Fishing at Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri during March can be one of the most productive times to enjoy and catch fish. During March the days are getting longer, the water temperatures will be warming up and the fish will be starting to move from their winter time holding areas and their metabolism will start get faster, therefore they will be on the hunt for food.
This winter however, has been one of the coldest in many years, the lake has been frozen for most of February and early March water temperatures are in the mid to upper 30’s, therefore the fishing in early March has been quite difficult to get the bass and crappie to bite. For the most part the bass are mostly on the bottom from 20’-30’ of water, holding inside of deep brush piles or suspended over very deep water, without much indication that they want to eat or move to chase a meal. The crappie have also been more lethargic than usual for this time of the year, however they seem to be more catchable than the bass in deep brush piles and around dock brush piles.
In fact, many of the bass being caught are being caught on crappie jigs by fisherman fishing for crappie in brush piles. This is certainly an indication that brush piles are holding bass and the bass want their meal to be small and brought to them worked very slowly.
Bass tournaments the early part of March have seen weights being way down. While it is not unusual to see 5 fish limit weights from 18-22 pounds this time of the year, winning weights have been in the 10-12 pound range, with many tournament anglers being shut out from catching a single fish, including me.
The cold water temperature bite that has been successful has been slow rolling a multi rig bait (ala the Alabama Rig), a rig that has multiple swim baits (3-5 baits) that imitate a small school of shad or bait fish. The successful fisherman have been working this style of rig slowly along the bottom in 15 to 30 feet of water or over the top of brush piles. It should be noted that the State of Missouri regulation for multi-rig baits is a total of 3 hooks, therefore for rigs that have capacity for more than three swim baits, you will need to either attach a spinner to the other wires of the rig or use what is referred to as dummy baits, swim baits with no hooks. These can be attached to the rig with a hitch hiker, a hitch hiker is a small screw like wire that the bait without a hook can be added to the rig.
As the water begins to warm, which it will in March, the bass fishing should really turn on. As the water temperature starts to reach into the low, to mid and high 40’s which is likely through March, the fish will start to move and want to feed. They will start to feel that spring fever, just as we do. However, they also are going to start feeling the urge to spawn and/or get into the spawning areas to pre-stage for the spawn. While the spawn on Lake of the Ozarks does not really start to happen until about mid-late April and into May, the end of March as the water temperatures rise, the fish will start to migrate into the areas in preparation for the spawn.
Lake of the Ozarks Bass Fishing pro’s and experts recently met with BassingBob to discuss March bass fishing on the Lake of the Ozarks, this monthly meeting of experts is video taped each month and can be watched in it’s entirety on www.bassingbob.com. A monthly publication for March can also be found on the same web site.
In summary of the experts meeting, there is a lot of similarity amongst the experts regarding what baits to fish, locations and structure. The experts agree that during March the fish will begin to become more active as the water warms into the 40’s. They suggest fishing in and around secondary points that lead to spawning areas. As the fish are still a bit lethargic, it is key to fish slowly. Brush piles and docks around these areas will also hold catchable fish. The experts pretty much agree on three primary baits to catch bass, a jerkbait, an Alabama Rig and a bottom bait, like a jig or creature bait. As the water begins to warm, fish should become catchable at the more common strike zone depths of 8’ – 15’ of water.
The bass will also be found close to bait fish and they will likely be close to deep water but up on the flats and secondary points to feed. It is often overlook at Lake of the Ozarks, that many fish also spawn on bluff ledges. These are often some of your biggest fish. These are often referred to as river fish, as these fish live full time along the river channels of Lake of the Ozarks. These fish will also start to feed and move more as the water temperatures warm. They will come up along the ledges of bluffs and on main lake points to feed. The baits to catch these fish are the same, a suspending jerk bait, Alabama Rig and bottom bait like a jig or creature bait. The jig/creature baits are very successful on bluff ledges by pulling the bait from ledge to ledge, often the fish will be relating to a drop off of a ledge and the bait will be eaten either as it is falling in front of them or being dragged in the bottom of a ledge. The very best jig and/or creature bait on Lake of the Ozarks is made my Crock-o-Gator Bait Company.
I would also encourage fisherman coming to the lake in March, whether you are an occasional angler or tournament angler, to hire a guide for a half a day or full day. March is a very tricky time of year, especially this year as we have had such severe cold water temperatures. My suggestion is to contact Jack Uxa of Jack’s Guide Service. Jack is a full time guide on the lake, he is the only multi species guide (crappie, bass, catfish, etc.). The Lake of the Ozarks bait and tackle stores are also another great place to find out what the fish are biting on, where to fish for the active fish, ect. My suggestions for bait stores on Lake of the Ozarks are Fitz Fishing, Tackle and Supplies, and Osage Bait and Tackle. Wayne, the owner of Fitz Fishing, is a veteran active tournament fisherman on Lake of the Ozarks and Bill at Osage Bait and Tackle has a great selection of fishing goods and always has an entourage of fishing guides and expert fisherman working at his store.
Finally, for videos, pictures, daily, weekly and monthly fishing reports, check out www.bassingbob.com.
Good fishing everyone. Please feel free to contact me with questions or send me pics with your fishing report to email@example.com.