Osage Arm Offers Consistent Lake of the Ozarks Fishing
By John Neporadny Jr.
Despite heavy development throughout the years, the lower Osage arm of the Lake of the Ozarks continues to produce good fishing year round.
The Osage arm from the 6 to the 24 mile marker winds around three peninsulas known as Horseshoe, Shawnee and Turkey bends. Running through the heavily populated Osage Beach area, this section of the lake contains several coves loaded with rows of boat docks.
Numerous marinas and huge condominium docks cover large expanses of shoreline in this area. Recreational boat traffic is heavy in this section from Memorial Day to Labor Day, especially at the mouth of the Grand Glaize arm and around the Lodge of the Four Seasons.
The water in this section has a little more color in it than the dam area and the Gravois, but still offers good visibility most of the year. Water temperatures stay a little cooler on this main river section so fishing picks up a little later in the spring than on the other parts of the lower lake. However some early season action usually occurs in the bigger coves such as North Buck and Buck creeks.
Here are some tips on how to catch the following species on the lower Osage.
During those first couple of warm days in the winter key on brush piles ranging from 10 to 30 feet deep and float a bobber-and-jig combination over the cover for suspended fish. Set the jig 2 to 3 feet below the plastic bobber and throw the combination around docks, which have brush piles either tied at certain depths along the sides of the boat houses or sunk on the bottom. Docks on the main lake and in the deeper coves produce best for winter crappie.
Use a 1/32-ounce jig in clear, smoke or gray hues for the bobber-and-jig tactic. You can also catch some fish throwing a 1/16-ounce Roadrunner around the same docks.
When spring arrives, you can still rely on the bobber and jig but move to shallower docks along the pea gravel shores in the coves and pockets. When working along a barren gravel bank, cast a 1/32-ounce Roadrunner, but if you see a shallow brush pile, toss the bobber and jig to the cover.
After casting the jig past the brush, wind the bobber right into the cover. Waves cause the bobber to rise and fall, which imparts action to the jig below yet keeps the lure in the strike zone longer. The bobber allows you to control the depth of your lure to keep it in front of crappie longer, letting you move the lure slowly to entice sluggish fish holding tight to the cover.
During autumn, throw Roadrunners as you cruise down the banks of wind-blown coves. Sometimes you can find the fish in the same brush piles where they spawn in the spring. However most of the time, you should key on points where you should throw a 1/16 or lighter tube jig.
Use 4- to 6-pound test line for all of your crappie tactics throughout the year.
Summer and fall are the two best seasons to fish for white bass in this section of the lake. You can find whites along the main channel in the summertime and fish for them early and late in the day. Late evening is probably the best time to try for white bass.
A favorite tactic of local anglers for summertime is working a 3/8- or 1/2-ounce jigging spoon (white with red eyes) or a white-and-red 1/4-ounce marabou jig 25 to 30 feet deep along the channel break. Select 12- to 15-pound line for the jig and spoon tactics.
Fall is the best season for catching whites on the lower Osage. You can usually start catching fish in late September and pursue whites until November. “October is the prime month for whites though.
A popper-and-jig combination works best along wind-blown points. Remove both hooks from a Rebel Pop-R topwater lure and tie a 24-inch leader line to the rear hook eye, then attach a 1/16-ounce marabou jig (white with red head) to the end of the leader. Just pop it like you normally would work a Pop-R and tie the popper on 15-pound line with 10-pound line for the jig trailer.
The fish chase shad extremely shallow on the points so throw this rig within a couple of feet of the bank. Limits of 15 white bass can be taken easily by running from one windy point to the next, especially on cloudy days.
When the bass fishing gets tough in this section during the summertime, local anglers have another alternative. From June through August, you can keep busy by catfishing.
A favorite tactic for catching catfish is with a modified Carolina rig. Use a main line of 15- to 20-pound test and slip on a 1/2- to 3/4-ounce bullet sinker followed by a swivel. Attached to the swivel is a 48-inch leader with a 2/0 hook on the other end. Complete the rig by cutting a Styrofoam bobber in half and clipping it about a foot above the hook. The float keeps the hook out of the mud so the fish can eat the bait easier. A favorite bait is lake shad, but you can also use bait shrimp, crawfish, liver or hot dogs for this Carolina rig.
Drift coves and try to keep your boat over depths of 6 to 25 feet deep for catfish. For the best results, go with the wind whichever way it is blowing. If it is blowing from the back end of the cove forward, then start at the back end or vice versa.
For information on lodging and other facilities at the Lake of the Ozarks or to receive a free 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.