Top 5 Waters: The best bass destinations for 2001

Lake of the Ozarks

Lake of the Ozarks in central Missouri is an old reservoir (impounded in 1931), but it continues to produce extremely good numbers and sizes of largemouth bass. Several factors are responsible for this lake's ongoing productivity. It drains fertile land, and this fertility leeches into the water. Shad-the bass' main food supply-are plentiful and consistent in year-to-year spawning success. Boat docks and brushpiles sunk by anglers offer abundant cover for the fish to spawn, feed, and evade predators. Also, a 15-inch minimum size for largemouths allows young bass to grow to maturity. The result of all this is excellent fishing, including a bounty of bass in the 5- to 6-pound class. In the spring, winning tournament catches of five fish routinely exceed 30 pounds. Occasionally largemouths over 8 pounds are boated. Best times to fish: April and October through early November. For more information about fishing Lake of the Ozarks, contact the Missouri Department of Conservation (573-346-2210; www.conservation.state.mo.us).