Lake of the Ozarks’ Hot Bass Fishing
By John Neporadny Jr.
Spring provides some of the hottest bass fishing action of the year and probably the best chance for catching that once-in-a-lifetime lunker at Lake of the Ozarks. The action heats up first in the tributary sections of the lake such as the Gravois, Grand Glaize and Niangua arms and then spreads throughout the rest of the lake as the spring weather continues to warm and the hours of daylight increase.
My home lake always has a good population of largemouth bass because it consistently has stable water levels in the spring which insures good reproduction every year.
Electroshocking sampling by MDC Fisheries Biologist Greg Stoner indicated that his catch rate per hour of legal-size bass (15 inches or longer) has remained about the same for the last five years. The MDC relies on a metric known as RSD15 which is the percentage of legal size largemouth sampled during electroshocking. During a recent spring electroshocking on the Grand Glaize arm the RSD15 for largemouth bass was 20 percent. “One out of five fish is good,” Stoner said. “There were fair numbers of 4- and 5-pounders (in the sampling) and fewer 6-pounders and a 7-pounder every once in a while but nothing over that. We are never going to produce loads of 7- and 8-pound fish.”
March is a prime time for catching heavyweight prespawn bass moving out of their winter sanctuaries to the spawning banks. Alabama rigs, suspending stickbaits and slow-rolling spinnerbaits are the best choices for catching these fish along chunk rock transition banks.
Running a Storm Lures Wiggle Wart in a crawfish hue along pea gravel banks in the coves is one of the most effective ways to catch Lake of the Ozarks bass in early April. Twitching soft plastic jerkbaits in the shallow pockets and dragging Carolina-rigged plastic lizards along the sides and in front of boat docks also tricks bass during the late stages of the prespawn.
The spawn traditionally starts in mid-April and lasts until the first week of May. Sure signs of the bass spawn at Lake of the Ozarks are a full moon and dogwood trees blooming. During the spawn try a variety of soft plastics including lizards, tubes, finesse worms, craws, stickworms and jerkbaits in green pumpkin or watermelon hues in the clear water or black, blue and dark red colors in murky water.
The moon phase is also a key to determining when bass are spawning on the lake. Some of the biggest bass in the Lake of the Ozarks might spawn on a full moon in March but most bass throughout the lake will spawn around the full moons in April or May if the water temperature is right (usually in the mid-60s to low 70s). The increasing hours of daylight in the spring also triggers bass into nesting.
Many sources such as calendars and solunar charts in fishing magazines show the moon phase for each month. Weather apps for mobile phones are another good source for finding the moon phases.
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.
Copies of John Neporadny’s book, “THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Guide” are
available by calling 573/365-4296 or visiting the web site www.jnoutdoors.com.