Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fishing Tips for Lake of Ozarks

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fishing Tips for Lake of Ozarks

Article excerpt

When the call goes out that one of the best crappie lakes in the Midwest is having a good spring, anglers likely will come running.

Early indications are that the Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri's most popular reservoir, contains a lot of crappie of good size this spring. If weather and water conditions cooperate, fishing could be some of the best of this decade.

Starting in late February anglers began catching many crappie averaging 11 inches, with some up to 13. Solid, 1-pound crappie were not uncommon. The lake size limit on crappie is 9 inches, but many anglers kept nothing less than 10 inches in filling daily limits of 15. The 1997 Fishing Prospects report issued by the Missouri Department of Conservation said that during sampling last fall 60 percent of the crappie in the lake exceed the 9-inch limit. One of the best-known crappie anglers on the lake is Don Wilson, 70, of Camdenton, who has been fishing the lake almost since it was built in 1931. He ended a 25-year career as a guide last year, but still is interested in helping people catch crappie. Here is some of his wisdom. He fishes exclusively with 1/16-ounce plastic-bodied jigs, and carries with him almost every color combination available. He frequently changes colors to find the right one for that day or even that hour. His rod and reel are "flea-market cheap" and his line is 8-pound "because it keeps the jig up fishing longer." Since 80 percent of fishing is finding fish, he knows of "at least 400" fishing holes on the Niangua arm of the lake within a few miles of his home base at the Flame Resort. About half of those spots contain brush he anchored himself, half have brush sunk around docks by dock owners. For anglers who don't know of good spots to fish, he recommends the "d ock to dock" method in which anglers go from dock to dock, lingering only at those which have brush around them. He frequently casts directly into boat wells but never ties to docks or even touches them because they are private property. He said about two-thirds of the boat docks on the Niangua contain brush and of that about a third of these provide crappie fishing. …

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