Exploring Lake of the Ozarks
When my wife and I had the opportunity to head west to the Lake of the Ozarks region of Missouri this past spring, we jumped on it. The area had everything we were after. We had unfilled Missouri turkey tags that needed taken care of, we wanted to get in some fishing and above all else we wanted to relax.
Lake of the Ozarks covers a vast area, more than 54,000 acres and has more than 1,150 miles of shoreline. This is more than the Pacific coast of California. It is no wonder that USA Today named it the best recreational lake in the nation.
Besides the opportunities for boating, kayaking, paddle boarding and wakeboarding on the lake, it is one of the best bass fisheries in the country. The lake is home to more than 500 bass tournaments a year. That says something right there about the great fishing opportunities available. If bass fishing isn’t your cup of tea, the crappie fishing is exceptional too.
If fishing doesn’t get your attention, maybe one of the state parks will. The area is home to Ha Ha Tonka state park and Lake of the Ozarks state park. Ha Ha Tonka was named the fourth best state park in the nation by USA Today.
Upon arriving in the area we checked in to the Holiday Shores Resort. This quaint little resort has 26 newly renovated fully furnished three-bedroom cottages overlooking the lake. Besides the comfortable cabins, it also has a swimming and fishing dock and covered boat slips. I told my wife more than once that I would be happy living right there from now on.
After getting settled in our cabin and a short nap, it was time to meet up with our hosts and the local turkey experts that would hopefully be putting us on some birds in the next couple of days.
Arriving at HalfSauced Barbeque known for the famous wings and other awesome dishes, we met up with Marjorie Benders and Kyle Stewart who helped make this trip possible and were introduced to Kris Morris and Randy Moseley along with their spouses. Kris and Randy would be our hunting “guides” for the next couple of days allowing us to hunt some of their secret spots. With only two days to hunt before the season came to a close, we had to get it done quickly. Our only concern was the weather forecast.
Over the course of the next couple of days we gave it our all to kill a big tom that this part of Missouri is home to. Unfortunately, Mother Nature did not cooperate and what hunting we got in was between thunder storms. Even the best turkey hunter knows when it is time to hunt and when it is time to take cover. When we were able to hunt, we saw a lot of birds but we never connected. There is no doubt in my mind that if the weather was better that we would have killed a couple turkeys.
Also, on our schedule was to do some fishing with local fishing expert John Neporadny. Waking up to prepare for our trip, rain steadily came down. Now rain was not that big if a deal, but the lightening strikes was enough to keep us off the water. We made plans to return this fall to fish with John. Hopefully the weather will cooperate.
With the weather playing havoc on all of our hunting and fishing adventurers, you might think that the trip was a total washout. Actually, it was far from it. There is so much more to do in the area than just hunt and fish. During our rain outs, we traveled the area taking in some of the gift shops and even got some antiquing in.
There is no shortage of dining opportunities in the area. Whether you are looking for a burger and fries, award winning pizza or a full course meal, it can be found in the area. We found several great restaurants that fitted our wants and even had a great sundae at Randy’s Frozen Custard home of the Ozark Trail. I had the famous Ozark Trail and I recommend trying one if you are ever in the area. Your sweet tooth will thank you.
The weather did cooperate long enough though that we were able to take an aerial tour of the area with Air Lake Aviation. Having already seen much of the area at ground level, it was neat to see it from above. I would highly recommend taking this 30-minute tour.
We went to Lake of the Ozarks hoping to kill a big turkey and/or limit out on fish. Hunters and anglers can do a lot of things to put the odds in their favor. One thing they can’t do is control the weather. Regardless of the precipitation, we enjoyed ourselves, saw some beautiful scenery, ate like kings, and enjoyed time away from home. I just wish we had more time. There is so much to do that we were not able to take it all in. That’s why we will be going back very soon. The next time you are looking to get away, consider Lake of the Ozarks.