Lake of the Ozarks

Overview

Posted by Phil Lilley on October 5th, 2011
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Lake of the Ozarks is known mostly as “Lake Oz” or the “Magic Dragon,” due to its shape.  It was impounded in 1931 with the damming of the Osage River by Bagnell Dam.  The dam, built by Union Electric Co. out of St. Louis, is currently owned by Ameren Electric.  This 92-mile stretch of the mighty Osage River impounds 56,000 acres of water.  It rarely rises or falls more than five feet from its standard pool level of 660 feet.  It is the largest lake in the world that  has never been a flood-control basin.

Lake of the Ozarks Lake Levels

Lake of the Ozarks’ diverse population is the basis of its wide appeal.  It can be called “Little Miami” for its thunderous 70-foot jet boats and multi-million dollar retreats in the Lake Ozark, Osage Beach, Sunrise Beach areas of the lake contrasted with the extremely modest cabins and small lake front homes on the Osage Arm of the lake, from Camdenton to Warsaw.

Lake of the Ozarks’ real calling card, however, is the fishing. Without a doubt, Lake Oz harbors one of the most diverse fisheries in the entire Midwest. Fishing season really jumpstarts on March 15 with paddle fish or spoonbill snagging season; these prehistoric residents of the Osage are mined from the river above the 60-mile mark to Truman Dam.  Sixty- to 80-pound fish are caught every year.

Lake Oz is also known for fantastic crappie fishing as most of its 25,000 private docks have been surrounded by brush that the dock owners have planted to entice these tasty white fish. Are there largemouth bass in Lake Oz? You bet. Lake Oz is one of Missouri’s biggest stops for the play-for-pay boys. FLW, Bassmaster Elite, Stren, Everstart and loads of regional and local fishing tournaments — along with about everyone with a rear winder — wants to pitch a bait on this big bass factory. Lake Oz also has extremely high populations of blue cat, white bass, hybrids, sunfish and rough fish, making it, unquestionably, one of Missouri’s top fishing destinations.

With abundant accommodations, on its 1,500 miles of shoreline and water ranging from murky on the Osage to clear on the Niangua and Gravois Creek arms, there is something for everyone on Mid-Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks.

Introductory Article by John Neporadny, Jr.

MDC Structure Habitat Map

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