For Immediate Release Media Contact: Steve Kappler or Marjorie Beenders
April 8, 2008 Phone: 573-636-8282 « Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Get a Line on Great Year-Round Fishing
at Central Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks
Lake of the Ozarks, Mo. –Every angler has his or her particular preferences regarding rods, reels and bait. But one thing all fishermen can agree on is the fantastic year-round fishing at Central Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks. With more than 1,150 miles of shoreline and 54,000 surface acres, plus rock bluffs, mud flats, gravel bars, coves, creeks, docks and crappie beds, it’s no wonder generations of anglers from across America are hooked on fishing at the Lake of the Ozarks.
The Lake is loaded with a variety of fish species, says Greg Stoner, fisheries management biologist for the Missouri Department of Conservation. He says the most sought-after game species in the Lake are largemouth bass, spotted bass, black and white crappie, blue catfish, channel catfish, flathead catfish, white bass, hybrid stripers, paddlefish, walleye and bluegill. “Bluegill save a lot of fishing trips,” Stoner notes. “When nothing else is biting, they’ll always bite.”
There are no special areas of the Lake to go to in order to catch any particular species, Stoner says. “It’s a big lake and the fish are pretty much spread throughout it,” he notes. He advises anglers to forget about learning to fish the entire Lake. “The best spot to fish is the one you are most familiar with,” he says. “Choose one spot on the Niangua, Gravois or Grand Glaize arms and learn it well. You’ll be successful.”
Most species can be caught year-round. “They just change their habits,” Stoner adds. For example, most of the year walleye, paddlefish and white bass are scattered throughout the Lake. But in the springtime, because they are migratory, they tend to congregate in the upper ends of the Niangua, Gravois or Grand Glaize arms, he says.
Fish aren’t the only ones who change their habits; fishermen also adjust to the seasons, Stoner says. In the winter a lot of people fish for crappie at Lake area resorts that have heated docks with unexpected amenities. Holiday Shores in Lake Ozark is a perfect example. Manager Lori Piedt says fishermen have been coming to the resort for years and the resort caters to them. There’s a big fish-cleaning station, a lot of space for boat and trailer parking, a private launch, two fishing docks and a heated, fully electric covered dock with 20 slips. “It even has cable TV and comfortable couches,” Piedt notes. “Also we’re back in a quiet cove on the main channel with crappie beds sunk all around.”
Year-Round Fishing at Lake of the Ozarks – FIRST ADD
In general, spring and fall are the best times to fish, Stoner says. “The spring crappie spawn is especially good for fishing. Fishing in summer can get a little tough with all the pleasure boats out. But even in the winter, as long as the ice is not too thick to get a boat through, you can fish.”
In fact, a lot of anglers prefer the peace and quiet of winter fishing. “It’s the time of year you can pinpoint bass movements, giving you a chance to follow them into the spawn,” says Conservation Agent Sean Ernst. “You need to head off-shore if you want to catch a dandy fish. Look for main lake points and secondary points. The bass are going to be attracted to the deep structure because it draws the shad and funnels the current. On sunny winter days,” he adds, “fish head for shallower water along the rock banks. The rocky bank will draw warmth and attract the food source and the bass will in turn come to find the baitfish.”
Tournaments and Trophy Fish
With its wide variety of fish species and locations to catch them, it’s no wonder the Lake of the Ozarks is home to more than 500 amateur and pro bass fishing tournaments every year. The Lake is on several regional and national bass tournament circuits, and it hosts numerous local and charity competitions. In fact, two well known father-son duos who are active on the professional bass tournament circuit live in the Lake area: Guido and Dion Hibdon and Denny and Chad Brauer.
The Hibdons are the only father-son pair to win BASSMasters Classic titles. Born and raised at the Lake of the Ozarks, Guido became a guide as a teenager, like his own father, and turned pro in 1980; Chad, who also was a teenage fishing guide, followed in 1985. Guido won the 1988 BASSMaster Classic and was named Angler of the Year in 1990 and 1991. Today his career winnings top $609,300.
