By Marc Rogers
Fishing Pomme De Terre Lake
Pomme De Terre Lake is located in South Central Missouri approximately 50 miles north of Springfield Missouri. The impoundment is approximately 7,800 acres at normal pool with over 100 miles of shoreline. Pomme De Terre Lake was created in 1961 when the Army Corp of Engineers completed the dam on the Pomme De Terre River. A major tributary of the lake is Lindley Creek. The normal lake lever is 841 feet above mean sea level but water levels change as needed to control water flow below the dam. It is common to see lake levels from 838 to 852 feet with maximum flood levels of 874 feet above mean sea level. At the full flood control level the lakes expands to over 16,000 acres.
There are many homes and cabins built above the elevation of 879 feet because the Army Corp of Engineers owns the land below this level. However, there is little shoreline development due to fluctuating water levels. Several marinas operate on the lake offering fuel, boat rentals and food service. Floating private docks are allowed with permits required from the Army Corp of Engineers.
The shoreline consists of mostly forested land with irregular features. Shoreline is a mixture of gravel and clay with limestone cliffs and outcroppings in numerous areas. Large boulders and rocks are plentiful close to cliffs and sharp shoreline areas. Along the shoreline, there is still standing timber present while the main lake was cleared during lake construction. In addition, smaller creek arm coves have numerous areas of standing timber still left in the water. Limited areas of vegetation are present in some areas.
The water is generally clear in the main lake with murky conditions occurring in the upper ends of the river and creek arms during times of rainy conditions. It is not uncommon to see visibility in the main lake of 6 – 8 feet.
When fishing Pomme De Terre Lake, anglers discover it is home to numerous species of fish. The most popular game fish are the bass, crappie and muskie. Muskie stocking began in the lake in 1966 and has continued ever since. Many consider the lake the best muskie fishery in the Midwest. There are several muskie tournaments held each year on Pomme De Terre and a local Chapter of Muskies Inc. (Pomme De Terre Chapter) host most of these events.
Muskies do not reproduce naturally in the lake and require regular stocking for the fishery to produce trophy fish. Most of the muskie stocking in Missouri is done in Pomme De Terre but several other waters do receive limited stocking of muskie. In fact, the state record came from Lake of the Ozarks in 1981. Up until 1981 the records all came from Pomme De Terre. However, in 1967, 225 muskie were stocked in Lake of the Ozarks and few were ever caught. The state record came from this stocking and was 49 ½ inches long. It tipped the scales at 41 pounds 2 ounces.
Walleye have also been stocked in Pomme De Terre and they have developed a loyal following of anglers. Bass anglers catch most of the walleye accidentally. Walleye are the most active during night in the spring but many anglers drift jigs and live bait in an attempt to catching the walleye that lurk in the lake.
Bass fishing at Pomme De Terre is very popular among anglers. The lake is home to an abundant population of Large Mouth Bass, Spotted Bass and Smallmouth Bass. There are many bass tournaments held on the lake each year. From spring through fall an angler can find a tournament to compete in on most weekends. Several tournament circuits have monthly events on Pomme De Terre including Joe Bass Team Trail and Anglers in Action. It is not uncommon for the winning weights of these one-day events to push the scales to 20 pounds or more with a five bass limit.
Bass fishing is good year round for anglers on Pomme De Terre. The largest bass are generally taken in the spring when the females are in the pre-spawn to spawning stage. The largest bass I have taken from Pomme De Terre was just over 6 ½ pounds but there are many bigger ones swimming in the lake. There have been numerous tournaments when the big bass award was won with a fish over eight pounds.
Midwest Fishing Tackle Pro-Staff members Aaron and Alton Hunter are regulars on the lake. They compete in about 20 tournaments each year on Pomme De Terre. They report that spring is the best time to catch a trophy bass but the lake is a productive bass fishery year round. The father/son team have caught numerous trophy bass in Pomme De Terre and report “the best lure for the big bass is the Football Jig”. Aaron says, “Jig fishing is a slower presentation but produces the bigger bite.”
