Pro-Am Tournament

Lake of the Ozarks-area pro angler Marcus Sykora placed a cast during the Missouri Invitational at Lake of the Ozarks. Sykora and his amateur partner, Sam Billmeyer of Ankeny, Iowa, came in third place with 41.41 pounds of fish caught.

The Missouri Department of Conservation's annual study of fishing conditions at Lake of the Ozarks has a few predictions about the state of fishing the Lake in 2020, and anglers will be happy to hear it.

Overall, the MDC expects largemouth bass and crappie fishing will be good-to-excellent, and strong results for catfishing too. Kentucky and white bass fishing will be only "average," the MDC predicts, and though walleye catches are on the rise, MDC says anglers typically land them by mistake, at this point. Walleye are stocked in Lake of the Ozarks every year, and have been since the 1990s.

MDC's assessment is below:

Largemouth bass

Electrofishing surveys conducted during the spring of 2019 indicated that the percentage of the population equal to or greater than the 15-inch size limit was 17 percent on the Glaize arm. The outlook for spotted (Kentucky) bass over the 12-inch size limit is average. Although bass can be caught year-round, the best times are spring and fall, especially around points, brush piles, and docks. The best producing lures are topwater baits (low light periods), plastic worms, jigs, crankbaits, and spinnerbaits. Winter is also an excellent time to fish for bass by slowly fishing jerkbaits off points or pea gravel banks.

Crappie

During the fall of 2019, approximately 63 percent of the white crappie and 52 percent of the black crappie on the Glaize arm were equal to or greater than the 9-inch minimum length limit. This should produce excellent fishing in 2020. Concentrate on brush piles, especially those located on or near points. The ability to locate good structure is the key to successful crappie fishing on Lake of the Ozarks. Visit: http://short.mdc.mo.gov/Z4u for information about brush piles that have been placed in the lake by MDC staff. Small jigs (1/32 to 1/8 ounce) and minnows are the best baits.

Catfish

Catfish action in 2020 should be similar to the past few years. The best months are April through September for channel catfish. Blue catfish remain active later into the fall and can be caught year-round. Drifting and fishing live or cut shad on days with a light breeze consistently produces the best catches. Blue catfish have a tendency to inhabit open water, so fishing some distance from the shoreline with your bait several feet off the bottom may increase your odds. The mouths of coves, deep flats, and river channel breaks are prime areas. Note that a protected slot limit pertaining to blue catfish went into effect in 2014. All blue catfish from 26 inches to 34 inches must be immediately returned to the water. If you are after channel catfish, try to keep your bait on or near the bottom, and fish relatively close to the shoreline. To catch flathead catfish, use live bait such as a small bluegill or green sunfish instead of cut bait and fish near large boulders or woody cover.

White & hybrid striped bass

White bass fishing should be average. Fish windy points, submerged islands and long, sloping points using either artificial lures or shad. Opportunities for catching hybrid striped bass are good in the Truman Dam tailwater and, during the summer and winter months, in spring-fed areas of the lake.

Walleye & more

Walleye have been consistently stocked in Lake of the Ozarks since the mid-1990's. Although most walleye are caught incidentally by anglers targeting other species, anglers fishing specifically for walleye are becoming increasingly successful. Walleye are typically caught by trolling crankbaits on steep rocky points and humps. Jigs tipped with either minnows, nightcrawlers, or a twister tail grub, fished on or near the bottom, is another productive technique. Unlike bass, walleye tend to prefer bright colored jigs and dressings such as orange, white, and chartreuse. The lake also offers good fishing for a number of other species including paddlefish, sunfish, gar, and common carp. Remember to use proper handling techniques when releasing fish back to the water to ensure their survival.

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