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OCdockskipper

August Busch Memorial Conservation Lakes

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I will be in St. Louis next month (September) and will be staying across from the August Busch Memorial Conservation Area for a few days.  I have been doing some research on the lakes & ponds there, but had a few questions for those who have fished it quite often.  I'm not looking for specific lures, techniques or spots, but rather want to get a feel for what the lakes are like in order to decide which gear to bring.  If you have fished them in the past, I'd appreciate any input you could give in regards to the following:

  • Are most of the lakes similar when it comes to depth, structure & cover or do they vary quite a bit?
     
  • What is the predominate form of cover and is it dense or sparse?
     
  • How accessible are the shorelines for most of the lakes?  Can you fish most of the perimeter or are you stuck with designated fishing locations?
     
  • Do the shorelines vary in depth & rate of drop off or are most of them the same?  If the latter, what kind of depth are we looking at?

 

Thanks in advance.

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  • Are most of the lakes similar when it comes to depth, structure & cover or do they vary quite a bit?
  • Yes, most the lakes are pretty similar, deepest parts are usually near the man made dams, with lots of shallow flats.
  • What is the predominate form of cover and is it dense or sparse?
  • A lot of the lakes by this time in the season have grown pretty thick with hydrilla and matted grass on the surface of the water in the shallower areas. Crankbaits are going to be hard to fish, unless you are willing to clean the lure off very frequently.
  • How accessible are the shorelines for most of the lakes?  Can you fish most of the perimeter or are you stuck with designated fishing locations?
    Almost all the lakes have large expanses of shoreline to fish.
  • Do the shorelines vary in depth & rate of drop off or are most of them the same?  If the latter, what kind of depth are we looking at?
  • Except for the dam on lake 35 most of them seem pretty similar. Some areas are large flats, some are gradual drops to 10ftish.

If I head up there on my lunch break tomorrow I'll try to snap some pictures for you. Some things to note:

-You can rent a boat for $5, comes with oars if you want to paddle yourself, or you can put a deposit down on a trolling motor and battery and use that. http://www.outpostbaitandtackle.com/

-I'd recoommend 33, 34, or 35 as they are the bigger lakes and I have caught a few good sized bass out of 35. 35 is very grassy/hydrilla though. Think Florida flippin/Punching.

- I have been having some good success on weightless flukes the past few days. 

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Great information, thank you very much.  

With that amount of grass & hydrilla, the boat rental with the electric motors sounds like the way to go.  When I looked at the area in Google maps, it looks like you can drive from lake to lake.  I rented a small SUV, so that would make it easy to haul the electric motor, battery & gear if I switched lakes.

Have you noticed any difference with the 3 catch & release lakes (16, 31 & 32)?  I wondered if those 3 lakes received less pressure?

Again, thanks for the info.

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It's been a couple years since I fished it but I think you have to go back to the main entrance/rental place if you want to switch lakes. The boats are locked up and I think each lake uses different locks. I don't think they charged us to switch lakes but it's been awhile so not sure.

I think boats the way to go on a lot of them because the ones I fished with boats had very limited shore access. I purposely stayed away from the more popular ones which had more pressure and easier shore access.  Have also walked deep into woods for a few lakes well off the beaten path, a couple were pretty decent but had very limited shoreline access.

mo_lmb is spot on with the lake descriptions.

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11 hours ago, OCdockskipper said:

Have you noticed any difference with the 3 catch & release lakes (16, 31 & 32)?  I wondered if those 3 lakes received less pressure?

 

#31 is decent, haven't really fished the others to know much about them. All the lakes are pretty pressured. It's one of the only large public fishing areas in a populated metropolitan area so you get a lot of people visiting it regularly. I'd say the majority of people are fishing for crappie and catfish so that helps somewhat, but there is still a lot of bass pressure. I usually stick to 35 since it is rather large and a bit more diverse compared to the other lakes. Also, it has Musky in it so there is always the chance you can hook into one of those on 35. 33 is supposedly the best lake for big bass. http://fishing.mdc.mo.gov/reports/august-busch-memorial-and-weldon-spring-conservation-areas

Got this one on a buzzbait on 35 back in Oct.

  5735d379da782_photo(3).JPG.8adea25040458

9 hours ago, venom said:

It's been a couple years since I fished it but I think you have to go back to the main entrance/rental place if you want to switch lakes. The boats are locked up and I think each lake uses different locks. I don't think they charged us to switch lakes but it's been awhile so not sure.

Yes, you are supposed to go back to the bait shop to switch out keys for boats, but I think they are the same key for all the boats. 

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I fish Busch 2-3 days a week and MO_LMB has given some good advice.  I'm currently spending some time charting the lakes and uploading all of the info to Navionics, so if you have access to the app, keep an eye out for updates.  So far I am filling in Lake 6 in pretty well, but I'll be working on 35 tomorrow morning.  

35 is also my favorite and is always good for numbers if nothing else. Biggest I've caught there this year so far was 3lbs 13oz.  I've had plenty of 20+ fish days there. Clear water, but lots of vegetation. It ranges from about 2 to 24 feet in depth. There is a lot of timber but you won't find it without getting snagged on it or having a depth finder.  There is a cove that has a deep channel (about 12 feet) running through it. No one seems to fish the channel because it's hard to find and tough to pick out the grass edges.  When you figure it out though, there will be fish there.  

Never fished 33. Too many people usually for me, but once the temp drops, I'll hit it up some weekday.  38 is a mini 35 in regards to vegetation.  Again, lots of trees and brush. 30 has potential. I've caught several from the bank on top water. Nothing real big but I haven't spent much time there either.  34 is lily pad heaven but I've only fished it twice and the bass weren't cooperating. Did catch a couple in the 1-2 pound range on a whopper plopper near stumps though. 

The boat keys are not all universal although they sometimes do work on multiple lakes. It is just as easy to go back to the Outpost tackle shop and swap keys. Plus, they really appreciate it because it helps them track the boats. Some lakes have limited boats so if you are tieing up the lake key, but not the boat, it still makes the boat unavailable.  

Like I said, I am there all of the time, so if you want a tour, let me know. I have my company work van most of the time, so I'm easy to find.  

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Thanks for the info Onvacation, I appreciate it.  I have a portable Hummingbird depthfinder that I believe will fit in my luggage, I am planning on taking that with me.  If you go to lake 35 and see a dude from California in a rental boat sitting on that creek channel, that will be me :D

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If you have the Navionics app, check out the lakes online.  I have four files pending and two of them are 35. The rest are lake six.  Lake 6 is starting to fill out nicely but I am anxious to get some of my 35 charts up so I can see them. It is starting to die down there a bit in regards to the number of people so I'm going to start charting some other lakes soon as well. 

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