Ronald and Maude Hartell Conservation Area

Bank Fishing Missouri Series

The bank fishing series will feature short write ups from Matt Keefer, an avid angler who enjoys exploring conservation areas many folks overlook. He is the founder of a Facebook fishing group called “Fishing Western Mo“. Be sure to check it out!

Hartell Conservation Area Overview:

The Ronald and Maude Hartell Conservation Area is a lot like James A Reed, just a lot better. The area has five public ponds you can fish. Sunfish lake is just for kids events, and there are clearly marked signs to help you know which one it is.

You will pass the game wardens house as soon as you enter the park. If you see him, say hi and ask him what they are biting on. You may just get some insider info.

The nice part about this conservation land is you can just pull up and fish.


This area was open in 1947 as a sportsman’s club. At the time it only had 2 ponds on it, but I’m not sure which are the originals. It remained a private club until the MDC got the land in 1999. Until 2015 or 2016, you could only use artificial bait and it was catch-and-release only.


Redear lake is a great little pond that has lots of bluegill and crappie in it. There are some big bass in this pond and I have had my line snap more then once.

Picnic Lake is the largest of the ponds on the area. The biggest bass I have ever seen was caught out of this lake. I did not catch it myself. Another guy was fishing here and we were just talking. He caught it and called me over to look at it. We were both so excited about this bass that he threw it back before we got a picture.

I have also heard stories of very large crappie in Picnic Lake. I have never caught one, but have never really tried, either. There is a nice fishing dock on this pond, which adds another nice feature for access.

The other ponds at Hartell Conservation area have good bass in them. I have fished them all throughout the years. If they are not really biting in one, they will be biting in another. So be sure to jump around because they will be biting somewhere.

The last thing I will let you know is most of the ponds have a boat on them. The boats are free and are on a first come, first serve basis. They do have paddles. If you plan on using them don’t forget the life jackets for the kids.

Good Luck!!

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