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Catching schooling bass at Lake of the Ozarks

By John Neporadny Jr.

Schooling bass show up just about anywhere during the summer at Lake of the Ozarks.

You can usually find them surfacing near some type of point, channel or other areas that are close to deep water. There doesn’t seem to be any particular time when these fish show up on the surface, so I always keep a rod rigged specifically for schooling bass.

If you notice schooling fish surface one day at 10 a.m., chances are they will come up the next day at the same time and location. That isn’t always true, but it’s usually a pretty good way to predict when schooling fish will surface.

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

When approaching schooling fish on the surface, get on the trolling motor as quickly as possible to get to the fish. If you run the big motor you will spook them off. Pay attention to which direction the bass are heading and try to get in front of them. You will do a lot better if you use your trolling motor as little as possible.

Tying two tube bats with 1/4-ounce jigheads on a rod is a great rig for schooling bass. Throw the double rig on 17- or 20-pound test line. The double tube rig is ideal for schooling bass because most of the time if you hook one fish than you’re going to catch two.

Tie the rig with a triangle swivel or a knot with two separate lines coming down from it. Keep the two lures about 8 or 10 inches apart.

Any shad patterns will work for your tube bait colors. In clear water, one of the best color combinations is clear/silver flake/black back. If the water is a little bit stained than try pearl/black back or even chartreuse/black back. When you start throwing this double rig, you might try two different colors to see which one the fish prefer. If they keep hitting one color, then put two tubes in that same color on the rig.

Sometimes big fish come to the top. However most of the time smaller bass chase baitfish on the surface while the bigger fish lurk underneath them waiting for an easy meal. When concentrating on the surfacing bass, use a fast retrieve while you crank and hop the lure. Make the retrieve as erratic as you can to imitate the action of the baitfish as it flees from the bass. If you let the rig fall a little deeper, you might catch some 3- and 4-pounders or even bigger fish hanging under the smaller bass.

Once the bass drop down, sometimes you can let you lure fall deeper and still catch some. Schooling fish are odd characters though, once they go down, they seem to totally quit biting. They are like a bunch of wolves attacking the shad. They get into a school and hunt together so if you stay on top of that school you can still catch them.

For information on lodging and other facilities at the Lake of the Ozarks or to receive a free vacation guide, call the Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-FUN-LAKE or visit the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitors Bureau web site at

For copies of John Neporadny’s THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Guide call 573/365-4296 or visit