Missouri Outdoors

Bull Shoals Lake Information

Whether you enjoy boating, skiing, fishing, swimming, camping, picnicking, or even scuba diving Bull Shoals Lake has an activity for you. 

Fishing Information

Bull Shoals FishingHolding several Arkansas and Missouri state records, the With River lake’s reputation is well justified as it enjoys wide recognition as a prime fishery. Opportunities abound for many species, ranging from pan fish to bass to walleye and trout. With over 450 attractors being placed in Bull Shoals Lake, the fish attractor program improves habitat and enhances fishing experience.

You will need to use a line that is a light green in color and no larger than 6 to 8 pound test! The clear waters require the use of the right line color and size to avoid spooking the fish.

Thermocline forms in May and erodes by November and is usually 22 to 28 feet deep. Surface temperature rarely exceeds 85° F or falls below 40° F. Surface temperature reaches 60° F by mid April and 70° F by early May. Fall turnover usually occurs in mid to late November. There is no true spring turnover in the south.

The shoreline of Bull Shoals Lake is typically limestone shelfrock, rubble, ledges, gravel points, clay banks, and silty areas at the upper ends of the creek arms. There is very little sandy shoreline, and elevation varies from bluff to gentle slope. Types of fish cover found on Bull Shoals Lake are a good combination of  natural and man-made. Natural cover structure is deep water, rock formations, points, creek channel breaks and swings, submerged islands, occasional old timber, shoreline vegetation often flooded in the spring (greenbriar, button bush, deciduous holly, persimmon, water willow, smartweed). There is no aquatic vegetation.

Bass Fishing

Largemouth bass populations are good on Bull Shoals lake with increased catch rates of 15-17 inch fish common.  Very high catch rates of 11-13 inch fish are also in store for the Bull Shoals fisherman.  Crankbaits, spinnerbaits, jigs, and plastic worms catch the majority of the black bass species. During the spring, fall and early winter months, bass can be found relatively shallow along rocky points, banks and channel swing areas. Other times of the year, fish will move into water 30-40 feet deep.


Walleye fishing on Bull Shoals is good with a lot of fish in the 18-20 inch range.   Rogues, live bait, and jigs catch the majority of fish during the early spring months. In the late spring, summer, and fall, minnows and nightcrawlers rigged on bottom-bouncers, and crankbaits slowly trolled along flats and points

White Bass

White bass average sizes vary depending on the spawns from year to year.  You should see a high percentage of 13 inch fish or higher.


Crappie fishing continues to be great on Bull Shoals.  Be sure and grab a map of the fish attractors at the visitor center for the locations of brush piles.


Black bass—15” minimum length limit on largemouth and smallmouth bass; 12” minimum length limit on spotted bass

Catfish (channel, blue and flathead)—10 fish daily limit, combined total of these three species

Crappie—10” minimum length limit; 15 fish daily limit

Walleye and sauger—18” minimum length limit

In the Swan Creek Arm above U.S. Highway 160:
From Feb. 20 through April 14, walleye and sauger may be taken and possessed only between 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset.

From Powersite Dam to Highway 76:
Trotlines, throwlines and limb lines are prohibited.


Bull Shoals MissouriBull Shoals Dam was created to impound the White River by one of the largest concrete dams in the United States and the 5th largest dam in the world in it's time.  Work on the dam began in 1947, was completed in 1951 and dedicated by President Harry S. Truman in 1952. Recent national events include Brostock 2010 and 2011 and the TBF Bass Federation and Bassmaster Elite Series Tournaments in 2012.

The dam construction finalized with the power system installation completed in 1952. The cost was $76 million, plus nearly $30 million for the power system.  Building materials were transported by two specially constructed projects. A conveyor belt 30 inches wide and 7.8 miles long carried the rock aggregate from Lee's Mountain near Flippin to the dam site concrete plant. It broke down only once when struck by lightning. A railroad spur was built to move the steel, cement and heavy equipment from the Cotter railhead. The rail spur followed the east bank of the White River to the dam site.

Bull Shoals Lake BuildingIn 1952 President Truman, in a crisp white suit and white Panama hat, dedicated Norfork Dam in a brief ceremony at 8:45 a.m. and then, Bull Shoals Dam, in the main ceremony at 10:30 a.m. President Truman pledged to build more dams and to get the electricity produced to the people through the Rural Electric Cooperatives. "I've just asked the Congress to appropriate money for Table Rock Dam on this same river up in Missouri," saying it should be started that same year.

Bull Shoals Lake impounds the White River for the last time as water travels toward its mouth on the Mississippi River. Bull Shoals is thus the lake farthest downstream in a chain of four artificial lakes that include (from upstream to downstream) Beaver Lake, Table Rock Lake and Lake Taneycomo. The lake is controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers and has the primary purpose of flood control. The level of the lake fluctuates regularly with a normal pool level elevation of 654 feet above sea level, which is locally known as powerpool. However, the lake regularly fluctuates between an elevation of 630 to 680 feet. 

Don't forget to pick up your Missouri Fishing License  before heading out