Discover the Deepest Lake in Missouri

Table Rock Lake, Missouri
James D. Young/

Written by Cindy Rasmussen

Updated: July 26, 2023

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Missouri has some good-sized lakes including the Truman Reservoir near Warsaw, Missouri, Lake of the Ozarks in central Missouri, and Bull Shoals Lake on the border with Arkansas. Down by Branson, you will find the popular recreational lake Table Rock Lake. Rightfully named Stockton Lake is just south of the town of Stockton where you can enjoy some fine sailing. But which of these lakes is the deepest lake? Are the biggest lakes always the deepest? What surprises might we find at the bottom of the deepest lake? Is there really an underground lake in Missouri? Let’s find out all about the deepest lake in Missouri!

What Is the Deepest Lake in Missouri?

Table Rock Lake
Table Rock Lake is 220 feet deep at its deepest point.

The deepest lake in Missouri is Table Rock Lake. Located just SW of the tourist town of Branson, Table Rock Lake draws visitors to Table Rock State Park for boating, fishing, swimming, and camping. With the surrounding White River Hills in the Ozark Mountains, you get spectacular views along with oak forests and glades.

How Deep Is Table Rock Lake in Missouri?

The deepest lake in Missouri is Table Rock Lake

The deepest lake in Missouri is Table Rock Lake with a depth of 220 feet.

The deepest lake in Missouri, Table Rock Lake, is 220 feet deep. Table Rock Lake is on the White River in southwest Missouri, created when the river was dammed by the Table Rock Dam. The dam was built between 1954-1959 for the purpose of flood control but it is also used to generate hydroelectric power. The US Army Corps of Engineers Dewey Short Visitor Center is located at the dam where you can learn all about Table Rock Lake, the dam construction, and the wildlife that inhabits the area.

Where Is Table Rock Lake Located on a Map?

Table Rock Lake is located near Branson in the Ozarks in southwest Missouri which is located in the mid-west region of the United States. It is bordered by Nebraska to the northwest, Iowa to the north, Illinois to the east, Kentucky to the southeast, Tennesee and Arkansas to the south, Oklahoma to the southwest, and Kansas to the west.

Is Table Rock Lake the Biggest Lake in Missouri?

No. The biggest lake in Missouri is Truman Reservoir (named after President Harry S. Truman). Many people on Trivia Night get that one wrong, thinking the biggest lake is the famous Lake of the Ozarks which gained its fame from the Netflix drama Ozarks. The two lakes are close in size with the Truman Reservoir covering 55,600 acres of surface area and the Lake of the Ozarks covering 54,000 acres. Bull Shoals Lake is third with 45,150 acres and Table Rock Lake comes in as the fourth biggest lake in Missouri at 43,095 acres.

Truman Reservoir  Missouri

The biggest lake in Missouri is Truman Reservoir (named after President Harry S. Truman).

Is There a Ghost Town Buried under Table Rock Lake?

Yes! Well, maybe not a whole town, but the small village of Oasis which was located along Long Creek. The village was in the cove where the current Big Cedar Lodge is. Oasis was built around a mill that was on the river and included a general store, post office, and blacksmith shop. There were also multiple farms along the river and lake. When the government decided to build the dam along the White River the people of Oasis were forced to relocate. The dam project started in 1954 and was dedicated in 1959. It is believed that what is left of the “Ghost Village” of Oasis is around 100-150 feet below the surface of the lake.

fox scream at night - red fox in field

Red foxes are among the many animals that live around Table Rock Lake.

What Wildlife Can You See around Table Rock Lake?

In addition to the many species of fish available for catching in the lake, visitors can expect to see many animals that are native to the region, including white-tailed deer, red fox, gray fox, wild turkey, and a variety of songbirds. Great blue herons are often seen, as well as bald eagles, loons, and ospreys. Some desert species such as tarantulas, roadrunners,s and collared lizards can also be seen around the glade area.

What Do Roadrunners Eat?

Roadrunners don’t only live on highways – they also live around Table Rock Lake.

What About an Underground Lake in Missouri?

An underground lake is located in what is called the “Devil’s Well” near Aker’s, MO. There is a sinkhole that reveals a large underground lake. The lake water is surprisingly bright blue and can hold around 22 million gallons of water. The opening of the sinkhole to the top of the lake is around 100 feet and then the lake is about 80-100 feet deep. A staircase was built with a viewing area where you can see the eerily blue waters of the lake. You can also take a hike down to the outlet of the lake to Cave Spring on the Current River. The hike is considered “moderately strenuous” by the National Park Service, but visitors share it is worth it!

