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John Neporadny Jr.

Lake of the Ozarks is premier bass destination

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Lake of the Ozarks showcases its superb bass fishing each year during national, regional and local bass tournaments.

While he had not been on the Lake of the Ozarks for more than a decade, Bassmaster Elite Series pro Mike McClelland said he was reminded of how much fun it was to fish there when he recently competed in the Missouri Invitational Fishing and Golf Championship at the lake.  The Buena Vista, Ark., pro honed his skills fishing tournaments at Ozark highland reservoirs, including Lake of the Ozarks.

The northernmost reservoir in the Ozark foothills has some similarities and differences in comparison to the other Ozark highland lakes McClelland has fished.  “The biggest thing that makes Lake of the Ozarks such an incredible fishery is all of the boat docks on the lake (similar to Oklahoma’s Grand Lake)” McClelland said. “So many of the fish are protected from angling most of the year because of all the cover boat docks allow them to have.”

“The lake is also extremely fertile and has a huge concentration of shad,” he said.  “It just has a huge forage base including bluegill and crappie that is absolutely phenomenal. I really believe that more bass forage on crappie than we can ever imagine.”

The Lake of the Ozarks features the same defined creek channels and turns as the rest of the Ozark highland reservoirs.  “As an Ozark angler the one thing you really learn to rely on are fishing those channel turns and figuring out what part of the channel turns the fish are in,” McClelland said. “There are some days when bass are going to be on the very ends of those and there are times of the year when they are going to be in the middle of them. Once you figure out where the fish are set up in those channel bends in the major creek arms it can really be an easy way to duplicate the pattern throughout the course of the lake.”

McClelland believes the major difference between Lake of the Ozarks and its Ozark highland neighbors is the lake’s productivity throughout its 54,000 acres. “What really amazes me about Lake of the Ozarks is the consistency of the lake from end to end,” he said. “The versatility the lake has to offer is unbelievable.”

Any time he competed on the Lake of the Ozarks McClelland thought the tournament could be won in any section of the lake.  “I really believed the lake could potentially produce a winning stringer nearly from (Bagnell) dam as far up the (Osage) river as you can go at any given time,” he said. “Whereas (the Ozarks lakes of) Table Rock, Bull Shoals and Beaver really fish sketchier and there are times when certain sections of those lakes are working and the rest of those lakes don’t seem to be on.”

During March and early April most of the Lake of the Ozarks bass will be in the prespawn stage. McClelland recommends tournament competitors key on the black rocks Ozark anglers call “lava” rock. “Any of those areas where you have that dark-colored rock close to gravel transition areas are really key focus points for me that time of the year,” McClelland said.  “I think the heat from those dark-colored rocks pulls up those fish especially when they are getting closer to that spawning period. “

McClelland’s favorite lures to throw for prespawn Lake of the Ozark bass in clear to stained water are Spro McStick 110 and 115 stickbaits and Spro RkCrawler crankbaits.   “If the water gets really dirty, Lake of the Ozarks is a good spinnerbait lake in the spring,” McClelland said.

For information on lodging and other facilities at the Lake of the Ozarks or to receive a free vacation guide, call the Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-FUN-LAKE or visit the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitors Bureau web site at funlake.com.  

For copies of John Neporadny’s THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Guide call 573/365-4296 or visit www.jnoutdoors.com.

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Funny, I was up there for the first time 2 years ago and all of the locals seemed to be pushing Crappie.  I could not find a bass lure that I was looking for.

But I fished it, and I caught a crappie on a bass lure.  The pros must have known something.

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5 hours ago, jdmidwest said:

Funny, I was up there for the first time 2 years ago and all of the locals seemed to be pushing Crappie.  I could not find a bass lure that I was looking for.

But I fished it, and I caught a crappie on a bass lure.  The pros must have known something.

We don't have any good tackle shops around lake O anymore.  There are 2 in Osage Beach that are decently stocked, but have you ever walked into a business where the people working it acted as if you coming in there interrupted whatever they were about to do.....and they just want you to hurry up and leave so they can get back to it ?

That's the vibe in both of them. 

 

Reminds me of a Honda motorcycle shop in Gainesville Georgia that I walked into once with a pocketful of cash looking to immediately buy a XR250R dirt bike.    They had 2.....but wouldn't sell me one.  It was freakin' odd/awkward as hell.  I later found out (after the MLK birthday riot in Atlanta) that the Honda shop was a front for the klan.   Ahhh, now I get it! 🤔

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7 hours ago, fishinwrench said:

We don't have any good tackle shops around lake O anymore.  There are 2 in Osage Beach that are decently stocked, but have you ever walked into a business where the people working it acted as if you coming in there interrupted whatever they were about to do.....and they just want you to hurry up and leave so they can get back to it ?

There is a place I won't mention but does the same thing.  The worst customer service I have ever seen.  It's even mentioned in their google reviews.  I felt horrible giving them some business.

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33 minutes ago, snagged in outlet 3 said:

There is a place I won't mention but does the same thing.  The worst customer service I have ever seen.  It's even mentioned in their google reviews.  I felt horrible giving them some business.

I always go to Fitz's since it's close to where I fish. Never had any issues there, but granted I've only been in 15-20 times. I honestly don't know anywhere else that's worth a darn near the dam area. I always wonder why tackle shop owners like to act like d***s. It's to their detriment. 

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1 hour ago, Ryan Miloshewski said:

I always go to Fitz's since it's close to where I fish. Never had any issues there, but granted I've only been in 15-20 times. I honestly don't know anywhere else that's worth a darn near the dam area. I always wonder why tackle shop owners like to act like d***s. It's to their detriment. 

Speaking of Dick's..... that's where I go first.  I don't need any assistance, I know what I'm there to get, and if they don't have it then I order it online.   

I'd support a family business type tackle shop if I felt that stopping in there was appreciated.  At least the cuties at Dick's say Hello when you walk in, and are friendly during checkout. And you don't have somebody silently eyeballing you from across the store to make sure you aren't stealing anything.🙄

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1 hour ago, fishinwrench said:

Speaking of Dick's

The last time I ordered online and ended up returning the item they gave me a 15% off in store coupon only good for 2 hours.  I bought the shoes online, they didn't fit, returned them and got the right size in the store with 15% off!!!:)

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