Get Your Route 66 Kicks at Lake of the Ozarks
The nostalgia of Route 66 continues to captivate summer vacationers who want to cruise the legendary old highway through the heart of the country.
The old popular song “Get Your Kicks on Route 66” can certainly apply to bass anglers who want to cruise the interstates that roughly follow the old highway that was decommissioned in 1984. Bass anglers can follow the same route highlighted in the National Lampoon movie “Vacation” in which Clark Griswold takes his family from Chicago to Los Angeles to visit Walley World. However, the side trips you can take will be to some of the top bass fishing spots in the country rather than Clark’s zany misadventures off the beaten path to visit Dodge City or Cousin Eddie in Arizona.
One of those stops for bass anglers close to the old Route 66 is at Lake of the Ozarks. While travelling on Interstate 44 through Missouri, stop at Lebanon and head north on Missouri Highway 5 for about 25 miles to reach the Lake of the Ozarks. The 54,000-acre lake was the largest manmade reservoir in the world when the dam across the Osage River was built in 1931. The lake has been the site for Bassmaster Central Opens and Invitationals throughout the years and former Bassmaster Classic champions Denny Brauer and Guido and Dion Hibdon honed their skills while guiding and competing in tournaments there.
Thousands of boat docks lining the lake’s 1,150 miles of shoreline provide excellent year-round cover for largemouth and spotted bass. The lake lost most of its natural cover when the standing timber was cleared before the lake was formed but anglers and dock owners are constantly filling the lake with new cover by planting brush piles throughout the impoundment. Summertime bass are also attracted to the lake’s steep bluffs, creek channels, humps and points.
The best summertime bass patterns at the lake include working 10-inch Berkley Power Worms in brush piles 15 to 30 feet deep and running deep-diving crankbaits or dragging Carolina-rigged creature baits on main lake points, channel drops and humps.
Recreational boat traffic is extremely heavy on the lake during the summer, so visiting bass anglers should try fishing early and late in the day. Fishing after sunset is excellent throughout the summer as it usually takes around 20 pounds to win night tournaments.
The 15-inch minimum length limit for largemouth bass imposed by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has helped produce consistently good bass fishing for more than three decades. In recent MDC electrofishing surveys taken on two arms of the lake, the percentages of keeper bass ranged from 15 to 24 percent.
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.
For copies of John Neporadny’s THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Guide call 573/365-4296 or visit www.jnoutdoors.com.
Reprinted with permission from Bassmaster Magazine.