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July Bass Fishing on Lake of the Ozarks

July is a very busy time of year at Lake of the Ozarks. Thousands of residents, 2nd home owners and visitors head out on the water every day to escape the summer heat.  Although the recreational boat traffic on the lake can create very rough water, it is still possible for anglers to enjoy a safe and successful bass fishing trip just by knowing a few things about boat traffic patterns on the lake. 

Although the months of July and August are considered by many anglers to be the slowest and toughest times of the year to catch bass at Lake of the Ozarks, if you know where to cast and what kinds of lures to throw, you can have a very successful bass fishing trip at this time of the year.

Here are a few tips to consider when planning a fishing trip in July.

  • Many areas of the lake have no-wake coves and protected pockets. For example, a significant portion of shoreline near the Grand Glaize Bridge is a no-wake zone on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 10 a.m. -sunset between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

It extends from the mouth to the 1.5 Mile Marker (1.5 MM) of the Grand Glaize Arm, and provides anglers with some relief from the waves caused by big boats during the lake’s busiest time of the year.  You’ll find many good bass fishing coves along this stretch of shoreline.  Visit BassingBob.com for a list of more no-wake coves on the lake.

• Even during the busy months of the summer, boat traffic is relatively light on the lake during the week.

• If you head out on the lake between 5-10 a.m. and 5 p.m. – sunset, you will avoid much of the heaviest traffic. Since these are the best times to catch bass anyway, going out to fish during these hours of the day has many advantages!

BassingBob.com suggests hiring a guide for 4-8 hours early in your vacation. If you invest some time into learning some basic bass fishing tips and tricks from someone who knows the lake, you’ll be able to spend the rest of your vacation catching fish with your family.

Once you consider the costs involved in taking out a boat, the benefit of having access to the guide’s extensive collection of equipment, and the valuable instruction you get, time spent with a guide can really be worth the money.

We suggests hiring a guide for four hours first thing in the morning, especially if you have kids you want to take fishing.  “That way you won’t be dealing with the big boats. “If I know I’m taking out young or beginning anglers, we’ll get crickets and start out catching some bluegill.  Or we’ll get some PowerBait worms that have a strong smell to attract fish.  

“Using live bait like crickets and earth- worms can also help us locate schools of baitfish, which will help us find the bass. If my guests specifically want to catch bass, we’ll try a small shaky head up to the larger sizes, or a weightless Senko. If we’re out fishing in the early morning or late evening, we might also try a ¼ ounce Beetle Spin.”  

Bass and Their “Summer Pattern”

When the air temperatures begin to stay in the 90’s and sometimes climb into the 100’s, the water temperatures will hover in the mid- to upper-80’s. At this temperature, the bass set up in a “summer pattern”, and it can be challenging to locate the fish, and even tougher to get them interested enough to bite. 

What is a “summer pattern”? Like all cold-blooded animals, bass must rely on their environment to regulate their body temperature. During the hottest part of the summer, and especially during mid-day, they will be in the deepest, darkest places they can find where the water is coolest, such as under docks or brushpiles. The bigger bass will often be suspended in 15-30 feet of water off ledges and main points while the smaller fish, such as the spotted bass, may hold on the main lake community docks, wave breaks, bluffs and deep straight banks. 

“At this time of the year, you’re looking for objects on points like boulders and logs. “Bass are object oriented; it makes them feel safe. However, it doesn’t always have to be an object. They could also be holding in a depression on that point where the water doesn’t rush by at same rate.”

Wind

Wind is important throughout the year, but is especially helpful in July because it oxygenates the water. In effect, wind and the waves caused by the wind simulate the conditions that happen when water is being generated.  

Wind also distorts the bass’ view of your bait making it harder for them to identify it as a lure, which makes them more likely to strike.  The waves created by boat traffic can also mimic the effects of wind, and help oxygenate to water, especially in the shallows.

Changes from Early to Late July

“The biggest difference between early and late July is the water temperature. As July wears on, assuming normal weather patterns, the water will get hotter. “In late July, especially in the heat of the day, the bass will be even more likely to lurk deep in the water column, suspended or relating to some kind of structure. 

”However, and I know this seems contradictory, but late July is also a time to start fishing in the shallows, in 2-3 feet of water.

“Remember, the hotter the water temperatures, the less oxygen will be in the water. Because of the disturbances caused by wind and wave action, the shallow water closer to the shoreline will actually contain a higher concentration of oxygen than the water found in deeper parts of the lake. 

“That’s why you’ll find some big fish hanging out in the shallows, preying on the shad which have also gone there to take advantage of this oxygenated water. And where there are shad, there will be bass.”

We suggest fishing the shallows in the early morning, late evening, and throughout the night, using topwater baits, square bills that dive 2-4 feet, and medium-diving crankbaits that dive from the surface down to 10 feet. “Try spooks, Pop-R’s, and buzzbaits.

“Fish shallow on points, and in the backs of short coves. Fish the first 3-4 docks or the last 3-4 docks in the cove; those will hold the biggest fish.”

The hotter the water temperatures in July, the deeper you have to fish.  “In the afternoons, the bass will be under the darkest spots they can find and defend. “Fish deep brushpiles using big 10-12” worms, with weights just heavy enough to be able to tell it’s on the bottom. Try 5/8-3/4 oz shaky heads and bigger jigs.  

“Also fish lightweight finesse 1/8 oz shaky heads and magnum trick worms. You don’t want a ton of action because it’s hot. Throw deep-diving crankbaits and big Rat-L-Traps. The most effective colors mimic shad and bluegill. Try lavender shad, or sour grape if the water is stained. Also good are “parrot colors”, like blue, chartreuse, and greens. Chrome is also good because it reflects the sun well.”

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