Best Places to Fish in Missouri: Lake of the Ozarks

Fish in Missouri

Lake of the Ozarks is Famous for Dock Pattern Fishing

Located in a section of the Ozark Fisheries in Camden County, Missouri, Lake of the Ozarks is one of the Midwest’s oldest and most productive fisheries in the Show-Me State. It has gained a well-earned reputation as a bass factory that routinely plays host to national, regional and local bass fishing tournaments. Interestingly, it is also recognized as one of the most developed lakes in the nation.

bass fish ozark 2Many local fishermen confine much of their fishing to the early morning and late evening hours, Monday through Thursday. If they fish on weekends, it is before 8AM and after 8PM, when recreational boat traffic is lightest. But, as a practical matter, those are also the best fishing times, so boaters and fishermen co-exist well despite the fact that the lake draws nearly 3 million visitors a year.

In addition to fishing, Lake of the Ozarks offers a wide variety of vacation and recreational opportunities. Most of the land around the lake is privately owned and respect for private property - especially boat docks - is required. Fishermen have the legal right to operate a boat and fish in all parts of the lake and its tributaries. However, common courtesy goes a long way toward preventing arguments with local landowners. No timber was left standing when the lake was impounded, which has resulted in approximately 75% of the cover in the lake being man-made. Homemade brush piles (especially around boat docks) form the primary fish-holding cover. Tournament bass anglers recognize Lake of the Ozarks as the most famous dock pattern fishery in the country. Other structure that remains - deadfalls, log jams, and buck brush - has accumulated naturally.

fishing map lake ot Ozarks

5 Expert Tips for Locating and Catching Fish in Lake of the Ozarks

1. Bass Fishing Patterns

rod holder dock mounted
 Bass Pro Shops Rod Holder

The predominant bass fishing pattern is fishing brush piles around boat docks and the boat docks themselves. Identifying productive ones are the key. Look for docks with seats bolted to the dock or rod holders attached to the dock railing. They are sure signs a fisherman owns the dock, and that a private brush pile is present.

2. Bass-Holding Structure

worm squirmin BPS
Bass Pro Shops Squirmin' Super Worm

The lake's steep bluff banks represent the second significant bass-holding structure. These are fished most effectively by positioning the boat close to the bluff; casting to the base of the bluff and letting a jig or soft baits like a plastic worm fall to the ledges below.

3. Prime Fishing Areas for Catfish

Lake of the Ozarks has an under fished catfish population. Prime areas for catfish action include the riprap around the bridges crossing the main river channel, particularly the Grand Glaize Bridge on Highway 54. Other good regions include the mouths of coves, major creek channels feeding into the main river channel, and the channel side of bluffs.

4. The Best Crappie Fishing In These Key Locations

crappie tubes Limit BPS
Bass Pro Shops Crappie Limit Tubes

Generally, coves near the main river and creek channels offer the best crappie fishing. Key on the pea gravel banks, brush piles and drowned timber. Tube jigs and minnows are productive. White, hot pink, red, yellow and chartreuse (and various combinations of these colors) are the most popular tube colors. Also, minnows suspended beneath a fixed or slip bobber are effective.

1 arrow pointTip: Find a large assortment of panfish lures at Bass Pro Shops here

5. Walleye Are Consistently Stocked in the Lake of the Ozarks

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Cabela's Deep Hot Metal Walleye Runner

Although the Missouri Department of Conservation is working to enhance the lake's walleye fishing, the only spot that offers dependable action is downstream from Truman Dam in the upper Osage during spring. Although large walleye are sometimes caught in the main lake, they are seldom fished for specifically. Deep-diving crankbaits and bottom-bouncer live bait rigs are effective presentations.


Find even more fishing tips, including an interactive map for Lake of the Ozarks, and fishing reports across the state of Missouri on Fishidy