Lake of the Ozarks, located in the southwestern part of Missouri, is a man-made reservoir created by the construction of Bagnell Dam on the Osage River. Bagnell dam was completed in April of 1931 and the lake quickly became a popular destination for boating, fishing, and all types of water-related activities. Tourists, anglers, and boating enthusiasts flock to the lake year round due to its unique structure, size, and amenities. The lake surface area exceeds 54,000 acres and its main channel exceeds 92 miles. In addition, it has numerous arms, coves, and inlets making it one of the largest man made lakes in the nation. Interestingly, Lake of the Ozarks has more shoreline than the state of California at 1150 miles!
Lake of the Ozarks contains a variety of fish species and attracts thousands of anglers from across the country. Many experts consider Lake of the Ozarks one of the top ten largemouth bass, Crappie, and Catfish fisheries in the nation. Because of its tremendous fishery, Lake of the Ozarks hosts hundreds of local, regional, and national Bass, Crappie, and Catfish tournaments annually.
One of the most popular game fish species in the Lake of the Ozarks is the Largemouth Bass. Largemouth Bass can grow over two feet in length and record fish weigh more than 20 pounds. While Lake of the Ozarks Largemouth Bass don’t reach this size (as far as we know), there have been Largemouth Bass caught and released in the lake that exceeded 10 pounds. The lake also has a decent Kentucky Bass (aka Spotted Bass) population. These fish do not grow as big as the Largemouth Bass, however they're scrappy fighters and important residents of the fishery. The best time to catch (and hopefully release) heavy Largemouth Bass is spring time when female fish are full of eggs and spawning. Largemouth Bass can be caught year-round using a variety of techniques, baits, lures, and tactics including plastic worms, creature baits, jigs, spinnerbaits, top water lures, crankbaits, and a host of other offerings.
Another very popular Lake of the Ozarks game fish species is the Crappie. People come to Lake of the Ozarks from across the nation to pursue this species due to their abundance and quality. White and Black Crappie that reside in Lake of the Ozarks reach up to 18 inches of length and weigh up to 4 pounds. (Although very few reach this size) The longest White Crappie caught on Barber Fishing Guide Service charters to date was 17.5 inches, and appeared to be in late life decline. The heaviest Crappie I'm aware of caught in Lake of the Ozarks weighed 3.74 pounds. The average White and Black Crappie caught in Lake of the Ozarks will be 9-12 inches and weigh up to one pound. Crappie exceeding 13 inches are frequently caught. Crappie exceeding 15 inches and weighing more than 2 pounds are somewhat rare in Lake of the Ozarks but they do exist. Crappie fishing at Lake of the Ozarks can be successful all year once an angler learns where and how to catch them. The best seasons to catch a lot of Crappie are spring (during the spawn) and winter when the Black Crappie school in large numbers. The daily Crappie creel limit on Lake of the Ozraks is 15 fish, 9 inches or longer. Though most anglers eat their catch, "catch and release" fishing also occurs with this species. Electronic technology known as "forward imaging" has become a main stay of successful Crappie anglers. Successful anglers use a variety of techniques to catch Crappie including simple minnow rigs with hooks and/or corks, small lead jig heads paired with plastic or marabou jig bodies, small spoons, crankbaits, and other offerings. In addition to being fun to catch, Crappie are excellent table fare.
Catfish are very abundant in the Lake of the Ozarks. There are 3 primary species of catfish in Lake of the Ozarks; Blue Catfish, Channel Catfish, and Flathead Catfish. Blue Catfish can reach or exceed weights exceeding 100 pounds in Lake of the Ozarks though fish of this size are quite rare. The average blue catfish on the lower end of Lake of the Ozarks will weigh between 3 and 15 pounds. It’s fairly common to catch Blue Catfish in excess of 20 pounds on Lake of the Ozarks but really big fish (over 50 pounds) don’t get caught very often. Many anglers favor the taste of Blue Catfish over other species and they are indeed excellent table fare. The daily Lake of the Ozarks limit of Blue Catfish is 10, with no more than 2 of your creel exceeding 34 inches. Lake of the Ozarks has a protected “slot limit” size of 26-34 inches and these fish must be returned to the water unharmed immediately after being caught. The slot limit was put in place by the MO Department of Conservation to assure the lake maintains a healthy population of breeding fish. Blue catfish are typically caught on cut gizzard shad (the most common bait forage in Lake of the Ozarks) or shrimp, bluegill, and other large natural baits. Lake of the Ozarks also has a very healthy population of channel catfish. Channel Catfish in Lake of the Ozarks don’t often exceed 5 pounds but there have been channel catfish caught exceeding this weight in Lake of the Ozarks. Most anglers prefer to catch and eat Blue Catfish vs. Channel Catfish however many also eat Channel Catfish. Anglers have success catching channel catfish using the same baits listed above and also use hot dogs, chicken livers, and various types of commercially available stink baits. Lake of the Ozarks also has a decent population of Flathead Catfish. Flathead catfish prefer live bait and most are caught on bank poles, trot lines, and dock lines using live bluegill. The best time to catch catfish is before and after the spawn which occurs in the summer when the water temperature reaches 66 degrees, usually in the month of June at Lake of the Ozarks. During the spawn, catfish are typically more difficult to catch as opposed to other species which are on the banks and easier to catch.
