Sizzling summertime temperatures are no excuse to stay inside lounging under the AC. In fact, it is the perfect time to enjoy some rod-bending, sizzling-hot bass fishing action at Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks.
The entire 1,500 mile shoreline of LOZ, as it is called by in-the-know bass anglers, is the longest in the state. Every inch is bass producing real estate. And to add ice cream to the pie, LOZ sports an earned reputation as a big bass lake. Tournament anglers don’t expect to get into the money at weigh-in unless they have a few six-to-seven pounders in their livewells.
Greg Stoner is the fisheries management biologist at the lake and expects another good year of fishing.
“The largemouth bass samples we do on the lake don’t change much from year to year,” he said. “Water quality is good at the lake, a basic necessity for fish to thrive. Habitat is plentiful and of high quality as well. Artificial structures like docks, mooring cables and metal beams last for a very long time. Too, LOZ consistently produces an excellent shad spawn every year.
“I catch bass in the parts of the lake I know best,” Stoner said. “Anglers simply need to take the time to locate brushpiles and other structure, deep- water points and humps, channel swings and bluffs in the part of the lake they prefer. There are bass in all parts of the lake.”
Every fisherman you talk to has his preferences for the lake arm he likes best. But for first-time fishermen coming to the lake, longtime LOZ bass fisherman Rick Carroll suggests putting in at Public Beach No. 2 at Lake of the Ozarks State Park, on the Grand Glaize arm.
“Lots of tournaments run out of PB No. 2,” he said. “The weigh-ins are held there, too. All those fish caught during a tournament are released nearby. It takes several days for them to disperse.”
Wayne Clemons, a 60-year-old bass fishing guide from Climax Springs, has fished LOZ for most of his life.
“My first remembrance of fishing the lake was in 1958” he said.
“In the summertime, I fish the deep brushpiles, 20-to-40-feet deep,” Clemons began. “The thermocline runs deeper here than at most lakes. Fishermen often miss the best summertime bass fishing at the lake, because they expect to always catch fish on the top or bottom. Many fail to look for bass in the middle of the water column. That’s where the deepwater brushpiles come in. Bass often bury into them or suspend over them.”
“Bass can be caught on the deep brushpiles all day long,” Clemons said. “However, the best bite usually occurs during the first two hours of daylight, early in the morning.”
Clemons is partial to a 10-inch Berkley Powerbait blue fleck worm Texas rigged on a 4/0 or 5/0 offset worm hook.
“I prefer to use a 5/16-oz. weight. I can crawl the worm through the brushpiles much easier with the lighter weight,” he said.
“My back-up spots include main lake points,” Clemons said. “Again, I fish deep off of these points. Almost exclusively, I use custom-made jigs from Hawg Hunter Guide Service here at the lake.”
Clemons offered a few pointers to anglers planning a trip to the lake. “Hire a guide,” he said unabashedly. “We know the lake and we know how to catch fish. If a person wants to go on their own, they should contact the nearest Missouri Department of Conservation office and get a map of the lake. The brushpiles are marked and GPS coordinates are listed.”
LOZ can be crowded on summer weekends. To avoid the pleasure boaters, try fishing during the week or at night. The big worms will still work after sundown, but you might want to try Table Rock Tackle’s Chompers twin-tail grub with garlic sent as well. And if topwater action is your game, toss a big Zara Spook around the boat docks. Hang on, because your line is going to SIZZLE!
Editor’s Note: Bill Cooper is 32-year veteran UPS driver and a member of Teamsters Local 688.