It can be a challenge finding fun things to do at Lake of the Ozarks in the dead of winter. To pass the time until warmer weather creeps in we've got a few ways you can still enjoy the Lake even if it is our off-season. So don't stay cooped up too long — get out and have some fun.
1. Go Fish
Yes, even in the winter the fish are biting. For more than 20 years, award-winning freelance writer Darrell Taylor has been fishing Lake of the Ozarks. He says fishing this time of year is not out of the question. In fact, catfish, bass and crappie will all still be active, if you follow a few easy tips from Taylor. Fishing is usually best during a warming trend, like when the daytime temperatures rise from the upper 30s to the 40s or 50s. It also helps if there is a gentle wind blowing onto the shoreline at that time. Both large and spotted bass are caught during the winter using artificial baits, Taylor says. Fish slow with gentle twitches. Winter bass like to remain near shad in deeper water in the winter, especially along bluff walls and ledges. Crappie will suspend in deeper water around brush while catfish can often be found 18 to 30 feet below the surface.
So bundle up and be patient!
2. Listen to Live Music
The live music scene certainly slows down since many of the waterfront bars and restaurants are closed this time of year. But several groups have great entertainment year-round. The Ozark Jazz Society meets every month at the Inn at Grand Glaize for a concert at 6:30 p.m. Many musicians travel from all over the country to perform at the Lake. The performance January 28 is free and will feature the Eldon High School Jazz Band, School of the Osage High School Jazz Band and the 399th Army Brass Band. On February 18 the Kathleen Holman Quartet will perform. Cost is $12.50 for the general public. For a full schedule go to www.lakeozarkjazz.org.
Every month the Lake of the Ozarks Blues Society hosts a jam and open mic night. Held on the second Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. Go to www.lotobs.com to find out more information.
Due to consistent temperatures, caving is a year-round activity. Considered one of the most scenic cave tours in America, Bridal Cave is located just outside of Camdenton. On February 11 you can renew your wedding vows inside the cave for free in honor of Valentine’s Day. More than 3,000 weddings have been performed in the cave chapel. Along the one-hour tour you will see formations that have taken millions of years to develop. Explore the mineral deposits, giant columns, onyx formations and other sights. For more information, go to www.bridalcave.com.
You will hear a mix of folklore and history on a one-hour guided tour at the re-opened Stark Caverns, located just outside of Eldon.The cave has spacious viewing areas and beautiful formations. One of the most interesting parts is an area where several Indian remains are on display. In 1967 crews discovered the bones when digging about 14 inches into the ground near the entrance of the cave.
A visitors center and event venue just opened making it the perfect spot for weddings or special events. Get your tickets online at www.starkcaverns.com.
Make sure to call for winter hours at both locations.
4. Shop for Sweets
Speaking of Valentine’s Day, the Lake has its fair share of confectionaries and one-of-a-kind shops if you are looking for something special. Blair & Co. Confectionery has been an Osage Beach landmark for 58 years, and has been family owned and operated for three generations. Located at The Landing on Main Street, one of the most popular items this time of year is the gift boxed dozen and half-dozen Driscolls chocolate-covered strawberries. But there are also decorative hand-dipped pretzels and too many other types of candy and chocolate to count. The store’s unique collection of merchandise and gifts makes it easy to find something for anyone.
The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in Osage Beach has about 20 varieties of caramel apples, hand-dipped items like chocolate-covered strawberries, chocolate-covered Twinkies, pretzels, Oreos, frozen bananas, and lots of other items. Fudge, truffles, toffee, taffy, caramels, clusters, creams, and peanut butter products can be found behind the counter. There are festive pre-packaged gift items, too.
5. Indoor swimming
Do the kids have cabin fever? Timber Falls Waterpark is the Lake’s only indoor waterpark with 600 feet of slides, a 21-seat whirlpool, lazy river for tube floating, water guns and other activity centers. One of the highlights of the 20,000-square foot waterpark is the 600-gallon tipping bucket. Stand underneath and you’ll get drenched.
Located at Tan-Tar-A Resort in Osage Beach.Cost is $22 per person (for non-hotel guests). Kids ages 2 and under get in free.
If you are interested in perfecting your back stroke or taking a water aerobics class, the West Lake Aquatic Center is located in Laurie. From swimming a few laps to taking a boot camp class, you’ll find a variety of programs and memberships available. For more information, go to www.westlakeaquaticcenter.com.