To choose a favorite lake for fishing, one must first answer the question: “Why do I go fishing?” Is it to catch fish, to get some fresh air or sunshine, to get away from the house or from work, or to prove something to myself or someone else? Maybe it’s the peace and quiet, if there is any; perhaps it’s the camaraderie of a fishing buddy.
I’m fortunate to be able to fish several watershed lakes within 30 minutes of home. A watershed lake is built by the government, on private land, to help reduce flooding; they generally have 3-15 acres of surface water. The dams are designed with several feet of freeboard between the primary and secondary overflows. The purpose of the freeboard is to trap heavy rains behind the dams and let it out slowly, through a small primary overflow pipe; this helps reduce flooding downstream.
The watershed lakes I like to fish were stocked, when they were new, with largemouth bass, bluegill and channel catfish. This is the stocking that the Missouri Department of Conservation has recommended for years. The bluegill are the food fish for the sportfish. Some of the larger lakes also have crappie.
buddy, Dick Leeper, and I generally select the lake to fish and the species to target at the same time. Almost always we’re after largemouth bass, but sometimes its crappie. We launch the boat, make a couple of complete passes near the edge, paying extra attention to any structure in the water. In two or three hours we are out of time and out of the water.
While there is no “perfect” lake and every day is different, my favorite fishing lake is one we call White Oak Lake, because the west side and the tailwaters, are surrounded by white oak timber. There are four reasons this is my favorite lake – 1) we almost always catch a lot of fish there and usually some big enough to warrant a picture and a weight check. 2) The various natural underwater structure elements hold my interest, as we move from one to the next. 3) It is quiet and peaceful. While there is some occasional road noise from a nearby gravel road, the lake is completely out of sight. 4) It’s pleasant to the eyes, you might say beautiful. White Oak Lake has been my favorite, since the first time I fished it.