Lake Wappapello is about 8,500 acres and stretches for 30 miles along the valley of the St. Francis River. The source of the name is unclear, but Wappapello is probably what pioneers called a Shawnee Indian chief whose name was similar. It is about 100 miles south of the St. Louis area.
The lake is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a flood control reservoir, which means most of its banks are wild and natural, except for places that provide necessary services, such as Holliday Landing Resort & Marina.
Located in the eastern Ozarks, the dam for the lake is basically where the river poured out of the hill, into the fertile Mississippi Delta.
The lake level is at “summer pool,” from about May 1 through December 1 each year. In December the level is dropped about 5 feet for “winter pool,” when the lake essentially becomes the river channel that runs through it. In March, the lake level is raised a couple feet to “mid-pool.” Fishing is often at its best when the fish are quarantined to the smaller areas during winter pool and mid-pool.
Fishermen are attracted to Wappapello for its white bass, crappie, catfish, bluegill, and bass fishing. In the summer, boaters can enjoy a variety of water sports, such as swimming, tubing, and water skiing. At times, when the water is too cool to enjoy water sports, you can still appreciate the scenery and serenity of a boat ride. Many people take advantage of Holliday Landing’s boat rental to rent a pontoon. Look at the scenery, and then find a nice spot to anchor and swim. It’s a terrific group outing! Others bring individual kayaks and quietly cruise up coves to get close to nature.
Bird watchers will enjoy viewing eagles at Wappapello year round now, with nests on and near the lake. In winter, Missouri is the nation's major wintering ground for eagles and many of them show up at Wappapello.
There is a large heron rookery Across from Holliday Landing. It is comical to listen to their squawking in the spring breeding season.
The great thing about Lake Wappapello is that there is so much to see and do that there is enough variety to create a quality vacation that everyone will love!