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.
Regardless of whether or not you have a boat, I suggest you spend some time on the lake with a guide if at all possible. A guide will be able to give you a basic orientation of the lake and help you figure out what the fish are doing at the time you’re there so you can maximize your fishing experience. You can find a list of recommended guides on bassingbob.com
If you do plan on taking out your boat the most important thing I can stress is safety. A lot of people have heard daunting stories about going out on the lake in the summer with a fishing boat when the big boat traffic creates big waves, and it can be a nerve-wracking experience if you’re caught unprepared. However, knowing just a few things about Lake of the Ozarks and the patterns of boat traffic can help you avoid the busy times and waterways. Here are some tips that will help you have a fun, safe, and successful fishing trip even during the busiest Lake of the Ozarks summers!
- If you don’t want to worry about where you are on the lake and what time you’re out, plan your fishing trips during the week. It is surprisingly calm on weekdays compared to the weekends.
- If you choose to go out on the lake during the summer weekends or holidays, one option is to hit the lake between dawn and 10am, or in the evenings after 5 PM or so. The good news is that this is the best time to catch bass anyway, especially during the summer.
- You can stay in your cove to fish, provided you have boat access from the place you are staying. While coves still get some waves, the waves won’t be as big as they would be on the main channel. If the cove is big enough, it will have enough docks, shoreline, and cover to make for a good fishing experience.
Fishing from the Dock
Lake of the Ozarks is unlike most other reservoirs around the country in that the vast majority of the shoreline is privately owned and developed. Because of this, you will find over 25,000 boat docks jutting out from the shore. These docks offer a perfect fishing platform this time of year, as most fish will congregate under the shade of the docks to protect them from the summer sun. So if you plan to fish while you’re on vacation but you don’t have a fishing boat, try to stay in a condo complex or hotel that offers fishable docks. These big multi-boat community docks are actually great places to catch fish since they have a lot of underwater cables and added shade for the fish to relate to. Robins Resort is a great place to stay if you would like to fish from the dock. They offer a heated dock and plant fish attractors around their docks to make the fishing better for their guests. You can fish anywhere on the property if you’re a guest staying at the resort, and for just $5 per day if you’re not a guest at the resort. While there are many different species that you can catch when fishing from the dock, the most popular fish to go for are catfish, bluegill, and crappie. The techniques used to catch these fish do not require you move around a whole lot, making them ideal for catching from the dock. For beginners, I recommend going for bluegill. They will be the easiest to catch, and you can find a large number of them around every dock on the lake.
Fishing from the shore
Though most of the lakeshore is privately owned, you can still find plenty of opportunities to fish from the bank. A great place to fish from the shore is the tail waters below Bagnell Dam. The turbines from the Dam add oxygen to the water creating ideal conditions for aquatic life. This stretch of river is one of the best fishing holes in the state, and is best known for harboring giant catfish. It is not uncommon to see 60-80lb cats caught there in the summertime.
If fishing on the actual lake is more of what you had in mind, the Lake of the Ozarks is home to the largest state park in Missouri. Here you can find 85 miles of undeveloped shoreline that leaves you plenty of room to fish from the bank, as well as enjoy other outdoor activities. Public Beach #2 would be a good place to start since it has plenty of trials and picnic areas leading to the lake.
I would again like to stress that going out with a guide is the best way to maximize your fishing experience. However, if you find yourself with questions and do not think a guide is the right route for you, make sure to check out bassingbob.com. On this website you will find all the information you need to have a fun and memorable time out fishing on the Lake of the Ozarks.