Fishing Information for Valley Water Mill Lake

Information provided by: Missouri Department of Conservation

UPDATE/CURRENT STATUS–  CLOSEDMDC staff anticipates opening the lake to fishing sometime in 2012.   

Valley Water Mill Lake Fishery – 2011 update 

The fish at Valley Water Mill Lake were stocked in December 2008.     Typically, it takes at least three to four years for newly stocked fish to establish self-sustaining populations. 

So how are the fish populations coming along?

The bluegill population is showing considerable progress.  When the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) conducted its fall 2010 electrofishing survey, they captured bluegill in all size ranges (including the smaller sizes) and had catch rates within their target range.   This was a major improvement over past surveys.   Changes in size structure parameters and growth/condition indices also support this observation.

As for the largemouth bass, the latest survey and related data indicate that the numbers are still low and there are definite gaps in the smaller size ranges.   On a positive note several young-of-year largemouth bass were captured in MDC’s last survey.   This is evidence of successful reproduction.   With the success of the bluegill in 2010, MDC staff anticipates the largemouth bass population will show a similar improvement in 2011.  Right now, additional pressure on bass from harvest or even stress due to catch-and release fishing would be detrimental to both populations. The bluegill population can easily explode and stunt if there are not enough bass to keep them in check.  Recovering from this scenario is difficult.   

Why have the bluegill expanded more quickly than the largemouth bass?

Bluegill produce more young and can spawn multiple times throughout the summer months.  This allows their populations to establish quickly.  Predator fish, such as largemouth bass, have a smaller spawning window and do not produce as many fry when compared to a prey species such as bluegill.   

How many fish are in the lake?

That is a difficult question to answer.  Electrofishing does not provide an actual count of the fish in the lake.  It is designed to allow managers to collect sufficient numbers of fish to determine size structure of the individual populations and collect growth and condition information from individual fish within the populations.  By looking at all three factors, managers can determine the status of the populations.    Ideally, populations should have fish in all size ranges with desirable growth rates.   Using electrofishing catch rates alone can be misleading.  Extremely high catch rates could actually be the result of an over-abundance of small fish.  The distribution of fish throughout size ranges along with growth information provides managers with a clearer picture as to what is going on below the surface.  Other factors such as vegetation, water clarity, and weather can also impact the amount of fish captured from survey to survey.   The next planned electrofishing survey, along with age/growth collection, will occur early this spring.   

When will the lake be open to fishing?

Given that the bass population still needs time to expand, the lake will remained closed to fishing in 2011.    As mentioned above, additional fish population surveys will be conducted in 2011 to monitor their progress.   MDC staff anticipates opening the lake to fishing sometime in 2012.     

If you have any additional questions in regards to the fish populations at Valley Water Mill Lake, please contact the Missouri Department of Conservation, at (417) 895-6881 

What can anglers do?  Please be patient as we let the new populations develop!! The lake renovation process has taken time, but we are almost to the finish line. Illegal harvest will reduce the overall quality of the new fishery, and if excessive, can derail the entire process.   


The following provides some additional life history information about the three actively managed fish species in Valley Water Mill Lake.   (Text is provided by  and the pictures are provided by Duane Raver/USFWS.)

Management Plan & Philosophy