Fishing Report

MTL Anglers can expect good fishing for 2021

From the 2021 Mark Twain Lake Vacation Guide

Located in Monroe and Ralls counties in Northeast Missouri, Mark Twain Lake has featured excellent fishing in recent years, and biologists say everything points to another good year for anglers in 2021.

Fishing usually starts to pick up when the water surface temperatures reach the upper 40s, normally around the middle of March.

For up-to-the-minute reports on fish activity, contact any of the bait and tackle shops in the area, or watch for fishing reports on the Explore Mark Twain Lake Facebook page.

Here’s the pre-season fishing prospects by the Missouri Department of Conservation for Mark Twain Lake.


Crappie fishing will be fair this year if weather and lake levels cooperate. Based on the fall 2020 surveys, the abundance of crappie over 9 inches long decreased about 30 percent from fall 2019, and was below average.

Abundance of crappie over 9 inches long could increase by late summer if crappie growth is good. Anglers may encounter few hefty 12- and 14-inch crappie during 2021. However, anglers will have to sort through lots of small fish to catch a limit of keeper-size crappie. Due to very high abundance of 6- to 7-inch crappie, only about two of every ten caught will be at least 9 inches long, although this could improve as the summer progresses.

As always, the best fishing will occur during late April and early May when crappie can be caught in shallow water on jigs or minnows.


Catfish anglers can expect good fishing to continue this year. Channel catfish are abundant and many flathead catfish and blue catfish exceeding 25 pounds are caught each year on trotlines, bank lines, and jugs. Anglers have been very successful in recent years capturing blue catfish on trotlines and jugs baited with cut shad or herring.

Catfish anglers do best in the upper portions of North Fork, Middle Fork, South Fork, and Indian Creek arms.


Largemouth bass fishing should be fair to good this year. Electrofishing surveys were not completed during the spring of 2019 or 2020 due to high water and COVID-19 restrictions, but 2018 surveys indicated average abundance of adult bass, and the abundance of bass over 15 inches long was good.

Tournament anglers reported very good weigh-ins during 2020, and similar success should continue during 2021. Bass anglers will find about 25 percent of the bass they catch will be at least 15 inches long.


Walleye abundance remains low, although anglers have reported improved catches the last few years. Anglers should also consider walleye fishing in tributary streams of the lake during early spring where walleye abundance has increased due to recent tributary stream stockings.


White bass abundance is increasing in the lake. Anglers reported good white bass fishing at times last year, and we encountered many during fall crappie surveys.

Anglers do best when these fish are spawning on riffles in tributary streams in early spring, while feeding on schooling shad, or congregating over underwater humps or mud flats during the summer.