LAKE OF THE OZARKS, MO — Many things have changed at Central Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks in the 90-plus years since the Lake’s creation. Numerous businesses, resorts, restaurants and lavish homes have built up along the shoreline in the following decades as the Lake’s population and popularity continues to grow. However, one thing that has not changed with time is the incredible fishing found at the Lake of the Ozarks, both then and now.
Known as one of the best fisheries in the country, thousands of anglers return to the Lake of the Ozarks time and time again to fill their stringers and/or catch and release some photo-worthy fish. And, it’s no mystery why: with 1,150 miles of shoreline providing diverse habitat and abundant food sources, the Lake of the Ozarks is home to healthy populations of a variety of freshwater species. Anglers at the Lake can target largemouth and spotted bass; white bass; black and white crappie; hybrid white bass/stripers; bluegill; walleye; and channel, flathead and blue catfish, as well as paddlefish. However, it’s generally the bass and the crappie that steal the show.
John Neporadny, a longtime Lake of the Ozarks resident and a member of the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, believes the Lake lives up to its billing as one of the best fisheries in the nation. “I’ve had the opportunity to fish many of the best rivers, natural lakes and reservoirs throughout the country and on many occasions I’ve discovered there is no place like home,” Neporadny says.
This former fishing guide and author of 101 Bass Fishing Tips and THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Guide books continues, “Missouri has many fine fisheries, but I would have to rate Lake of the Ozarks as the best reservoir in the state for catching a variety of game fish. I believe that day in and day out, Lake of the Ozarks gives anglers an equal opportunity to catch bass, crappie, white bass or catfish.”
Indeed, the Lake of the Ozarks’ reputation for producing big fish sees hundreds of fishing tournaments per year take place at the Lake, from smaller amateur tournaments to big-time professional circuit tournaments. Arguably, the most popular fishing tournaments at the Lake are the semi-annual Big Bass Bash tournaments, which take place each spring and fall and offer a whopping payout of $100,000 to the angler that catches the biggest bass.
Those looking for a more leisurely fishing experience will find there are many opportunities to drop a line around the Lake. Whether fishing in a boat or kayak, or fishing from the shore or a dock, chances are you’re in for a lot of fish-fighting fun.
There are a lot of local resources available that provide current information on the best fishing locations, patterns, bait and more. A great online resource is www.BassingBob.com, where you can get current reports on water conditions and tips from local pros. In print, there’s the Lake of the Ozarks Fishing News, available for free at most bait shops and grocery stores around the Lake area.
For any first-timers to the Lake of the Ozarks — whether it’s someone’s first ever attempt at fishing or their first time fishing at the Lake — the surest strategy for success is to get hooked up with one of the Lake’s professional fishing guides. The local pros know the water better than anyone and have all the equipment and knowledge to make for a memorable day (or days) out on the water. The Lake of the Ozarks’ guides are a great resource and they are eager to show off the highlights of their home waters. With a guide, beginners can learn the basics: how to properly cast, what habitat the fish like and what type of baits work best for each species and during which time of year. They’ll also pick up many simple tips on easily overlooked essentials that will help them catch more fish and have more fun. Most guides have set rates for either a half-day (four hours) or a full-day (eight hours) fishing trip, but special arrangements can be made ahead of time for a customized trip.
Regardless of an angler’s skill level, they will find the Lake of the Ozarks an accommodating fishing destination as many of the resorts around the area provide fishing docks, boat ramps, submerged crappie beds and cleaning stations located on-site. And, the variety of lodging options is nearly as varied as the species of fish in the water. Visitors can choose from full-service luxury resorts, family-owned resorts, charming bed and breakfasts, rustic cabins, campgrounds and RV parks, spacious vacation rental homes and condominiums, as well as hotels and motels.
Whether fishing with buddies or family, time spent off the water can be as enjoyable as the time spent fishing. The nation’s “Best Recreational Lake” and “Best Lake for Water Sports” has activities and events for every age and interest. To learn more about these, plus dining and accommodation options, call the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitor Bureau (CVB) at 1-800-FUN-LAKE, or visit the CVB’s award-winning website at www.FunLake.com.
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