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The Missouri River is known for its channelized riverbanks and fast currents. It can be a little intimidating for some anglers. If catfish is your species of choice, the Missouri River offers some of the best fishing in Iowa.
Fishing for channel and flathead catfish has historically been best along the main channel and in backwater areas. Look for fish behind wing dams (artificial structures that extend partway across the river), submerged sandbars and near brush piles. People typically use prepared commercial baits, cut bait or live bait (chubs and sunfish) for channel cats. Anglers targeting flathead catfish use live bait like sunfish or bullheads.
In April and May, anglers do well catching shovelnose sturgeon behind wing dams and along sand bars using nightcrawlers fished on the bottom. In fall and winter, anglers can catch sauger and walleye behind wing dams or at the mouths of tributaries using a jig and minnow.
Backwater areas like Middle Decatur (southwest of Onawa in Monona County) and California (west of Modale in Harrison County) at times produce panfish like bluegill and crappie.
Smallmouth bass fishing can be excellent around Sioux City, downstream to Monona County, especially when the river is low. Typically fish are found along the outside bend and around the points of wing dams. Anglers usually fish with soft plastics (jigs) and crankbaits.
Overall, the DNR predicts good spawning and rapid growth for many species for the coming years because of high waters and flooded brushy areas along the river and backwater areas.
Additional Missouri River Information
Several government agencies and regional organizations are working to restore the Missouri River to some of its natural flow and ecosystems.