2023 Tackle Warehouse Invitationals: Lake of the Ozarks preview - Major League Fishing

2023 Tackle Warehouse Invitationals: Lake of the Ozarks preview

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May 1, 2023 • Jody White • Invitationals

After the 2022 Bass Pro Tour event on Lake of the Ozarks, it’s no big mystery what to expect for this year’s Tackle Warehouse Invitationals showdown on the big Missouri impoundment. With the pros in Phoenix Boats Stop 4 Presented by Mystik Lubricants fishing for five almost exactly on the full moon, it should be a spawn-time whackfest.

Lake of the Ozarks

Osage Beach, Missouri

May 4-6, 2023

Hosted by the Tri-County Lodging Association

Tournament details  

Lake of the Ozarks is defined by many docks.

About the fishery

Lake of the Ozarks is a big lake with a surface area of more than 54,000 acres and 1,150 miles of shoreline. Much of that shoreline is developed, with a seemingly endless number of docks lining the bank, making it one of the best dock-fishing lakes in the country. The massive amount of docks also means plenty of boats and the lake can get quite busy from boat traffic.

Lake of the Ozarks is also known as one of the country’s most popular destinations for non-fishing recreation and hosts a heavy flow of water-skiers, pleasure boaters and various other kinds of personal watercraft. Consequently, boat traffic is a key factor to consider when the sun is shining in the Ozarks.

The lake is an impoundment on the Osage River, with the dam completed in 1931. Three tributaries of the Osage – the Niangua River, Grand Glaize Creek and Gravois Creek – make up the major arms of this serpentine body of water. The lake’s size should help spread out the field, with anglers likely to find bass in all sections of the fishery.

Jesse Wiggins won Stage Four of the 2022 Bass Pro Tour on Lake of the Ozarks.

Last time

The Toyota Series has made a habit of hitting Lake of the Ozarks early and in the fall, but not really during the spawn. In 2018, the Ozark Division hit the lake at the end of April with really good results – Zach Bechtel won with 21 pounds, 7 ounces and the top nine all had more than 15 pounds.

Last year’s Bass Pro Tour event on Lake of the Ozarks saw Jesse Wiggins win with a shaky head on the final day, catching 11 fish for 27-11. That win came in dirtier water up the lake, with rain and poor conditions defining the latter half of the event. On Day 1, Shaw Grigsby lead Group A with 14 fish for 37-15, and more than half the group caught a 4-pounder, with three pros catching one over 6 pounds.

The dream scenario involves Shaw Grigsby plucking big ones off beds for three days in a row.

What to expect this time

An Ozark ace, “THE” Andy Newcomb reckons we’re headed for a barn burner – no shaky heads needed.

“That ain’t gonna happen,” Newcomb said. “That was an every fish deal, and that ain’t gonna happen. There will be fish caught on a shaky head, but you’re not gonna win just throwing a shaky head. There will be some Carolina rig fish, some Magdraft fish, topwater, that sort of stuff. If the shad are spawning you’ll see a spinnerbait. It’ll be kind of wide open, there will be just about everything in play, I just expect it to be dominated by bed fishing.”

With the time of year and the moon phase taken into consideration, Newcomb expects that there will be a lot of bass getting busy.

“It is going to be dependent on our weather this spring,” Newcomb said. “It’s going to be mostly spawn, and some postspawn. Coming into a full moon, it’ll mostly be a spawn deal. We see spawners into June every year. I expect it to be full-blown spawn, you’re going to see some big bags on Day 1.”

Some lakes can support a day or so of bed fishing and then peter out. Luckily, Lake of the Ozarks has enough bass and places for them to spawn that pros should be able to look for three days in a row if they want to.

“There’s just so many fish, and so many places for them to spawn, so many docks and cables,” Newcomb said. “They have so many places to do it, that if a guy goes out and marks as many fish as they can, and then marks some new ones that pull up, you could definitely catch spawners all three days. A lot of times, that’s the biggest spawn we have, when we get a full moon early in May.”

With a prognosis like that, you can bet John Cox and Ron Nelson are fired up. With fingers crossed for good weather, the only question is how good it can be.

“Day 1, there’s a good chance you see a couple around that 25-pound mark,” Newcomb said. “Obviously it’ll fall off a little after that; but if we get perfect conditions, it’s sunny and everybody can see, we don’t get a big rain, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it take 60 pounds.”