We, that is Mid-America Hunting Association, are far more definitive at how we classify these privately held small impoundments. Just as in our recommendations of where to hunt, where we recommend to fish is based on our first hand knowledge with that water body. The reason we are more definitive in our classification is that unlike the magazine article writer we at MAHA must live with our recommendations to our membership and as such are held accountable for that water’s performance.
Additionally, we do manage our waters and fishing members. We have selectively stocked water bodies that our past experience has demonstrated will allow the fish to prosper. We also encourage with much success the practice of CPR, or, Catch, Photograph and Release.
These two aspects, being held accountable for our fishing recommendations and allocating memberships to those that believe in CPR, exist within privately operated hunting and fishing organizations such as Mid-America Hunting (and Fishing) Association. This makes for far better fishing quality than can ever be achieved on unregulated government access programs that allow indiscriminate fishing. Simply stocking a small body of water and allowing unregulated access will never be enough to make for a good day’s fishing.
Now back to the basis of what makes good “small impoundment” fishing, i.e., how we at MAHA classify privately owned bodies of water.
The Watershed Lake is the largest type of “privately held small impoundment” we currently have under lease for Missouri fishing. The largest is 25-35 acres, however the typical size is generally under 10 water surface acres.
The watershed lake characteristics include a high dam that allows this government built, but privately owned, water body to act as a flood control reservoir. It has the capacity to retain large amounts of flood waters while maintaining a constant outflow. The outflow through the dam is by way of a set sized pipe at the desired water level. As rainfall enters the watershed it is free flowing through this limiter of a set sized outflow pipe. Should rainfall amounts exceed that of the outflow pipe discharge capacity the high dam retains the excess water in the reservoir rather than allow it to continue flooding downstream. Eventually, the rain ceases and this system allows for a gradual reduction of the reservoir as the pipe allows for outflow.
The benefits to the fisherman with this body of water are a consistent water level, has a circulation of in/out flowing water and relative to the other types of impoundments a larger water volume.
Disadvantages largely center over the lack of subsurface structure. When these reservoirs were built, it was with the nearly single-minded intention of flood control. Their bottoms were scraped clean as a lot of dirt was required to first build the high dams and second to allow for expansion of the reservoir during times of flood.
A second disadvantage is these lakes were placed based on watershed locations and who had influence to get them built. As such the normal water area covered by the reservoir frequently transcends property lines. This allows for neighbors to our leased land and water access to the same water as our membership and the “exclusivity” of our lease is sustained only to that part of the shoreline within that owned by the landowner that contracted access with us.
Another body of water that has been build for the purposes of field irrigation transcends the gap between a watershed lake and the farm pond. These water bodies are of a great variety in size and fishing value. They are typically smaller than watershed lakes and generally are larger than farm ponds.
The irrigation lakes characteristics are fairly obvious. They are on or near crop fields and they have a pump facility on it, typically a diesel powered pump with a large fuel tank. These lakes typically have a randomness to their dam structure and have irregular shorelines.
As their purpose is agriculture they are more likely to have a build up of farm chemicals making the more valued fishing irrigation lakes being the ones with a consistent, or near consistent year round in/out flow.
The farm pond is a body of water typically under an acre in surface area. Contained within the property boundaries of the landowner under contract on a small watershed frequently also under the control of the landowner.
The farm pond frequently serves, or did serve, as an irrigation or stock water source. They generally have a more irregular waterline conforming to existing drainages or creek draws and as such have more subsurface structure as well as incidental structure brought in by beaver or by way of downed limbs and naturally felled trees.
The benefits of such a farm pond on fallow land is the clarity and cleanliness of the water. The actual inflow may be based entirely on rainfall or an intermittent stream. Frequently this inflow is over CRP or otherwise buffered drainages without the influence of farm chemicals or animal waste.
The stock pond is a glorified puddle. It is shallow and small in size to the point it does not support any fish. Its purpose is a water source for cattle or other stock and it is not recommended for fishing. They may hold small numbers of ducks, but typically are not consistent enough in their duck attracting characteristics to spend much hunting effort.
Missouri Fishing Waters
We offer a variety of water types without drunks or personal watercraft.
This is the end result we are after. Getting our members to the right kind of water to fish.
A Missouri watershed lake typically with a clean bottom and edge.
A farmer built irrigation lake where the dam was built without consideration of the back water area. This wall of a bank is on the south side of the lake. The steep banks and overhanging cedar trees make for a great shadow effect over deep water where the surrounding water has better circulation and therefore temperature and oxygen content than would a deep hole in the center of the lake. This would be a must fish spot on this lake.
Farm ponds offer the most water and structure diversity, are rarely maintained like an irrigation lake leaving much edge brush and have variable bottoms unlike a watershed lake.
A stock pond for cattle watering and useless for fish production.
Strip pits a leftover water body from ground cleared by surface coal mining leaving a hole to collect water.