Engine-powered boats dominate the fishing scene at Lake of the Ozarks but some anglers are discovering they can catch bass from a kayak at the Lake.

Engine-powered boats dominate the fishing scene at Lake of the Ozarks but some anglers are discovering they can catch bass from a kayak at the Lake. 

Kayak bass fishing has grown rapidly in the past 10 years as a result of tournament circuits now holding events for kayak owners. The Lake of the Ozarks hosted a Mo Yak Fishing Tournament Series event in April with a field of 43 anglers fishing in kayaks. 

Kayaks were once considered a small waters craft for fishing in remote areas, but kayak manufacturers are now building larger and wider boats with better stability and pedal-driven systems that allow anglers to fish larger waters such as Lake of the Ozarks. Kayaks have become so stable now that anglers can actually stand and fish without tipping over.

The Lake’s massive size gives kayak anglers plenty of options to fish from Truman Dam to Bagnell Dam.  

“You have a bunch of different types of areas that you can fish and kind of get away from the normally busy areas,” says Jeff Mellencamp, a Mo Yak Fishing Tournament Series competitor. “You can get back in a creek channel or go up the river. That is what I like doing.” 

Mellencamp’s favorite areas to fish from his kayak are the Little Niangua Arm and the Ha Ha Tonka area on the upper Niangua. The Camdenton angler recommends using a kayak 12 feet or longer for fishing the Lake. He fishes in a Hobie Pro Angler 14, a 14-foot kayak with the stability he needs for navigating on the Lake and plenty of storage room.  

“I can handle waves and carry all my stuff in it,” Mellencamp says. With a longer and wider kayak, anglers can fish the same open waters of the Lake where bass boats roam, yet the smaller crafts can also put anglers in remote areas that are inaccessible for bass boats. 

Hobie kayaks are also equipped with the revolutionary MirageDrive, a pedal system that replaces the paddle for propelling the kayak. His pedal-driven kayak allows Mellencamp to cover water quicker and steering handles on the Hobie lets him navigate virtually hands-free.  

Today’s kayaks are designed as smaller scale bass boats with storage compartments and rod racks or holders. Accessories such as depth finders and Power-Pole Micro Anchors also can be mounted on the boats. Other accessories kayak anglers can add to their rigs include storage crates such as the Jackson Kayak JKrate, Hobie H-Crate or the YakGear Kayak Angler Crate Kit. The YakGear basic crate kit features a crate, a double rod holder, accessory pouch, 3.3-pound grapnel anchor kit, anchor cleat and mounting hardware.  

Television fishing celebrity and two-time Bassmaster Classic Champ Hank Parker has become a kayak bass fishing aficionado. When he first started using a Hobie kayak, Parker wasn’t used to sitting and fishing from a lower position and closer to the water, so he had to make some adjustments to work lures properly. He suggests newcomers to kayak fishing just need to spend some time getting used to fishing at a different angle.  

“The boat itself probably only stands up off the water about 18 to 20 inches so when you are in the kayak you are up another 2 1/2 feet,” he says. “So you are 4 feet off the water instead of 6 or 6 1/2 feet (in a bass boat).”

Parker says there are some advantages to fishing closer to the water.  

“The wind doesn’t catch your line and move it because you are low to the water so I point my rod down and keep it low,” he says. Since he has his rod lower without any slack in his line, Parker can also generate a smoother and quicker hook set when fishing from a kayak than he can in a bass boat. 

Sitting closer to the water in a kayak also works to Parker’s advantage when he is throwing topwater lures in clear water. He believes his lower profile prevents spooking fish in the clear water. 

A stealthy approach is another advantage kayaks have over bass boats. Parker notes the MirageDrive on his Hobie kayak is much quieter than a trolling motor.  

“If you pedal really fast then the fish will hear you, but you can make the pedal noise non-existent if you just take short strokes,” Parker says. 

While bass boats remain the standard vessel for bass fishing at the Lake of the Ozarks, kayaks are developing a following from anglers wanting to catch bass from remote parts of the Lake.