Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Tips

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It's no secret, Lake of the Ozarks has some of the best fishing in the country. But what's the secret to catching them? Whether you enjoy fishing during the warm summer months or like to brave the cooler temperatures of the fall and winter, has you covered with some year round fishing tips to helps you land "The Big One" at Lake of the Ozarks.

Vacation Fishing Tips

For over 80 years, Lake of the Ozarks has been home to some of the best fishing in the country. This impressive impoundment of the Osage River was created by the construction of Bagnell Dam, which began on August 6, 1929. The Lake boasts 55,000 acres of water washing up on 1,150 miles of shoreline, and actually has more shoreline than the state of California! It winds through 93 miles of Ozark hills marked with bluffs, points, boat docks, and creeks. The Lake is home to a number of different fish species including: black and white crappie, bluegill, spoonbill, gizzard shad, channel catfish, flathead catfish, blue catfish, white bass, walleye, gar, hybrid striper, largemouth and spotted bass. As you can see, the aquatic diversity and sheer size of the lake makes fishing opportunities endless.

While many fishermen that come to the Lake of the Ozarks are tournament anglers that are serious about their bass fishing, the lake also offers the perfect opportunity for the recreational angler who wants a fun, memorable and relaxing time catching fish. You can take advantage of these opportunities either from boat, on the dock, or even from the bank. 

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Spring Fishing Tips

Spring Paddlefish Season
Each spring thousands of anglers travel to the Lake of the Ozarks in hopes of hooking into a pre-historic giant. The American paddlefish has been known to inhabit earth for over 300 million years, and can only be found in the lakes, rivers, and streams of the Mississippi river basin. While you can find paddlefish all throughout the Midwest, the Lake of the Ozarks and Osage River Basin is home to one of the largest paddlefish populations in the world. [Read more about Spring Paddlefishing at Central Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks]

Spring River Fishing
Here at the Lake of the Ozarks we are blessed to have such a large and diverse fishery. The Lake stretches 92 miles from end to end, and has several large tributary arms which all fish differently. One of the most underrated and secluded sections of this Lake is the 30+ mile long stretch of river leading up to Truman Dam. This area is vastly unalike every other portion of the lake. So decided to sit down with David Ryan, who is a tournament veteran with extensive knowledge and experience up the river, to get his thoughts on the secluded upper reaches of the lake. [Read more about Spring River Fishing at Lake of the Ozarks]

March Fishing
The month of March at Lake of the Ozarks is often one of wide variation in temperature and weather conditions. Anglers are just as likely to find themselves waiting impatiently for the ice to thaw as they are to be applying sunscreen on a warm spring day. The capricious nature of the month that straddles winter and spring makes for exciting fishing. Because of the rising daily temperatures and increased hours of sunlight this month, water temperatures begin to rise, starting the month generally in the mid to upper 30s and ending the month in the upper 40s and low 50s. 

April Fishing
Each year in April the Lake of the Ozarks’ shoreline springs to life, giving anglers an especially great view of the blooming redbuds, dogwoods and wildflowers that dot the landscape. The warming temperatures and increasing hours of daylight tempt fishermen to get back in their boats for another great season of fishing. Anglers look forward to April because the warmer days and water temperatures start to make all of the fish more active. However the two most popular species for this month are bass and crappie.

May Fishing
The Lake of the Ozarks really comes alive in May. Everywhere you look, you’ll see signs that things are shaping up for another summer of fun in the sun. Anglers take to the water to enjoy the excitement of fishing during the spawn. Vacation home owners come down to air out their houses and start up their boats in anticipation of time spent with family and friends. This is truly a great time to get out on the water.

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Summer Fishing Tips

June Fishing
The month of June on the Lake of the Ozarks is one of the best times of the year to catch large numbers of big bass. Since these fish have recently finished their annual spawning ritual, they are left beat up, skinny, and HUNGRY.  So at this time, the big fish leave their spawning pockets in search of food.  Therefore, in order to locate these big fish you must first locate the food.

July Fishing
As water temps begin to reach the mid to upper 80’s in early July, big fish start to slow down from their post spawn feeding pattern and become less aggressive. While catching numbers of bass seems to be a little more difficult than in June, the big fish bite still remains strong.  It is important to take into account the time of day when searching for the big ones. With the water being so hot, feeding activity will peak after dark so the night fishing really heats up right now. Night fishing is also a great way to avoid the boat traffic that really starts to pick up in July here on the Lake of the Ozarks. With surface water temps averaging in the mid to upper 80s most of the big fish will be found in deep water close to the thermocline where the water is cooler.

