Fisherman’s Paradise: Top Spots at Lake of the Ozarks!


Lake of the Ozarks is one of the premier fishing destinations in the Midwest. This massive man-made lake in central Missouri offers excellent opportunities to catch a variety of freshwater game fish including largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, and more.

With over 1,150 miles of shoreline and 92,000 acres of water, there is no shortage of great spots to drop a line at Lake of the Ozarks. However, some areas stand out for their ability to consistently produce big catches. This article will highlight the top fishing spots at Lake of the Ozarks and provide tips on what techniques and baits work best for different species.

Best Spots for Largemouth Bass

Largemouth bass are the most popular game fish at Lake of the Ozarks. The lake contains good numbers of bass up to 5 pounds, and the chance to catch a trophy over 10 pounds. The best areas to target largemouth bass include:

The Grand Glaize Arm

The lower end of the Grand Glaize Arm near the dam is one of the top spots on the lake for catching largemouth bass. There are acres of flooded timber and standing stumps perfect for bass to ambush prey. During the spring spawn in April-May, target the shallow flats and protected coves where big females move up to bed.

When fishing the Grand Glaize, make sure to have a variety of reaction baits like crankbaits, jerkbaits, and lipless crankbaits to cover water and draw reaction strikes. Soft plastic baits like brush hogs, senkos, and lizards also work well fished slowly around submerged timber.

Osage Arm

The Osage Arm features clear water and healthy largemouth populations. Target main lake points, bluff banks, and docks during the summer months with deep diving crankbaits, jigs, and Texas rig plastics. As fall approaches, bass gang up on shad schools along pea gravel banks – use shad imitating baits like spinnerbaits and swimbaits to catch them.

Big Niangua Arm

The upper section of the Big Niangua Arm is another consistent largemouth producer thanks to its shallower, fertile water. Key areas to target include Layton Cove, Pitcher Cove, and Mallard Cove which all hold good populations of 2-5 pound bass. Working soft plastics like Senkos, brush hogs, and creature baits along chunk rock banks and overhanging trees will get the bites.

Top Crappie Fishing Spots

With a heavy population of black and white crappie, Lake of the Ozarks offers some of the best crappie fishing in the region. Some prime spots for catching slab crappies include:

Gravois Arm

The upper Gravois Arm near the Gravois Mills area has a good mixture of standing timber, boat docks, and submerged brush piles that hold massive schools of crappie. Vertical jigging with small jigs or fishing under a slip bobber with minnows works very well. Target areas in coves around the 8-15 foot depth range.

Niangua Arm

The Niangua Arm has less fishing pressure and excellent crappie populations. Work your way into protected coves and target any submerged brush, timber, or dock posts. Tube jigs and curly tail grubs on 1/16 or 1/32 oz jigheads are proven baits. Tip them with a small minnow for added attraction.

Big Niangua

The upper section of the Big Niangua Arm has some of the best crappie fishing on the lake. Areas like Mallard Cove, Layton Cove, and Pitcher Cove have abundant brush piles and standing timber. Drifting or slow trolling small jigs in these areas will put lots of slab crappie in the boat.

Productive Catfish Areas

Lake of the Ozarks offers good opportunities to catch channel, blue, and flathead catfish. The best areas include:

Dam Area

The area around Bagnell Dam is a prime spot to find blue catfish and flatheads. Drift fishing with live or cut bait is highly effective. Target areas around the deep water discharge near the dam, main channel dropoffs, and creek channels that dump into the main reservoir.

Osage River

The lower Osage River feeds into the lake and holds a high population of blue catfish. Set up on main river channel ledges in 20-40 feet of water. Cut shad, skipjack, live sunfish, and prepared catfish baits all work well.

Grand Glaize Arm

The standing timber and stumps throughout the Grand Glaize Arm provide perfect structure for channel catfish. Use chicken liver, nightcrawlers, or prepared stinkbaits to catch good numbers of eating-sized channel cats here. Focus on creek channels, underwater humps, and areas with woody cover in 10-20 foot depths.

Best Spots for White Bass

When the white bass run each spring, Lake of the Ozarks provides some of the hottest white bass action in the region. The best areas include:

Osage River

During the spring spawn in April-May, huge schools of white bass pile up in the Osage River where it feeds into the lake. Vertical jigging with small jigs or casting inline spinners, crankbaits, and jerkbaits will all catch plenty of hard-fighting white bass.

Big Niangua

The upper section of the Big Niangua Arm gets an excellent white bass run as the fish move up the river to spawn. Target areas around river bends, points, and creek channel drops to get in on the action.

Dam Area

The area around Bagnell Dam is a renowned hotspot for spawning white bass. Fish will stack up in huge schools along current breaks and structure near the dam. Casting jigs, spoons, and crankbaits will catch fish.

