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Locals, visitors enjoy cool start of summer

Lake of the Ozarks' vast outdoor playground is a family affair

Joel Isenburg and Valerie Berry, of Des Moines, Ia., lounge by the water before setting up their tent during Memorial Day Weekend at central Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks State Park.

Joel Isenburg and Valerie Berry, of Des Moines, Ia., lounge by the water before setting up their tent during Memorial Day Weekend at central Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks State Park. Photo by Samantha Edmondson.

Lebanon residents Debra Perry and Pam Knapp are joined at the hip like sisters.

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Lebanon, Mo., residents and cousins Debra Perry, left, and Pam Knapp enjoy fishing from the Lake of the Ozarks docks Friday near Ha Ha Tonka Spring at Camdenton, Mo.

“We both grew up with all brothers in our family, so we needed each other,” Perry said with a laugh about her cousin. “We are very close.”

Perry and Knapp really enjoy spending time together at Lake of the Ozarks during the summer season. They often bring their families and sometimes their brothers, too, to the Linn Creek Campground for a fun weekend at the central Missouri lake. However, for Memorial Day Weekend, the cousins and their families enjoyed staying and visiting Perry’s brother at his Lake home.

“We also love to come up and fish. We typically fish right by the campground. But this holiday weekend we are fishing here,” Perry said, while sitting on the public dock at the Ha Ha Tonka Spring access within the state park in Camdenton. Knapp wasn’t too far down the dock, also awaiting a bite to her fishing line.

“We really enjoy it here, and it is nice to come up, fish, visit with family and relax for the holiday weekend,” Perry added.

Perry and Knapp join many other visitors to the Lake over Memorial Day Weekend, and also joined in their love of fishing and camping. With beautiful weather on Friday, visitors and residents pitched up a tent or parked an RV in many of the Lake’s campgrounds and at the ones both in Lake of the Ozarks and Ha Ha Tonka state parks.

Whether it was a family affair or just friends or couples with their pets enjoying the Lake’s vast outdoor playground, visitors soaked up the sun and watched as fellow tourists and residents played out on the water in their roundabouts, jet skis, pontoons or bass boats.

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Joe and Annie Lochirco, of Etterville, Mo., brought their two boys John Rodrigo and Pete Diaz for a relaxing camping trip at the Lake of the Ozarks State Park over Memorial Day Weekend.

For opening weekend, camping, fishing and water activities seemed to be one of the top highlights for visitors and residents, along with taking in shopping, dining and attraction activities, as well.

Bill Cassidy, Osage Beach Bait & Tackle owner, said visiting fishermen do not have to use a boat or rent one either. At Lake of the Ozarks, there are more than six public access points that are great for bank and dock fishing.

The Missouri Department of Conservation public accesses are: Bagnell Dam (below Bagnell Dam of Osage River Bridge Road); Coffman Beach Access (off Route Y in Rocky Mount); Gravois Mills (off north Highway 5 in downtown Gravois Mills); new Wigwam School Access (at 66.2 mile marker of Osage Arm, off Highway 135 north and Ivy Lake Road); Shawnee Public Access (near Sunrise Beach off Route TT near Ozark Bar-B-Q); Brown Bend Access (outside of Climax Springs off Highway 7 to Route DD, Route FF and FF-14); and Larry R. Gale (off Route A in Roach). Plus, there are two public accesses in Lake of the Ozarks State Park near Public Beaches No. 1 and 2, plus public access near the spring at Ha Ha Tonka State Park in Camdenton. For more information about the various Lake of the Ozarks public accesses, visit mdc.mo.gov/fishing/places-fish or www.mostateparks.com.

“There are so many great public access points here on the Lake that both visitors and residents use year-round,” Cassidy said. “I particularly love the Lake Ozark access near the 2-mile marker on the main channel. My buddies and I go up there weekly from November on through the winter to fish. It is small, with only enough spots for 10 boats to launch, but it is a gem of a fishing destination.”

Cassidy said he personally likes Coffman Beach in Rocky Mount and the Shawnee Bend access at the 11 mile marker and near Ozark Bar-B-Q.

“They all have great facilities on site and for those who don’t have a boat, many have docks for people to catch some great fish throughout the season, several with handicap accessibility,” he added. “It is worth checking out the public access points to go fishing or just enjoy the waters of the Lake.”

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