The Reel Deal: LIS on Lake of the Ozarks
by Lindsey Lucas
Lake of the Ozarks is one of the largest lakes in Missouri. It is more than 84 miles long with 1,100 miles of shoreline. In places it reaches 130 feet deep.
The huge lake offers great fishing for a variety of species including spotted bass, largemouth bass, catfish, and bluegill. Of course, it is also an amazing crappie lake as well.
I’ve been fishing in several different states, but so far, no place I’ve been can beat this lake in my home state. Lake of the Ozarks has more to offer than just great fishing, it also has great landscapes and wildlife. While fishing Lake of the Ozarks I’ve seen deer, squirrels, and ducks that swam up to my boat.
The largest white crappie recorded from Lake of the Ozarks, according to CrappieNOW writer Brent Frazee, writing for the The Kansas City Star, weighed 3.74 pounds and was caught March 26, 2015.
In order to keep crappie on Lake of the Ozarks, they must be at least nine inches long. Each angler can keep 15 per day. Like most places, crappie spawn in Lake of the Ozarks when the water temperature is around 60 degrees. Depending upon the weather, the spawn can last from early March to the middle of May. Like other panfish, crappie normally like to make their spawning nests in the mud of shallow waters one-to-six feet deep.
My family recently made a trip to Lake of the Ozarks, about an hour-and-a-half from our home. We caught 23 legal fish including largemouth bass, white bass and crappie – along with several crappie that didn’t reach the minimum size limit. We had strong winds which made spider rigging difficult. After trying spider rigging for a bit, we decided to go to our live-imaging sonar (LIS).
With LIS, the largest screen size you can afford provides the best viewing, and your enjoyment. Of course, Garmin was the first company to come out with the LIS. We have the Garmin LiveScope with a 9-inch monitor. For us, it is not too large for the space and location in our boat, yet provides us with a good viewing image.
Adjusting your settings based on distance to structure and water depth is critical. With proper settings you can actually watch a live image of fish, trees, and schools of baitfish – the smaller fish that other fish feed on. You can even watch your lures and maneuver them directly to the fish you hope to catch.
When we’re using the LIS, we use our trolling motor to move around until we locate a school of crappie. In order to see if they are crappie or not on the LIS, the crappie will look like circular blobs, bigger fish will appear longer and don’t appear as circular. Bait fish will look like a whole bunch of small polka dots.
We then hit what is called spotlock on our trolling motor which uses GPS to keep us in the same location, even if the wind is blowing. We take a fishing pole with a jig tied on and drop it into the school of fish. When you’re dropping the jig into the water while using the live sonar, you can actually watch your lure in the water and swim it where you want. It’s kind of like a video game, but this time you get to experience it in real life.
My favorite part of using the LIS is being able to actually watch the fish come up and bite the jig. This amazing new technology has added a new dimension to fishing for me and my family. But the greatest enjoyment still comes from enjoying the wildlife, beautiful scenery and taking advantage of all the bountiful natural resources Lake of the Ozarks has to offer.
(Lindsey Lucas, 15, is a relatively new contributor to CrappieNOW. She is obsessed with all things outdoors with dreams of becoming an accomplished outdoor media provider and influencer. She hopes the tips and experiences she shares will prove inspirational for other young men and women in her Gen Z age group.)