Some people think of the West when the Platte River is mentioned, but Missouri also has a Platte River. Record-breaking, skillet-filling catfish are among the attractions the Platte River and its tributaries in Northwest Missouri have to offer.
The Platte River flows 138 miles from the Iowa state line through five Missouri counties to its confluence with the Missouri River north of Kansas City. Within its watershed are numerous public lands providing many outdoor opportunities.
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) maintains 12 stream access sites along the Platte in addition to five Conservation Areas (CA) consisting of a total of more than 5,000 acres.
Public access areas along the Platte offer everything from deer and turkey to rabbits, quail and pheasants for hunters. Hikers will find miles of trails leading to excellent birdwatching, mushroom hunting and plenty of rolling topography providing lovely scenery.
Part of the Happy Holler Lake CA, northeast of Savannah in Andrew County, is situated on the 102 River, providing access to this Platte River tributary. Camping is allowed at designated sites on the area.
The largest CA in the watershed is Platte Falls, north of Platte City. This 2,333-acre tract is split by nine miles of the Platte River. Anglers may spend days bank-fishing along the Platte without seeing another angler or fishing the same hole twice.
Floating this stretch is made possible by the ramp at Sharp’s Station Access at the upper boundary of the CA. Steep, muddy banks require careful negotiation.
Archery and shotgun ranges are available on Platte Falls. Because of nearby urbanization, hunting is limited to shotguns and shot shells. Deer may be taken by archery methods only.
Contact MDC’s office at 701 N.E. College Drive, St. Joseph, MO 64507, or phone (816) 271-3100 for more formation on CAs.
From MDC’s Sheridan Access in Worth County, downstream river travelers will find rocky riffles, sand bars and a considerable amount of stream channelization. These obstacles don’t prevent the determined angler from enjoying catches of channel catfish, flathead catfish and carp.
Crop fields along the Platte River can provide memorable hunting during the fall. Upland game and waterfowl abound. Woodlots and streamsides sporting oaks provide action for squirrel hunters, and lowlands grow thick with willows and soft maple — appealing resting places for deer. Be sure to get permission when hunting private land, and treat landowners with courtesy.
Below Agency Access in Buchanan County, the Platte returns to its natural course for the most part. The stream widens, but it’s still pretty much a johnboat or canoe stream. Boaters will find it necessary to carry their craft from parking lots to the stream at MDC accesses, except in Platte County, where Schimmel City Access and Sharp’s Station have concrete boat ramps. There is a skid ramp (not for vehicle use, designed to slide small boats to the water) at Humphrey Access, also in Platte County.
MDC’s Rochester Falls Access in Andrew County is on Highway 169 east of Savannah and St. Joseph. The access is outfitted for camping and picnicking, and there is ample opportunity to fish.
The shelf rock formations for which the area is named cross the stream at the upper end of the property. A small warm-season grass planting is another point of interest, recalling the appearance of this region during pre-settlement times. Saxton Access in Buchanan County has the distinction of being the place where a state-record fish was caught. on July 15, 1992, Anthony Winans of St. Joseph outlasted a 55-pound 12-ounce grass carp that fell for a prepared bait. Who knows what other behemoths may lurk in the waters of the Platte?
Tributaries of the Missouri River have a tendency to produce memorable catches. If Winans’ catch isn’t enough to pique your interest, seasonal white bass and crappie fishing may provide the incentive to explore the Platte.
(From a series of articles by the Missouri Department of Conservation entitled the Show-Me River Showcase)