Techniques for Specific Species

To maximize your chances of success, match your techniques and gear to the species you are targeting:

Largemouth Bass

  • Soft plastic baits – Senkos, brush hogs, lizards work well for finesse fishing around docks and timber
  • Spinnerbaits and crankbaits to cover water when fish are active
  • Jerkbaits, jigs, and Alabama rigs work great when fishing ledges and river channel drops


  • Light jigs and jigheads (1/32 – 1/8 oz) either tipped with minnows or used alone
  • Small curly tail grubs, tube jigs, and marabou jigs are top producers
  • Use light spinning tackle or ultralight baitcasting reels with 2-6 lb test


  • Drift or slow troll with cut bait, live baitfish, prepared catfish dough baits
  • Target main lake river channels, creek channels, sunken humps and ledges
  • Use stout baitcasting gear spooled with 20-50 lb braided line

White Bass

  • Small jigs like Roadrunners, tube jigs, curly tails (1/16 – 1/4 oz)
  • Rooster tails, inline spinners, jerkbaits, cranks for covering water
  • Use light to medium spinning tackle

Best Times of Year to Fish Lake of the Ozarks

The fishing at Lake of the Ozarks is good year-round but certain times are best for specific species:

  • Spring (April-May) – Best time to catch spawning largemouth bass in shallow water. Also peak season for white bass runs up the rivers that feed the lake.
  • Summer (June-August) – Excellent offshore fishing for largemouths along deep structure. Catfish and crappie action heats up around standing timber in coves.
  • Fall (September-November) – Fall turnover kickstarts feeding activity. Largemouth gang up on shad schools along pea gravel banks. Crappie move shallow to standing timber in coves.
  • Winter (December-March) – Slowest fishing of year. Target deep creek channels for catfish. Some winter crappie action still available around docks and timber.

Top Fishing Charters at Lake of the Ozarks

For anglers who don’t have a boat or want to learn from an experienced local guide, Lake of the Ozarks has some excellent fishing charter services:

Bucksaw Guide Service

  • Specializes in catching trophy largemouth bass
  • Offers full and half day trips
  • Leads the lake in big bass over 8 pounds

Lakota Guide Service

  • Targets all species including crappie, white bass, walleye, and catfish
  • Family friendly guided trips custom tailored to clients
  • 30+ years experience fishing Lake of the Ozarks

Lake Ozark Fishing Adventures

  • Legendary guide service run by veteran angler Tom Bedford
  • Specializes in fast-paced white bass and crappie trips in spring
  • Also offers instructional trips teaching techniques for all species

Ozark Catfishing

  • Catfish specialists that target blues, channels, and trophy flatheads
  • All gear and bait provided – just show up and fish
  • Opens up seldom-fished areas of lower Osage

Top Baits for Lake of the Ozarks

Having the right tackle and baits for Lake of the Ozarks will make the difference between an epic day of fishing or coming home empty handed. Some lures and baits that consistently produce fish include:

Largemouth Bass

  • Plastic Worms – Senkos, brush hogs, lizards
  • Spinnerbaits – especially in shad colors
  • Crankbaits – square bill, deep divers for ledges
  • Jerkbaits – hard bait that mimics injured shad
  • Jigs – excellent for fishing timber and brush


  • Curly tail grubs – 1-2 inch grubs on 1/32 or 1/16 oz jigheads
  • Tube jigs – simple but effective for shallow or deep water
  • Marabou jigs – tail flare pulses like a real minnow
  • Small crankbaits – perfect for covering open water


  • Cut bait – cut shad, skipjack, sunfish, hot dogs, chicken liver
  • Prepared dough baits – stink baits are a classic for channels
  • Live minnows – small sunfish or shad are flathead candy

White Bass

  • Rooster tails and inline spinners – cover water and imitate shad
  • Small jigs – curly tail, bucktail, tube jigs in 1/8 to 1/4 oz
  • Crankbaits – Shallow to medium divers that run 8-12 feet deep

Top 5 Fishing Lakes Near Lake of the Ozarks

While Lake of the Ozarks itself offers stellar fishing, there are several other excellent fisheries within an hour or two driving distance:

  1. Lake of the Ozarks State Park – 15,000 acre lake with great fishing for bass, crappie, catfish just south of the main lake.
  2. Truman Lake – Massive flood control reservoir with 114,000 acres of water and great populations of all species.
  3. Table Rock Lake – Clear water Ozark lake with excellent bass and trout fishing.
  4. Stockton Lake – Clear water lake with flooded timber known for lunker bass, crappie jigs, and walleye.
  5. Bull Shoals Lake – Stretching into northern Arkansas, Bull Shoals is famous for big bass and trout.

No matter which lake you decide to fish, following the tips in this article on locations, techniques, and baits will help you catch more fish on your next Lake of the Ozarks fishing adventure. With its great variety of quality fishing opportunities, it’s no wonder why Lake of the Ozarks continues to rank as one of the top freshwater fisheries in the United States.

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