When the bass are aggressive both prefer to fish soft plastic jerk baits like the Zoom Super Fluke. Their color of choice is watermelon and they dye the tail chartreuse. Aaron says, “An off-set, round bend worm hook is the best hook for this lure. I have tried all the styles of hooks available and this hook gives me better hook-set percentages. The most popular hooks are the wide gap style but these cause me to miss more bass because the lure fills the gap of the hook.” This duo once caught over 100 bass per day for two days straight presenting the Zoom Super Fluke in shallow water to aggressive male bass preparing for the spawn.
On an April weekend in 2008, Aaron and Alton won back-to-back tournament on a Saturday and Sunday. During the two days, they caught three bass over seven pounds from the same submerged bush. During the two days, their combined weights of five bass limits were pushing the 40-pound mark. All of these bass were taken on a football head jig. Aaron said “we fish our jigs a little different than most anglers” but he would not elaborate with any further details.
When water temperatures break the 50-degree mark, the two best choices for bass are a jig and jerk-bait. Anglers should present the jig slowly to entice bass to bite. As in most bodies of water, the jig and trailer will generally produce larger fish. The second choice is a jerk-bait worked slowly beneath the surface. My favorite jerk-baits are the Lucky Craft Staysee 90 in shad colors and the Rapala X-Rap in shad colors. The Staysee 90 will reach greater depths than the X-Rap and will suspend better in colder water. However, the X-Rap with two Storm Suspend Dots placed just behind the bill makes this lure very comparable to the Lucky Craft lure. Main lake and secondary points are always the first place I look for bass during these conditions.
When the water surface temperatures approach the 60-degree mark, the smaller male bass will become very active near the shoreline cover. Again, jerk-baits and jigs will catch these fish. However, the larger females will likely be found in 6 – 10 feet depths and crankbaits are the most productive. Crawdad colored crankbaits should be the first choice of anglers trying to catch a trophy bass under these conditions.
At approximately 65-degree surface temperatures, the bass will start to migrate to the post-spawn areas of the lake. The larger females will be harder to catch during this time while the smaller males may still be abundant in the shallow waters guarding the nests and young fry. Shallow running crankbaits, plastic worms or lizards and top-water lures are productive on the male bass. The larger females are taken on Carolina rigs and crankbaits running in the 6 – 12 feet deep range.
As summer approaches the bass will move to deeper water near the Thermocline (usually about 20 feet deep) and hold there until the lakes starts its fall turn-over. The larger bass are generally not taken in water less than 10 feet deep during the summer months on Pomme De Terre. There are times when top-water lures will bring them up from the depths during the summer. A slower moving top-water, like the Zara Spook or Pop-R, is my choice for top-water during the summer. The most productive summer time bass lure at Pomme De Terre is a large plastic worm. My choice for big plastic worms is the Gambler 13-inch Ribbon Tail worm.
Once the water temperatures begin to cool in late summer bass can be caught at almost any depth. Anglers are wise to watch for schools of shad on the surface and target the bass following them. Numerous bass can be taken on top-water baits while the bass are feeding on shad but the larger ones are generally located several feet below the shad while feeding. A deep running shad imitator is my lure of choice for the bigger bass during this time. A lipless crankbait is also a good choice for anglers.
As in most lakes in the Midwest, the winter season is the least productive for bass fishing. The bass’ metabolism slows with the colder water and they require little food for survival. Winter lure choices should include slow moving baits like the jig and trailer. The presentation should be slow and at depths of 10 feet or greater. Also, a suspending jerk-bait presented very slowly can be productive for Pomme De Terre winter bass.
Pomme De Terre Lake is a great choice for bass anglers because it is located between two very popular lakes that receive most of the tourism and recreational boating traffic. Lake of the Ozarks to the Northeast and Table Rock to the South attract most of the recreational boating traffic. Pomme De Terre Lake is seldom crowded with boat traffic and this makes angling much easier.