Friday, February 23rd, 2018

Lake of the Ozarks

Lake view Life at the lake began for us when a persuasive young lady, Shirley Vann, spoke to Rotary East in the early 1980s. She was selling timeshares for the Lodge of the Four Seasons at the Lake of the Ozarks in south-central Missouri. “Come on down for a free weekend,” she said. “Why not,” we said. Through the 80s we bought into 4 timeshare weeks at the Treelofts in a little cove West of the Lodge, on the South side of Horseshoe Bend. Our rationale, not entirely illogical, was with the fixed weeks of ownership (17, 18, 37, 38, conveniently straddling the tourist season), I might be more likely to take vacation with the family. It pretty much worked out that way.

Getting there

From Quincy to Four Seasons Village is 170 miles, through Hannibal to New London; angling SW to Mexico and Kingdom City on I-70, picking up US-54 and on down to Bagnell Dam on the lake. Three hours plus pit stop time now, but then it was more like 3-1/2 hours, an easy half-day drive. We have owned 5 autos during that period, and all have faithfully and more-or-less safely conveyed us there and back, pulling a boat trailer most of the time.

The Lake

“Our” lake is a large man-made reservoir in the north part of the Ozark plateau in central Missouri. It covers 55,000 acres with 1,150 miles of shoreline, and the main channel runs 92 miles from Bagnell Dam to the tailwaters of Truman Lake. For more details, see Lake of the Ozarks in Wikipedia. It’s an old lake; it started filling a couple of months before I was born in April, 1931. I’m an old man. When I check out, do you suppose the Bagnell Dam generators will stop turning?


For four days, May 19-23, 2008, Brothers Tom, Don, and Dave met at the lake to talk, eat, and fish. A pictorial account, Three Men in a Boat, tells the tale.


The shoreline of the Lake of the Ozarks has become lined with boat docks, a condition made possible because, unlike Corps of Engineers reservoirs, there is no set-back for landowners. Property lines can go down to waters edge and easy access to boats. In fact, also unlike other reservoirs, boat docks provide much of the cover for fish. Sink a few Christmas trees anchored by concrete blocks around the dock, and you have created a home for a fishy food chain from algae to minnows, to Crappie to Bass.

Dreamhouse-thumbI dreamed about such a fisherman’s hangout during my early years at the lake, but this particular dream didn’t quite work out.

Ending up as we did at the big boat and jetski end of the lake, meant some adjustments in fishing strategy, especially during the Memorial Day to Labor Day vacation season. Low free-board bass boats and large, over-powered recreational boats don’t safely coexist. Fishing is prudently restricted to the early morning hours while the big boat skippers are sleeping off their hangovers. The serious fisher-folk fish after dark in the summer months.

The sunrises at the lake can be spectacular. One morning early in October, 2008, I wasn’t catching fish so I put down my rod and picked up my camera:

How about this Ozarks sunrise?