Springtime Bass

Two anglers display bass caught on the Lake of the Ozarks in a spring 2014 fishing tournament.

LAKE OF THE OZARKS, Mo. — Fishing tournaments are in full swing, with several simultaneous tournaments at the Lake this weekend, but local pro Jim Dill says recent rains and temperature fluctuations mean the fish aren’t quite as sanguine.

There may be a few early spawners, Dill says, but the vast majority of bass are staging in spawn areas, still shifting based on rapidly changing water levels and temperatures.

Anglers will likely find fish near common spawn areas: pea gravel pockets, shallow flats, and the like. But chilly nights and warm rains have created an instability that is keeping the fish at bay, for now. Within a couple weeks, Dill predicts, the water will be a bit warmer—remaining always above 55 degrees—and the fish will be ready to spawn. The moon phase affects that, too: Dill says fish prefer to spawn under a full moon.

With the past week’s heavy rain, the lake level has risen a bit, but Ameren responds by letting water through the dam. As a result, during the spring stormy season, the lake level will regularly rise and fall by several inches; Dill says that makes fish wary. Or, he puts it plainly, “They know somethin’ ain’t right!”

That doesn’t mean an angler can’t have success; it just means the success will be a bit easier in a couple of weeks. For now, Dill says most lures will work fairly well, though he recommends not using a buzz bait for another week or two. The best bite, he says, has been on crank baits and wiggle warts. Spinner bats, jigs, and suspended stick baits are also working well.

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