Articles by John Neporadny Jr. - July
Lake of the Ozarks is a Great Fishery
By John Neporadny Jr.
Known as one of the Midwestís most popular
vacation spots, Lake of the Ozarks also has a reputation of being one of the
best fishing lakes in the country.
Although younger reservoirs appeal to an anglerís
eye with flooded timber and undeveloped shorelines, the Lake of the Ozarks
entices fishermen with its hidden charms. This 54,000-acre lake lost most of its
natural cover when the standing timber was cleared before the lake was formed.
New cover has developed over the years as dock owners and anglers have planted
brush piles throughout the impoundment. Other fish-holding structure includes
steep bluffs, creek channels, humps, and points. Docks provide plenty of shelter
for a variety of fish, while lay-downs and log jams are the primary cover for
bass, crappie and catfish in the undeveloped sections of the lake.
The various arms of the lake offer diverse
water clarity and structure so anglers can catch fish on a wide range of
tactics. The Osage arm runs 98 miles from Bagnell Dam to Truman Dam and changes
drastically from one end to the other. The North Shore section close on the
lower end contains some of the deepest and clearest water on the lake, while the
upper Osage near Warsaw narrows until it turns riverine in appearance with the
water remaining stained to murky most of the time. The winding Niangua arm
resembles a large river more than a reservoir since it has few major coves and a
narrow main channel for most of its length.
The 10-mile Gravois arm is one of the oldest
developed sections of the lake so its shoreline is dotted with boat docks. Fed
by the gin-clear waters of the Gravois, Little Gravois, Spring Branch, Soap,
Indian and Mill creeks, this arm usually remains one of the clearest sections of
the lake throughout the year. The Grand Glaize arm runs about 16 miles from its
confluence with the Osage arm to the swinging bridges area where the Glaize
narrows down to a stream.
If variety is indeed the spice of life, then
Lake of the Ozarks spices anglersí lives with its smorgasbord of fishing
opportunities. The lake rates as one of the best reservoirs in Missouri for
catching a variety of game fish. Largemouth bass and crappie are the most
sought-after fish at the lake, but catfish, white bass, walleye and sunfish also
offer plenty of action throughout the year.
The Missouri Department of Conservationís
9-inch minimum length limit on crappie has helped keep crappie fishing
consistently good throughout the year. Limits of keeper-size crappie can be
taken in the shallows from March through May and again in October through early
December. The key to catching crappie the rest of the year is to find some of
the hundreds of brush piles sunken at various depths throughout the lake.
The lake is also loaded with keeper-size bass
thanks to the Missouri Department of Conservationís 15-inch minimum length
regulation on black bass. Renowned for its bass fishing, Lake of the Ozarks
draws numerous tournaments ranging in size from 10-boat bass club events to
150-boat national circuit contests, which are held each weekend just about
year-round. With this sort of attention, the lake receives plenty of fishing
pressure, yet still yields heavyweight stringers of bass to tournament
White bass are another popular catch in the
spring and the fall. Local anglers head for the riffles in the major creeks and
tributaries to catch spawning whites in April and May. In the fall, they target
wind-blown points and pockets to track down white bass chasing baitfish.
Lake of the Ozarks catfish are an obliging
sort. They will eat just about anything you put on a hook and can be taken on a
variety of methods throughout the warmer months. The three most popular species
to catch at the lake are channel, blue (or white cats as the local anglers call
them) and flathead catfish. The lake has a reputation for yielding big blue cats
each year and has also produced a former state record flathead catfish, a
66-pounder caught by Howard Brownfield in 1987.
Three state record fish have come from the Lake
of the Ozarks. Gene Snelling caught a state record muskellunge (41 pounds, 2
ounces) in 1981; Allen Schweiss landed a 36-pound, 12-ounce smallmouth buffalo
in 1986; and Ronald Wagner made the record book in 1980 with a 40-pound, 8-ounce
Several marinas and resorts rent boat to
visiting anglers who donít own one and want to venture out on the water.
Newcomers to the lake also can have a rewarding day on the water by hiring a
Coast-Guard licensed guide.
Customers at the various lake resorts on the
lake can enjoy catching crappie, bass bluegill and catfish from the docks that
the resort owners enhance by sinking brush piles in multiple locations.
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 www.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.