By John Neporadny Jr.
If Count Dracula were a bass fisherman, he would have enjoyed fishing Lake of the Ozarks in August. The old vampire has his fun from dusk to dawn, and nocturnal fishing provides the best action for bass anglers in August at the Lake of the Ozarks in Central Missouri.
One angler who prefers fishing in the dark during August is Harold Stark, Eldon, Mo. Stark has been fishing on the Lake of the Ozarks since 1979 and is a former Red Man All American championship qualifier.
“August is probably the best month to night fish on the Lake of the Ozarks,” Stark says. “The fish are in a stable pattern then and will stay in that pattern until September. Once you find two or three spots that are holding fish, you can go back there twice a week all the way through the month and take fish out of those spots. Schools move in and out of those spots all night long. You can get in one spot and catch 25 to 30 fish and you can do it every week.”
Quality fish can be taken during the month. “In August you can catch bass up to 7 pounds,” Stark says. “You don’t see many over 7 pounds come out of the Lake of the Ozarks like you do in the spring, but you will see several 7-pounders come out of there.”
Stark starts his evening on the water at about 7 p.m. He suggests getting to your favorite area before sunset so that you won’t have to spend as much time running around in the dark. Although Stark mostly fishes during the week, he says weekend fishing can be good after the boat traffic dies down.
The type of night doesn’t matter to Stark. “I’ve caught them on nights when it was raining all night long and other nights I’ve caught them when there was a full moon.
The type of day probably affects the night fishing more than the nighttime weather. If the day has been cloudy or rainy, the best fishing occurs during the late evening or the first couple of hours after sunset. “If you have a few weeks of real hot weather where it’s been nothing but sunshine and bluebird skies, they’ll bite all night long,” Stark says.
Stark lists the Niangua, Grand Glaize, Gravois and North Shore areas and the Osage arm up to the 60-mile mark as the best night-fishing areas. He prefers fishing the Gravois and North Shore areas. “I think there’s a higher concentration of fish that are more active in those two areas during the summertime,” Stark says. “They’re not bothered by boat traffic because they put up with boat traffic all day long.”
No matter which arm of the lake he fishes, Stark concentrates on the same type of structure–brush piles 15 to 25 feet deep on the main channel. “It helps if there is a dock around or a lot of docks where those fish can get in there and congregate.” It’s also easier to find the brush piles in the dark if they are near docks.
You can leave your suitcase-sized tacklebox at home when you go night fishing. Stark suggest taking only three types of lures–plastic worms, jigs and spinnerbaits. Use an 8-inch or longer plastic worm in your favorite color with a 3/16th- to 5/16th-ounce worm weight. A blue 1/2-ounce jig with a blue or black plastic trailer also works well. Or try a 1/2-ounce black or purple short-arm spinnerbait with a blue plastic chunk trailer.
“August is a good time to start throwing that spinnerbait,” Stark says. “Those fish see those plastic worms and jigs all the time. Throw the spinnerbait down there and fish it just like a plastic worm.”
The key to night fishing is to work everything slowly. “The slower the better,” Stark says. Slowly roll the spinnerbait to where you can barely feel the blade turning.
You can use any rod-and-reel combination that will handle 12-pound test line for night fishing. “A lot of people use real heavy line, but you don’t have to at night because whenever you hit those fish, they’ll come right on up, even those bigger fish.” Stark uses 12- to 14-pound test line, which is more sensitive than the heavier line and gives him better control of his lures. He says he’s never had to use any lighter line for night fishing.
If your line tangles up or you need to retie, you might need some extra light. “Always take a flashlight because you never know what you’re going to run into out there,” Stark says.
Stark rarely relies on lights when fishing at night though. “I don’t use any lights at all. If I’m in a spot where I know I’m not going to get run over, I won’t even have the boat lights on.” He says he turns off the navigation lights if his boat is within 50 feet of the shore.
Avoiding light. Dusk-to-dawn action. Bats flying around. Maybe Count Dracula has fished Lake of the Ozarks before.
For information on lodging and other facilities at the Lake of the Ozarks or to receive a free 162-page vacation guide, call the Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-FUN-LAKE or visit the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitors Bureau web site at funlake.com.
Copies of John Neporadny’s book, “THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Guide” are available by calling 573/365-4296 or visiting the web site www.jnoutdoors.com.