Spring River Fishing at Lake of the Ozarks

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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 Bassingbob.com 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.

   

We first asked Dave what sets the river apart form other areas of the lake? “The one thing that makes the river easier to fish is that it is very aesthetically pleasing. You can see everything in front of you. The flats stick out better, the rock changes are very prominent, and it just lays out to where it is easier to fish.” We then asked Dave if there was a certain time when he liked to start fishing the river? “Well it has a lot to do with precipitation and how warm of weather we have leading into the spring. The key water temperature I look for that get the river fish fired up is around a consistent 42-45 degrees.” He emphasized that the consistent water temperature will be the temperature that your boat reads first thing in the morning, and not after the sun heats the water up late in the day. Dave also added “Whenever it starts happening up there, I am targeting rock changes: like from bluff to chunk rock, or chunk rock to pea gravel. Those places are typically where the river fish will stack up. But you also need to keep in mind that water level and current generation are both factors that affect how these fish will position themselves and when they will bite.”

In March of 2011, Dave used his river fishing expertise to earn him a FLW Everstart Series victory. Dave noted that steep rock transition banks were key to his victory, but an even bigger key was his Black Market 110 Jerkbait. “The Missouri Shad color is dangerous up that river. Out of the fifteen fish that I weighed in the three-day competition, thirteen of those fish came off of the Missouri Shad Black Market 110. It just looks natural like a shad to the fish, and that’s why it works so well.”  Some other early spring lures that Dave will use up the river is one of his custom painted Wiggle Wart bodies, and a 1/2oz Chompers Rattling Flipping Jig.

While Dave loves to fish the river in the earlier parts of spring, he also likes to fish it through the first few weeks of April as the water starts to warm up. “Once we start to get to the first week of April, those big fish will start to stage off of the bank. They will just sit there waiting to move into their spawning areas. The large Black Market Balsa Crankbait is by far the best big fish bait at this time. But it is not a typical fast crankbait retrieve like I would use in the summertime. I am not saying that I crank it slow by any means, but it is more of a medium/stop-and-go retrieve that seems to get the most bites at this time.” As far as colors go, Dave prefers bluegill or chartreuse based patterns like Diet Dew or Yellow Perch. “The fish have gotten off the shad, and the bluegill become an annoyance to the largemouth. So those colors really seem to shine at this time.” Dave mentioned that many of his big bites will come well off of the bank, so it is important to keep your retrieve at a medium pace as the lure gets closer to the boat.  

Dave concluded that the river area can be good through out the year, but it really shines in the spring and fall since it is the first to warm up and also the first to cool down. If there was ever a time when Dave would avoid the river area, it would be in the late winter when a lot of big fish are biting on the lower end of the lake. For more information about fishing the river area of the lake, make sure to check out bassingbob.com for more articles and videos about this foreign stretch of the lake.

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