Articles by John Neporadny Jr. - February 2010
Lake of the Ozarks Ideal For Vacations And
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
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
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
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
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
ramps. For information on lodging and other facilities at the Lake of the Ozarks
or to receive a free 162-page 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. 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.
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.