Can Fish Survive in a Deep Underwater Lake?

Yes! One of the most unique fish that are in Devil’s Well is the blind southern cavefish. They live in complete darkness but clearly have adapted because although rare, they still exist. They have a similar shape to a minnow and can grow to be 1 ½ – 2 ½ inches long. Their tail fin is rounded instead of forked and they have very small scales, so it looks like they are scaleless. It kind of sounds like the naked mole rat of the fish world!

largemouth bass

Largemouth bass are plentiful in Table Rock Lake.

What Kinds of Fish Can Be Found in Table Rock Lake?

The deepest lake in Missouri, Table Rock Lake, has a variety of fish with bass being the biggest draw. Fishing for smallmouth, largemouth, and black and spotted bass is very popular with some good catches recorded on the lake. You will also find bluegills, channel, and flathead catfish. Some anglers have found that in the fall the bass prefers the deeper waters of the lake. Certainly not 220 feet deep, but some of the deeper spots offshore.

Table Rock Lake, Missouri

Fishing for smallmouth, largemouth, black, and spotted bass is very popular at Table Rock Lake, Missouri.

Are There Any Fishing Records on Table Rock Lake?

Yes! There are quite a few with records kept for both typical pole and line catches as well as alternative methods like bow, trotline, snagging, jug ling, and limb line. Looking at the traditional pole and line (sometimes called rod and reel) records here are the recorder breakers for Table Rock Lake:

  • Longnose: 32 pounds 10 ounces, Anthony Shnur Jr., April 7, 2021
  • Spotted Bass: 7 pounds 8 ounces, Gene Arnaud, April 6, 1966
  • Hybrid Black Bass: 5 pounds 10 ounces, Mark Fann, March 17, 2004
  • White Bass: 5 pounds 6 ounces, Scott Flood, March 19, 2002

Judging by these records I would recommend fishing Table Rock in March and April, especially if you want to reel in a trophy-sized catch!

American Paddlefish swimming in a stream

The biggest fish ever caught in Missouri was a 140-pound 10-ounce paddlefish.

What Is the Biggest Fish Ever Caught in Missouri?

The record for the biggest fish ever caught in Missouri was just broken this past spring! On March 18, 2022, Jim Dain was out fishing on Lake of the Ozarks. He told a reporter a typical fish story quote “We weren’t having much luck but decided to fish for another hour…” and the rest is history! He used a fishing technique called “snagging” in which the angler uses a grappling hook on a fishing line to snag the fish vs. having the fish bite down on a hook. Dain snagged a massive paddlefish that weighed 140 pounds 10 ounces, just one ounce heavier than the previous record. The previous record was a 140-pound 9-ouncer caught on Table Rock Lake.

How Does the Deepest Lake in Missouri Compare to the Deepest Lake in the US?

The deepest lake in Missouri, Table Rock Lake, is 220 feet deep. The deepest lake in the US is Crater Lake in Oregon which is 1,949 feet deep. Clearly quite a bit deeper. While Table Rock Lake is a manmade lake built for flood control, Crater Lake is a natural lake made when Mount Mazama collapsed thousands of years ago. A crater formed at the top of the collapsed volcano and over the years it filled in with natural water from rainfalls and snow melts. All of the water in Crater Lake even today is all freshwater from either rain or snow. The National Park Service, which manages the lake and the Crater Lake National Park around it, works diligently to maintain one of the cleanest lakes in the world.

Crater Lake form the top of Watchman's Peak

The deepest lake in the US is Crater Lake in Oregon which is 1,949 feet deep.

What Is at the Bottom of Crater Lake?

There is no ghost town at the bottom of Crater Lake. There are unique tunnels formed from dead aquatic moss that lurk in the bottom of the deepest lake in the US. Layers of dead moss accumulate to form these tunnels with walls that are quite thick in parts. The moss has been measured to be growing as deep as 75-300 feet deep. Besides moss, scientists have discovered bacteria that can live at nearly 2,000 feet deep! Fascinating, and obviously an area that needs more exploration. While moss and bacteria are not quite as exciting as an underwater ghost town (to some) it is still an opportunity to learn about life in the deepest lakes.  

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About the Author

I'm a Wildlife Conservation Author and Journalist, raising awareness about conservation by teaching others about the amazing animals we share the planet with. I graduated from the University of Minnesota-Morris with a degree in Elementary Education and I am a former teacher. When I am not writing I love going to my kids' soccer games, watching movies, taking on DIY projects and running with our giant Labradoodle "Tango".

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