Bass bustin’ in the Ozarks

I’ve just returned from a visit to Lake of the Ozarks. It is a lake tourist destination for people from St. Louis, Kansas City, and Chicago.
This flooded valley, which produces power for the state of Missouri, is expanding rapidly as more and more seasonal homes are being built.
I should temper the term seasonal homes. Most are far pricier than the most expensive homes found in Fort Frances and on Rainy Lake.
If you travel from the lower end of the lake to the upper end, some 70 miles, the shoreline is quickly filling in with homes and condominium developments.
In most areas, Lake of the Ozarks is less than one mile wide. The lake walls rise almost vertically from the water and in several areas, to make room for the condominium developments, the walls are drilled and blasted backwards to create space to build on and provide parking space.
The friends who we were visiting let us know that many of the homes are used for only a few weeks of the year.
The lake is a playground for summer visitors, and every home seems to have a two-stall floating boathouse filled with at least two boats and a personal watercraft inside.
I am told that in the summer, with the number of boats roaring about, even on windless days, the waves are high and continue well into the night. Last year, boat waves 17 feet high were recorded.
Because of the steep walls, the waves bounce off the shore and are reflected back into the lake.
Fortunately, mid-March attracts few boaters.
My brother-in-law and I got to fish with one of the anglers who fishes the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship and the Kenora Bass International tournament. It was a sunny day and although the predicted high was going to be only seven Celsius, the temperature rose above that.
Phil Bangert had just returned from a tournament in Oklahoma, and had the rods rigged for the day’s fishing. We put in about midway in the lake and didn’t have to travel far until we came to the first stop.
It was a successful stop and within minutes we had four Kentucky bass in the boat. They didn’t measure up to being keepers, but it was a good omen.
The water temperature was about the same as the air temperature and the bass were supposed to be staging getting ready to spawn. For the rest of the day, we fished points, shorelines.
Although the techniques for fishing largemouth and Kentucky bass on Lake of the Ozarks are similar to fishing smallmouth on Rainy Lake, there are big differences on where you fish.
On Lake of the Ozarks, you fish the shoreline between docks and then work your way around the docks. The fish we caught were close to shore, although the graph showed more fish suspended out over deeper water.
We didn’t catch a lot of fish in our day of fishing, but we did get to gawk at a lot of nice homes and boats. We were almost alone on the lake—just like you can be on any day on Rainy Lake.

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