Big River in Missouri

Just curious if anyone out there has ever floated the Big River south of St. Louis. I’m looking for a quick day trip and some clear water. Also like to do some smallmouth fishing. Any info would be greatly appreciated, Thanks.

my home river…
You won’t find really clear water on Big River. The farther upstream you go, the clearer it gets, but never truly clear like many Ozark streams.

Basically…in the spring, with normal weather, you can float it from up around the MDC access at Leadwood. By midsummer you’ll be doing some dragging just about anywhere above Washington State Park.

The smallmouths in Big River are really suffering from the spotted bass invasion. Below Washington State Park, smallies are greatly outnumbered by spotted bass. Between Washington Park and St. Francois Park the spots have increased in the last 3-4 years to where now they are probably as numerous as smallies, and show no signs of leveling off. Above St. Francois Park, spots are also increasing but are still outnumbered by smallies. The spots haven’t made it much above Leadwood as of last summer, but they probably will.

I’ve floated and fished this river for well over 40 years. I love it like no other. And I mourn for the passing of smallmouth fishing in it.

I was thinking about putting in at the Hwy 21 bridge and floating down to Washington State Park. I want to fish alot so I figured I’d be going pretty slow. I hear it is only 3 miles by river.

Do you think this is a good idea for fishing or should I go farther upstream. I’ll have one other guy with me and we will be in a canoe, so I don’t want to have to drag to much.

Also do you know the limits on spots. If there is a limit I’ll do my part and keep as many as I can.

Good short float…
That’s a good short float. Good fishing water, but gets quite a bit of fishing pressure. Problem with going farther upstream is that your accesses are limited. There’s no good place to park anymore at the Blackwell bridge. Coles Landing, above Blackwell, is a nice private access if you can get permission to use it. Above there, your next good access, again private, is at the old 67 Hwy. bridge (Cherokee Landing), or at St. Francois Park. It’s 10 miles upstream to the next access, at the old south Hwy. 67 bridge at Desloge.

I’d say give the 21 to Washington Park float a try.

The Big River
I didn’t realize that there were so many Missouri floaters, much less paddlers familar with the Big. I live in St. Charles and grew up in House Springs. I floated the big numerous times when I was much younger, not lately though. I love the Ozark streams and float them as often as I can. I would love to here about your experience on the Big if you float it, conditions and fishing etc… How many Missouri paddlers are on this, does anyone know???

MO Paddlers
Several of us. We also have a Spring and Fall Ozark Rendevous that we started a few years back. Check out the Ozark Rendevous threads on the “Getting Together and Going Paddling” section. WW

Mo Paddlers
There are a few.