When Lake of the Ozarks was formed by the creation of Bagnell Dam, a native population of Walleye already existed in the Osage River. Though resident Walleye in Lake of the Ozarks likely spawn each year, a small number of Walleye are also stocked every 2 years by the MO Department of Conservation. Having fished Lake of the Ozarks for decades and caught only 20-30 Walleye, it’s fair to say Lake of the Ozarks doesn’t have a significant Walleye population. Anglers who target them usually focus on deep water as they typically spend most of their time at depths where the water is cooler. Walleye can grow to 36 inches in Lake Ozark (largest one I’ve personally caught) long and weigh up to 10 pounds however most Walleye caught in Lake of the Ozarks will be 12-18 inches long. The best time to catch walleye in Lake of the Ozarks is in the spring and fall when the water temperature is cooler and they are feeding heavily in shallower water. Anglers use a variety of techniques to catch walleye, including trolling with crankbaits, live bait, and jigging with spoons or soft plastics.
In addition to these popular fish species, Lake of the Ozarks is also home to several other fish species, including bluegill, sunfish, carp, gar, white bass, hybrid bass, stripers, goggle eye, rock bass, and buffalo. Of these species, bluegill, white bass, hybrid bass, stripers, and sunfish are pursued for sport and table fare. The “rough fish” in Lake of the Ozark are infrequently pursued by bow fishing but gar, carp, and buffalo are not typically taken for table fare. White Bass, hybrid bass, and stripers are caught on jigs, spoons, crankbaits, and other offerings. Though the MO Department of Conservation stocks a few hybrid and striped bass in Lake of the Ozarks every 2 years, their population in Lake of the Ozarks is quite small. White Bass are abundant and reproduce annually in Lake of the Ozarks. In late summer and fall it’s quite common to see large schools of white bass attacking gizzard shad in “boils” on top of the water.
In conclusion, Lake of the Ozarks is a unique fishery and paradise for anglers, boaters, and tourists.
If you are looking for Lake of the Ozarks fishing guide services, please visit our website; https://www.barberfishingguideservice.com/
It is also recommended to read the FAQ section of our website at https://www.barberfishingguideservice.com/faq.html to learn more about our services.
The water level drop at Lake of the Ozarks has reached the winter Ameren guide curve of 654 feet above sea level. This occurs in February each year and usually adversely affects the fish bite for a few days. The bite has improved over the last few days and should continue to improve as the weather warms and the lake level stabilizes. We're catching Crappie on jigs, minnows, and using corks in a variety of locations as there are large schools of black crappie roaming around that remain grouped up in their winter pattern. We're also catching fish on brush piles. (Crappie and Bass) The best jig colors of late have been white, blue , chartreuse or some combination of those colors.
We're catching a lot of crappie right now as the fish are shallow and roaming in large schools. Jig fishing and cork and jig are great techniques to catch them. We locate the crappie using state of the art side and forward imaging so our customers know where to cast and present baits at the proper depth. Natural colors are producing best for our customers. Give us a call or fill out a contact form and we'll put you on the fish! Captain Chris
The Black Crappie typically school up all winter and spring, give us a call and teach you how and where to catch them..............
A strong bite is common in the months of May and June. Call us to schedule a charter and learn how to catch them. (314) 583 8174
the Lake Ozark Spawn is a great time to troll for crappie and jug for catfish. These guys learned new techniques with great success
The pre-spawn Crappie and Bass bite is typically good at Lake Ozark. These fellows learned how to successfully jig and cork fish.
Crappie fishing can be quite good year round at Lake Ozark when utilizing the right technique in the proper location.