Monday, May 13, 2024

Dam to Dam May 2024 (Unofficial)

I've been boating on The Lake of the Ozarks since I was a toddler with my parents, but I have never made the long trip up the Osage arm to Truman Dam and back. An official Dam to Dam run is the full round trip from Bagnell Dam to Truman Dam and back in a single day. This is roughly 188 miles. Our trip on this day was only from Truman to Bagnell, but it was still epic.

My son purchased a new-to-me pontoon boat from Angler's Port Marine in Warsaw, and we launched from Drake Harbor in Warsaw at the 91-92 mile marker. First, a quick plug for Angler's Port. Everyone was great to work with and did everything they could to help make our trip home a successful one. We used Navionics for navigation at their suggestion and it worked great. Second, Warsaw's launch facilities at Drake Harbor are excellent and the town itself looks great. I haven't been in this area in I don't know how long, but very happy to see it thriving.

So we launched, fired up the navigation app and got underway. Saturday May 11th was a beautiful day to be on the water! However, Truman was dumping heavily (about 50,000 cfs) with The Lake levels at 658.11 and outflow matching Truman. With all this flow, there was a good amount of debris in the water, whole trees in fact. Surprisingly, while Lake depth was good, we still had to follow the main channel, which unlike established navigable rivers, does not have channel markers. This is where your navigation app with depth information is important. At this stage of The Lake, the Osage Arm is basically a river, with characteristics resembling it's pre-Bagnell Dam days. In low water situations, there are some areas that may be impassable. This is fishing country, and with a 28ft pontoon, you need something like Navionics with accurate depth and channel information to keep from grounding. I know folks run up in go-fast boats, but now that I've been on that section, I can say that the video of the 40ft Outer Limits making that run at 100mph, would be nail biting to watch now (video no longer available?).

89-ish mile marker?

Gas is not particularly hard to find, your first opportunity from Truman is the Oar House at the 82mm. Buck Naked at the 77mm. Hiawatha Beach Resort at the 67mm and Holiday Hills Marina at the 68mm. Of these four I can only confirm the Oar House was serving up gas. We stopped at Rebel Harbor Marina at the 60mm. A s-l-o-w idle into the area as the water depth in the cove was often only two feet deep. We were told by locals that a week ago, it would have been impossible to get the big pontoon in there. Thanks to the helpful staff, we gassed up and were on our way again.

Rebel Harbor looking across the channel

Beyond the 60mm, things start looking more and more like The Lake of the Ozarks, and the need to run the channel becomes not as critical as depth more reliably runs 20-45ft deep. Further downriver, around the 47mm you begin to see some of the more popular tourist spots, like Big Dick's Halfway Inn, Captain Ron's at the Hurricane Deck bridge and on into the confluence of the Osage and Niangua arms at the 31mm.

We were going to just park the boat at our condo at Grand Glaize, but the family wanted to take their new boat for a ride so we brought it all the way to the 8mm. Being so close, we just had to finish it off at Bagnell to make the claim.  Dam to Dam.

All in all it was a great trip and I highly recommend the run if you can!