Weekend Getaway: Truman & Lake of the Ozarks

Last weekend was one of this group’s more anticipated weekends. Weeks, if not months of planning go into a weekend like this one. In fact, the decision was made a year ago to try and get back down to try and replicate last year’s magic on Truman in Missouri. We watched as yet another week of rain and cold fronts threatened to come between us and the success we found last year. But with a weekend so well planned, and the accepted worst case scenario of a good time at the lake with the guys (even if the fishing was less than adequate) we shook it off, kept our heads up, and made for Missouri’s largest reservoir.

Our initial goal was to crappie fish Truman in the mornings, and then return to our base camp – Adam’s lakehouse over on Lake of the Ozarks – and go out for some paddlefish snagging, maybe set some jug lines and enjoy the evenings on the water there.

Our Friday morning start on Truman was cold and wet, and about the same thing we’d been fighting back home – scattered, unpatternable fish. We found fish intermittently in anywhere from 20+ fow up to a few feet, and suspended all throughout the water column. We managed to scratch out 5-6 keepers, maybe caught 15 fish. An incredibly uneventful and poor showing by our standards. A bit frustrated, even having known it was going to be tough, we did our best to get excited for some afternoon snagging on the Lake of the Ozarks.

Part two of our adventure started out with the bonus of setting some jug lines out. With the morning crappie shortage in effect, we were fishing for sustenance at this point. Ok, maybe not, but we did have plans to fry up some fish Saturday night, and the jugs are practically a “gimme”, right?

Once these were all set, we set ourselves to the grind of the snag. Something we did not really know a lot about, to be honest, just something that we had decided last year we would put some time into. Something about these prehistoric looking behemoths beckoned me the moment I saw one on the dock last year. I really wanted to give it a try, and talking the rest of the crew into chasing 50-100lb submarines around the lake wasn’t exactly a chore.

What we had to our advantage was the electronics. These fish were big enough that you could actually see them really well on the down imaging in our boat, at least helping us know which holes to troll through. We did have a couple fish on,old oar house but ran out of daylight before we were able to successfully land one, and had to utilize the “great to watch the sunset on the lake” measurement for success for this one. As we disappeared into an apparently popular hangout for this particular sub-sport – the Old Oar House – plans were heading towards skipping the crappie and spending Saturday with our bull’s-eye squarely focused on Mr. Spoonbill. HE doesn’t seem to care about the weather, and – well – the bite is never really “off”, now is it?

ASIDE: The Old Oar House Inn is more than just a place to stop in and have a post paddle-snagging-adult beverage. Not only is the food there fantastic, but they have all of the tackle you need to get after the monster spoons. We ran out of tackle, and – fully expecting to get gouged at a place on the water like this – found their prices to be pleasantly fair and competitive. Add to that great people, great service, and an awesome atmosphere, and you are just a ping pong ball or two short of perfection. A must-stop for us on each trip there. Usually multiple (every night!) stops :).  END ASIDE.

The evening concluded with a grill session – the likes of which can pretty much be expected on any excursion worthy of we Kansas Outdoorsman. These kids eat like Kings, let me tell you. Redfish, previously procured by Jeff, along with steaks, plenty o’ tators and onions and beans and such… eating is a highlight of every trip we take.

We re-equipped the next morning, added a fourth Kansas Outdoorsman to the mix, and hit the water. We did check out jug lines and added a few quick cats to the dinner menu. Lines reset, we started what could be best described as an 8-9 hour upper body work-out…

It’s a pretty good thing we have
a lot of fun hanging out, because even though you are constantly moving, constantly trolling, ever mindful of your electronics, always “on” – the monotony of repetitious physical activity with little result over such a long period would be a challenge for most. We were able to have a pretty good time, despite not having much action. We had a couple hookups early that resulted in lost fish, and then Jeff got a hold of this one…

A dramatic loss at the edge was a bit disheartening after the long day so far. Thankfully it also served to energize us as we moved on, hoping for one more chance to get one in the boat. Which, at some point later, materialized in the form of Nick hooking up and getting one – and in an odd turn of events, getting tangled with another boat, who ended up helping us land it, as it was tangled into their lines from a wide run. Interesting, but an accomplishment. We got our fish! While we gave it all we had for the remainder of the day, it would be our only one, tipping the scales at 55lbs.

Dusk chased us off once again to enjoy all of those things that typically follow a long day on the water with the guys – grilling, chilling, a whole lot of laughing, and some really good eats, as we sampled our new friend, Mr. Paddlefish, along with some blue cats and some flounder that came along with the redfish the night before.

Might not have been a banner crappie chase this time around, but it was enough to leave us looking towards this time next year…

~ benton


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