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Lake of the Ozarks Ideal For Vacations And Bass Fishing by John Neporadny Jr.


Lake of the Ozarks Ideal For Vacations And Bass Fishing

by John Neporadny Jr.

Always well-known as one of the Midwest’s most popular vacation spots,
the Lake of the Ozarks has also quietly developed into a top-rated
bass  reservoir throughout the  years.

This 58,000-acre lake in central Missouri generates year-round action
for both largemouth and spotted bass.  Fed by the Osage, Grand Glaize
and Niangua rivers, this massive reservoir runs 92 miles long and
offers anglers more than 1,000 miles of shoreline and numerous deep-water
structures to fish.

The lack of recreational boat traffic makes winter a popular season
for bass anglers at the Lake of the Ozarks. On mild days in December and January, local anglers concentrate
on main lake points for largemouths and  bluff walls for spotted bass.  Popular lures
include a plastic grub or a Fat Gitzit on a 1/4-ounce jighead,
which should be dropped  to depths of 15 to 30 feet. The best wintertime spots are the clear-water
areas close to the dam, the lower Osage arm and the mouths of the
Niangua and Gravois arms.

More patterns start to develop in February. Weighted deep-diving
stick baits work best along main and secondary points in the Grand
Glaize, Niangua and Gravois arms.  Bass start moving shallower in
these tributary arms since the water tends to warm faster than the
main lake.  Bass can be taken right along the bank
on the Niangua arm,  but in most areas of the tributaries the fish
hold at 6 to 8 feet deep. Some of the most productive spots are big chunk
rock secondary points in the backs of the  major coves. Bluff-end points also hold plenty of staging fish.

The weighted stick bait pattern usually produces best in late February
through  March. Anglers use either the manufacturer’s suspending models
or modify  floating stick baits with a variety of weights. These lures are  one of the
more prominent big stringer baits in March.  The key to catching these lethargic bass in the cold, clear
water is a slow retrieve which keeps the lure suspended in the bass’
strike zone.

In this late winter-early spring stage, bass also start gorging on
crawfish in the shallows. Storm Wiggle Warts or Bomber Model A crankbaits produce best
during this time.   On  warm, sunny days, you can also catch bass flipping a jig and pork frog in the
upper arms of the tributaries.

The lake usually yields its heaviest stringers of bass from March through
the end of April.  Bass will be in the pre-spawn  and
spawning stages in April and May when a multitude of patterns unfold.   Some
of the top-producing lures in the spring include jerk baits, crankbaits,
jigs and pork frogs and plastic lizards.  Dragging a Carolina-rigged
plastic lizard along pea gravel banks and pockets in the backs of
the big creeks and coves is one of the most productive springtime tactics.

Anglers can sight fish for bedding bass in the clearer arms of the
lake, such as the Gravois and areas around the dam. However some anglers
prefer running up the Osage arm to find dirtier water, which causes
bass to spawn shallower and hit lures more aggressively.  The upper
Osage becomes an excellent area to flip a jig when the lake level
rises and floods the shoreline bushes.  Depending on the weather,
the spawn usually starts anywhere from the second week of April and
runs into late May.

Some fish start using the lake’s numerous docks as cover for spawning
in the spring.  The best dock patterns usually
run from the post-spawn stage through fall.

After the spawn, bass pull back to the  main lake points  or steep
bluff banks  and suspend under  docks which  offer cover and shade. Post spawn is a
prime time to catch bass on a  variety
of topwater lures.

Fishing can be good during the summer if you avoid the peak times
of recreational activity.  Early and late in the day, bass move up shallow on the points to feed,
but when the  pleasure boating activity increases, the fish drop
down to the bottom even as deep as 35 feet on main-lake points or
under docks along steep banks.

The best fishing for the average angler occurs in the early morning.
Try  throwing  small topwater lures, such as a Rebel
Pop-R or Heddon Tiny Torpedo  to catch spotted
bass along main lake points in the clear-water areas from the dam
to the 22-mile mark.  Other productive morning lures include Zara
Spooks, crankbaits  and plastic worms.  From June through early September,
the best methods for taking bass during mid-day is working Texas-
or Carolina-rigged 7- to 11-inch plastic worms along points and in
deep brush piles under docks.

The lake’s lower end also offers excellent nocturnal action for bass
during the summertime.  A 10- to 11-inch plastic worm  worked slowly
through main lake brush produces some heavyweight catches during this
time.   A general  guideline  for summertime fishing on Lake of the
Ozarks is to concentrate on the dirty-water arms during the day and
the clear-water areas at night.

The prime season for catching numbers of bass at Lake of the Ozarks
is the fall.   If the lake level rises and floods the shoreline vegetation,
bass can be caught in the weeds on buzz baits or flipping jigs and plastic worms.
Bass follow baitfish into the shallows of the creeks
where  they can be taken on plastic worms and lizards, jigs and pork
frogs, topwater lures, spinnerbaits and stick baits.

Throwing a spinnerbait around shallow docks on the flats of the
upper Osage arm is one of the most productive fall patterns. Working a Zara Spook around the
same docks also takes bass, especially on cloudy days.

In November and early December, bass migrate out of the creeks back
towards the main lake points. Along the route, bass suspend around
docks that have plenty of brush or deep-water structure, such as creek
channel swings, underneath the floating cover.  The fish tend to
stack up this time of year and seem to  group  by size as
anglers can   frequently catch several 3- to 4-pounders from one spot.
One effecive technique for  these bass is to cast a jig and pork
frog around the docks and let the lure fall into the brush piles.
Spinnerbaits and crankbaits retrieved through the suspended fish also
work well then.

The Lake of the Ozarks has plenty of year-round accommodations
available  no matter which season you enjoy fishing.   A multitude
of motels and family resorts and  private campground
sites are spread throughout the lake area.  Public camp sites are
available at the Lake of the Ozarks State Park.  The lake also
has  numerous marinas, along with  public and private launch
Although best known  as a  summer vacation hot spot,  the Lake of
the Ozarks has quietly become a choice Midwest location for bass anglers
to visit during any season.
For information on lodging and other facilities
at the Lake of the Ozarks or to receive a free   vacation guide, call the
Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-FUN-LAKE or visit the Lake of the Ozarks Convention
and Visitors Bureau web site at funlake.com.
Copies of John Neporadny’s book, “THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Guide” are
available by calling 573/365-4296 or visiting the web site www.jnoutdoors.com.

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