Recent tournament weights and record-breaking catches during a Major League Fishing event have proven Lake of the Ozarks continues to be one of the best bass fisheries in the country.

Ben Verhoef, left, and Rob Bueltmann with their tournament-winning 25.75-pound haul of bass.

The great fishing at Lake of the Ozarks has received national attention as Major League Fishing brought its popular TV fishing tournament program to the lake last June.

Professional anglers on this show caught record-breaking weights of Lake of the Ozarks bass. Other major national professional tournament trails — B.A.S.S., FLW and Crappiemasters — have all chosen Central Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks as one of their tournament fisheries for the 2017 season.

Lake of the Ozarks has always been known as one of the best bass fisheries in the country. That reputation is only growing with it becoming common for tournaments to be won with 25 to 30 pounds of fish for a five- to six-bass limit tournament, or to have 7- to 8-pound bass caught regularly.

Already 2017 is shaping up to be another exceptional year for anglers at Lake of the Ozarks. The outstanding fishing this year may be due to several factors, including fisheries management by the Missouri Department of Conservation, significant shad spawns, diverse habitat, steady water levels and a huge population of bass.

As a result, the number of keeper bass (15 inches or larger) has grown significantly.

Mark Weise shows off the 7.56-pound bass he caught during the Angler’s Choice tournament at Lake of the Ozarks.

A recent March weekend of tournament fishing on Lake of the Ozarks exemplified the good health of the fishery. Anglers in Action, one of the more popular tournament circuits at Lake of the Ozarks, took out of Public Beach #2 (PB2) in Lake of the Ozarks State Park with 145 boats.

Seventeen teams returned to weigh in over 20 pounds of bass in the five-fish limit tournament. Two teams had over 25 pounds each and there were six bass caught weighing over six pounds, with the big bass award winner being a 6.61-pounder. Over 75 teams weighed in a five-fish limit and the average fish weighed in was 3.19 pounds.

The following day, Anglers Choice, another popular tournament series, took out of PB2 with 50 boats. Thirty-eight teams returned with a five-fish limit, and again, it took over 25 pounds to win the tournament, and the big bass was a giant 7.56 pounds.

According to Missouri Department of Conservation fisheries biologist Greg Stoner, there is really no specific scientific reason that the fishery is producing so well other than the overall health of the lake.

Stoner cites a lot of forage for the fish, good cover with the many docks and brush piles, and the steady water levels on Lake of the Ozarks as contributing factors for the good fishing.

In addition, Stoner indicated the mild winter and warming water result in bait fish moving to shallower water, where the bass will follow them, making bass more susceptible to being caught.

Tom Bueltmann with the over 7-pound bass he caught from the docks at Lazy Days Condominiums in Osage Beach.

The team of Rob Bueltmann and Ben Verhoef benefited the most from the good bite during the recent tournaments. They sacked up 25.75 pounds to win the Anglers in Action tournament and followed the next day with 23.72 pounds to take second place in the Anglers Choice tournament.

Bueltmann and Verhoef reported catching their bass on the Megabass jerkbait and the Alabama rig, fishing nearly 19 miles of water from the mouth of the Grand Glaize Arm of the lake all the way to Bagnell Dam.

They were fishing flat pea gravel banks with a southwest wind about midway back in the creeks. Bueltmann and Verhoef also said that brush piles on these banks found in 8 to 12 feet of water were the key to catching their big bass.

The recent good bite was also enjoyed by recreational anglers. Tom Bueltmann, a condo owner at the lake, caught a 7-plus-pound bass fishing from his dock at Lazy Days Condominiums in Osage Beach on a jerkbait.

This past year alone, there have been two reported 10-pound bass caught with several 7- and 8-pound bass being caught in tournaments.

Bass have been reported being caught from all over the lake, from the one-mile marker to the 80-mile marker. The larger fish in the summer months have been caught on spinnerbaits, big worms and jigs, and the larger fish in the winter and spring are mostly being caught on the Alabama rig, jerkbaits, jigs and creature baits.

Regardless of the season or the bait, the big bass population is very strong at Lake of the Ozarks.

Visitors can find more information about the Lake of the Ozarks area, including events and attractions as well as a complete list of accommodations and dining options, at www.FunLake.com.

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