OSAGE BEACH — When Bob Bueltmann pulled his boat into a cove behind his condo unit at Lake of the Ozarks one day this spring, he used an unusual fish finder to locate bass.
After cutting his motor, he was greeted by a worker leaning over the railing on the third floor. Studying the clear water below, the worker pointed and said, "There's a big bass hiding in those rocks. I've been watching him come in and out."
With that, Bueltmann hurriedly cast an olive-green bass jig with a plastic trailer to the rocky bank. As he lifted it slightly, he felt weight on the end of the line.
He whipped a hook set, then felt the line grow heavier.
The bass stayed down for a second, then came up and wallowed at the surface. It wasn't long, though, before Bueltmann, better known as Bassing Bob at Lake of the Ozarks, had the 3-pound largemouth in the boat.
Bueltmann and the worker laughed at their unlikely partnership, and the worker gave an instant replay.
"I could see that bass come out of the rocks and hit that lure," he said. "That was cool."
Bueltmann smiled and answered, "Now tell me where the rest of the bass are in this cove."
He was kidding, of course, and continued to work the rocky bank until it was time to move on.
The practice of having others point out the location of bass for you is legal under regulations of the Missouri Department of Conservation. And for Bueltmann, the day's events were just another reminder of the many ways bass can be caught at the big lake.
Bueltmann should know. Since moving to the lake from St. Louis several years ago, he has been on a quest.
He decided he couldn't retire when he was still in his 50s, so he sought a plan for something combining his two passions: bass fishing and running a small business.
He came up with it when he developed a multimedia website, BassingBob.com. With one click, visitors can access daily fishing reports, get tips from the experts, view videos, hear audio presentations, use interactive lure selectors for the type of conditions fishermen experience, and much more. He also is a big promoter of catch and release, and keeps fishermen up to date on the hottest lures.
Some of the information is free, additional info is only available through a paid subscription. Bueltmann charges $45 for annual memberships or $9.95 a month.
Looking for information about Truman, Stockton or Pomme de Terre? Forget it. Bueltmann has tunnel vision. He focuses solely on fishing at Lake of the Ozarks, and he figures he has a big enough audience to make it work.
"Lake of the Ozarks has always been one of the best bass lakes in the country, yet it's not always easy to get information about how the bass are being caught," Bueltmann said. "I used to have that problem myself. When I lived in St. Louis, I would come down to the lake two or three times a year and I always had trouble getting fresh information.
"That's a lot of why I came up with this idea — to give the average weekend fishermen somewhere to start so that they wouldn't have to waste half their trip trying to put something together."
The boss is the biggest researcher. He fishes five to six days a week, getting information for his daily reports. He doesn't inflate the action. If the fishing is bad, he'll tell you so.
Issuing a report for Thursday he said, "We had been catching bass off the long points. But they were tough to find today. We only had two keepers and two shorts."
Other experienced fishermen will weigh in, and tell about their experiences on other parts of the reservoir that day.
It has been almost a year since Bueltmann launched his website, and he has heard lots of positive feedback.
"I'm not going to get rich off this," Bueltmann said. "But I enjoy what I am doing.
"And I'll never run out of places to fish. Lake of the Ozarks has over 1,000 miles of shoreline and is 92 miles long. There are always new places to try and report about."