Sunset by Osage River

Explore the Beauty and Bounty of Fishing in the Ozarks: A Guide

Anglers, prepare to cast your lines into one of the best fishing destinations in the US—the Lake of the Ozarks. It's a prime spot for anglers of all skill levels due to its abundance of fish and wildlife.

Navigate the shores and catch that bountiful prize with our Ozark fishing guide. Here, you’ll learn the basics about the LOTO and expert tips to increase your chances of reeling in that big catch.

So pack up your gear, hit the water, and get ready for some exciting fishing in the Ozarks!

Best Fishing Spots in the Ozarks

The Lake of the Ozarks is every angler’s paradise. Created in 1931, it boasts over 54,000 acres of surface area and 1,100 miles of scenic shoreline. 

International anglers flock to Osage Beach and the Bagnell Dam for some of the best fishing in the Ozarks. But the cool thing is you don't have to limit yourself to boating. You can also hike and camp in public access areas like LOTO State Park (Grand Glaize Beach).

Types of Fish in Lake of the Ozarks

Wondering what fish are in Lake of the Ozarks? The lake is home to popular sport fish like largemouth bass, black bass, and white bass. You can also find less common species, including walleye and blue catfish

But it’s the crappie fishing that really stands out at this lake. The pea gravel banks are a hot spot for catching these scrappy fighters. But don’t take our word for it. In fact, the LOTO holds phenomenal fishing records today.

Biggest Fish in Lake of the Ozarks

Local angler Troy Staggs caught and released a white sturgeon (also called the lake sturgeon) in the LOTO in 2022. According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, this species is Missouri’s longest-lived animal and second-largest fish. Sturgeons can live up to 100 years and weigh over 200 pounds. 

Another Illinois angler set a new state record by catching a 140-pound, 10-ounce paddlefish in the same year. These impressive catches highlight the diversity of fish in Lake of the Ozarks.

Get ready to be hooked on your next catch with so many great spots to fish from the shore or by boat.

Ozark-Friendly Fishing Techniques and Baits

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to catching fish. Techniques and baits that work best in the Ozarks vary greatly depending on the season and location.

Fish are more active and aggressive during the warmer months, so topwater lures like poppers and buzz baits are a good choice. As the weather cools, fish become less active. It’s time to opt for slower techniques like bottom bouncing with soft plastic lures or live bait.

Anglers who use crawfish-like baits may have better success in rocky areas. While weedless bait like Texas-rigged worms is more suitable in areas with dense vegetation.

Fisherman rod reeling in the river

Make the most of your bait with these year-round fishing techniques in the Ozarks:

  • Trolling - Drag a line with bait or lures behind a moving boat to cover a large area of water and attract larger fish like bass and walleye.
  • Fly-fishing - Use a lightweight lure, called a fly, to mimic insects or small bait fish. To cast the line accurately, maintain a smooth and gradual motion, keep your wrist straight, and stop the rod at the end of the cast.
  • Jigging - Bounce a weighted lure or a jig up and down in the water. This motion mimics the action of another dying or injured fish, attracting your target to the bait.

Plan Your Next LOTO Fishing Trip

The Lake of the Ozarks is known for its swift water currents. This can be dangerous if you’re unprepared. Always wear a life jacket and bring appropriate safety equipment (e.g., whistle and first aid kit) to protect yourself from strong water currents, especially near dams.

Plan your trip around the seasons. The LOTO is known for great fishing all year. But certain seasons may be better for specific species. 

Consider entering a local fishing tournament to get insider information on where to find the best catches. But you can also work with a guide.

If you want more excitement, schedule your visit around the annual powerboat racing event, The Shootout. This event draws visitors nationwide and is a must-see for racing or boating enthusiasts.

Don’t forget to pack all the essential gear you’ll need for successful fishing in the Ozarks. And while you’re at it, deck out your trip with our custom cooler pad. Keep your beverages cold in style while you’re out on the water. Check out our custom cooler pad top options.
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