ago resort owner.
7. “Car Body Bay”
The rusted remains of a decaying Hudson sedan sits on high ground as a reminder of the past even before the idea of a Corps of Engineers lake was ever conceived. We often wonder about the folks who drove the car and why they parked it in that spot.
8. “Cable Cove”
A long, narrow deep cove where the banks and shallow waters are lined with dead trees and brush cabled together to from fish habitat.
9. “Eagle Nest”
Obviously, where a mated pair of America’s white-headed birds chose to build a huge nest high atop a giant oak to raise their young and entertain anglers with their aerobatics and feeding habits.
10. “Harold and Leroy’s Hangout”
A stretch of chunky rock shoreline near Buck Creek, shaded from afternoon sun by a high bluff where our friends along with their wives anchored in a 18 ft. john boat and skillfully cast their baits, taking limits of nice crappie.
Bonus Spot: “Red Barn Cove”
It seems that every big lake has an ageing red barn located within sight of a cove, creek, flat, or shoreline that names the area as productive fishing waters.
Do any of these fishin’ holes sound familiar?
Larry Reid is host of “Outdoors with Larry Reid” which airs Sundays at noon on WBGZ Radio, 1570 AM.