As for Dion, he’s still the youngest qualifier for the BASSMasters Classic. He also won the 2000 Wal-Mart FLW Tour championship. His career earnings top $582,400. In addition to fishing, Dion also is a successful bait and tackle designer (he came up with the famed Guido Bug). The third generation of Hibdons is now coming up: Dion’s son Payden won the 2006 Junior BASSMasters World Championship.
Denny Brauer, the first fisherman to appear on a Wheaties cereal box, has earned more than $2 million during his 25-plus-year professional career. He won the BASSMasters Classic title in 1998 plus 15 other BASSMasters tournament victories. In addition, Denny was named 198 BASS Angler of the year and won the FLW Tour in 1998. He has been the host of the national TV show, “Bass Class.” He says, “There are a lot of lakes around that have certain good fishing areas but the Lake of the Ozarks is unique with its coves, trees and irregular shoreline which hold a diverse fish population.”
BASSMaster Classic qualifier Chad Brauer adds, “Because of the size of the Lake, at any given time you can go to different areas and catch fish using different techniques. That makes it unique to me.” His favorite time to fish, he says, is in the fall, winter and early spring. “That’s when there’s hardly any boat traffic,” he says, “and that’s when some of the bigger fish are caught.”
And some big fish certainly have been caught in the Lake of the Ozarks. Record-breakers from the last decade include a 20-lb., 8-oz. hybrid striper; a 40-lb., 8-oz. drum; a 36-lb., 12-oz. buffalo; a 42-lb., 2-oz. muskie; a 91-lb. blue catfish; and a whopping 134-lb., 12-oz. paddlefish.
Year-Round Fishing at Lake of the Ozarks – SECOND ADD
Hatchery and Bonus Fish
Most of the Lake species are naturally abundant; however, the Lake’s stock of walleye and paddlefish come from the Department of Conservation’s Lost Valley Hatchery near Warsaw, on the east side of the Lake. Stoner explains, “When the Truman Dam was built in the late 1970s, it cut off the historical spawning areas for those fish, so we supply them from the hatchery.” It’s the largest warm-water, state-owned hatchery in Missouri and one of the 10 largest in the nation. Its fascinating Visitors Center features a 12,700-gallon aquarium, a viewing area into the hatchery production room and exhibits about Missouri marine life.
The MDC also releases two “bonus fish” into the Lake of the Ozarks: hybrid stripe bass every other year and pure striped bass every fifth year. “The pure striped bass is a saltwater fish that can survive in fresh water,” Stoner says. “We started stocking them because they can get very big and they’re super predators that can consume the bigger shad that grow in the Lake.”
If you want to just cut to the chase, call on one of the numerous independent fishing guides who operate at the Lake. These professional anglers will take one to three people directly to the hot spots, and also include lunch, tackle and bait.
The Lake’s state parks also attract anglers year-round. You can launch your own boat from the ramps at Lake of the Ozarks State Park near Osage Beach, or fish from a dock with crappie beds. Ha Ha Tonka State Park near Camdenton has two boat docks and allows fishing from marked access points (but not in Ha Ha Tonka Spring). In addition, numerous bait shops and full-service marinas are located throughout the Lake area.
A Missouri fishing license is required for all persons except Missouri residents over age 65 and under age 16. A season fishing license costs $12 for residents, $40 for non-residents. Daily and possession limits apply.
And when the fishing day is done, there’s still a lot to do at the Lake of the Ozarks. Enjoy outstanding restaurants, entertainment, shopping, family-friendly attractions and much more. Remember, whether you’re fishing for fun or food, get “reel” about fishing at the Lake of the Ozarks. For more information call the Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitor Bureau at 800-FUN-LAKE (386-5253) or visit www.funlake.com.
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