August Fishing
BASS - As we move into August we are faced with the “dog days” of summer. A common misconception is that during this time the fishing gets super tough. With heavy boat traffic and hot temperatures, fishing conditions may sometimes seem less than ideal. However, if you plan your trip out with these in mind, you can avoid both and catch a ton of big fish. During this month you can begin to catch fish in many different ways. The deep worm and night bite is still really good, but you can also catch fish out of the same brush piles during the day with a jig or a deep diving crankbait.  A lot of what the fish are doing this month is dependent on the weather conditions.

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Fall Fishing Tips

September Fishing
The month of September is marked by the fall transition. At this time, the water starts to cool down and bass begin to migrate from their summer haunts to feed. The shallow water in the backs of creeks and coves starts to cool down first, which triggers a massive migration of gizzard shad into these areas. Wayne Fitzpatrick, who is the owner of Fitz Fishing in Osage Beach, has had a lot of success fishing in September. Wayne emphasized that during this month the river portion of the lake turns on fire, but you can also catch fish throughout the lake.

October Fishing
October is one of the most beautiful times of the year at Lake of the Ozarks as the autumn leaves peak in color around the 3rd and 4th weeks of the month. The scenery combined with the generally pleasant daytime temperatures make it a great time to head out for a fishing trip before the weather turns cold. During this month you will find bass in their usual fall pattern. Unlike September when most fish are found in the backs of the creeks, fish in October will be scattered throughout the lake with no predominant location. At this time you may notice that the forage fish (shad) will also spread out and can be found just about everywhere.

November Fishing
November days can be sunny and mild with temperatures in the 70s, or cold, rainy and windy with temperatures in the 30s. It may be getting cold outside but the fishing is just heating up in the Ozarks as winter approaches. Most people are in their deer blinds or bundled up inside watching football, which are both great. But man it is hard to beat the bass fishing right now on the Lake of the Ozarks! November is the time of year when I feel you get true fall fishing. The lake turnover is usually complete by this time and a lot of lures will catch fish.

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Winter Fishing Tips

Crankbait 101
A crankbait is one of the most effective tools for locating and catching active fish, especially here in the Ozarks. But with the wide variety of different crank baits on the market today, it can often be confusing as to which one you should use at certain times. While there are many variables that go into selecting the right crankbait for any given day, one of the most important features to take note of is the action. Selecting the crankbait with the right amount of wobble can be the difference between catching 20lbs or going home with a zero. [Read more about crankbait fishing]

Jerkbaits in the Winter at Lake Of the Ozarks
Fishing Lake of the Ozarks means one thing—jerkbaits. Jerkbaits, which are also referred to as stickbaits by some people, are long, slender treble-hooked baits that are lethal to bass even in the coldest months of the year. Everyone uses jerkbaits in the wintertime and, as the name implies, you jerk, wait a second, jerk, wait a second, jerk, wait 15 seconds, and repeat. Change up your cadence to match the mood of the fish. The colder the water the slower you work the bait. Several guys will wait up to a minute in between jerks, but I've never been one to work a jerkbait that slowly. [Read more about winter jerkbait fishing at Lake of the Ozarks]

Talking Winter Bass Fishing with Legend Vern Jaycox
Forty-one years ago local legend Vern Jaycox took to the waters known as Lake of the Ozarks (LOZ). Over time Jaycox became a very successful tournament fisherman as well as a master with jerkbait. Recently we had a chance to chat about winter fishing patterns, conditions, baits and the season overall. He offered his expertise in what has worked with the winter patterns for him over the years and how he came to choose his methods. [Read more about Winter Bass Fishing at Lake of the Ozarks]

As the year comes to an end and the last two months of fall come and go, anglers will see big changes in the water temperatures and weather conditions at Lake of the Ozarks. At the beginning of December you can still catch shallow fish in their late fall pattern. A few popular baits for this late fall bite are a spinnerbait and a finesse jig. Around the middle of December, you’ll start to see fish move out to their winter habitat. At this time many anglers will start to slow down their presentations. While you can still find fish shallow, many of them will begin to relate to points and channel banks with deep-water access close by. As water temperatures drop into the mid to low 40s the suspending jerkbait bite starts to fire up. When fishing a suspending jerkbait it is vital to pay attention to how fast you are working the bait. A general rule of thumb is the colder the water the longer you need to pause between jerks. Often times the difference between getting no bites and catching a limit is the difference of letting the bait set for 20 seconds between jerks. If you let the cold temperature keep you off of the water in December, then you may be missing out on some of the best wintertime bass fishing in the country. So make sure to bundle up, grab the thermos, and go to to find out how to have one of the best days of fishing you have had all year on the Lake of the Ozarks!

January & February
If you let the cold temperatures keep you away from the Lake of the Ozarks this winter, then you may be missing out on some of the best winter fishing in the country. While most people think that water temperatures in January and February are too frigid to catch fish, it is actually one of the best times of the year to catch numbers of fish, as well as the biggest fish in the lake. During these months you can find water temperatures averaging between the mid- to upper 30s and the low to mid-40s.

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