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EliteAnglr offering quality apparel for angling lifestyle

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EliteAnglr offering quality apparel for angling lifestyle

A new apparel company is focused on providing quality products to anglers and giving back to the fishing community.
Partners Al McCulloch, marketing and media specialist for Midwest Fish Tournaments, and Donny Wilson, a former graphic designer with B.A.S.S., have created EliteAnglr, a fishing brand that promotes the lifestyle of anglers who need comfortable and dependable clothing for a long day on the water.

“Our whole idea is when that alarm goes off at 4:30 in the morning and you put on that EliteAnglr clothing you have a quality product that is comfortable and that you can stand behind our logo with confidence,” McCulloch said.

McCulloch believes they have created an EliteAnglr brand that “pops” and will be attractive to the growing youth movement and the adult market. “We want something that somebody from 10 years old to 70 years old would want to wear with pride,” he said.

EliteAnglr’s introductory line of apparel includes three types of ball caps, a beanie, two short sleeve shirt designs, two long sleeve shirt designs and two hoodie designs. “We will have some patterns that will change up the industry with different fabrics, sun protection (UV protection rating of 50) and water dispersion,” McCulloch said. “As we grow we will be offering new fabrics and new lines that will key in on both the adult and youth side of angling. We are not going to cut any corners. We want to put a quality product out there that will be delivered in a timely manner.”
Promoting fishing and supporting charities are also major goals of the new company. “We want a brand that people will get behind,” McCulloch said. “It’s a lifestyle with EliteAnglr. Be the best in all things you do, not just angling.”

The company’s donations to charities will depend on the location of most of its buyers. “With our analytics we are able to find out what region, areas or cities are doing a lot of the ordering and are our fan base,” McCulloch said. “So what we plan on doing is a portion of our sales will be giving back to that local area.” McCulloch noted if the company generated $10,000 in sales from one city, then EliteAnglr would present a check for a percentage of those sales to a city official as a donation to a food pantry or other local charity.

EliteAnglr also plans on sponsoring conservation efforts by offering discounts on apparel for bass clubs or individual anglers who participate in conservation programs such as cleaning up waterways or better fish care. McCulloch said the company will also emphasize educating bass clubs, smaller tournament circuits and charity tournament organizers about the protocol for handling and releasing fish during weigh-ins.
Apparel orders may be made by visiting EliteAnglr’s web site, www.eliteanglr.com, which is also connected to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Winter Crappie at Lake of the Ozarks

Casting for Lake of the Ozarks Winter Crappie

By John Neporadny Jr.

As long as the Lake of the Ozarks remains ice-free, savvy anglers know they can catch a mess of crappies in the dead of winter.

Even though the cold water and frigid weather make crappies lethargic at times, the fish still have to eat so Lake of the Ozarks anglers who brave the cold and employ the right tactics can still enjoy some wintertime action for these popular panfish. During the dead of winter, crappie can be found suspended over brush piles in the backs of creek coves or hugging the bottom on main lake bluffs.

With a few alterations, the same techniques that trigger strikes in other seasons also produce crappie during winter.

Lake of the Ozarks guide Terry Blankenship casts jigs to brush piles to catch crappie year-round, but in the wintertime he makes a slight adjustment to his presentation. “I get a little closer to the piles so when I cast to them my jig’s fall rate is a lot slower,” he says.

Blankenship keys on brush piles 15 to 30 feet deep and throws his jigs past the cover. He retrieves his lure above the brush on the first couple of casts to pick off the most aggressive fish. “If the fish are on top of the brush or above it those fish are active and they are going to bite,” he says.

Letting his jig fall into the brush also produces for Blankenship. “Any time you can wiggle that jig around in that brush and then it just pops loose a little bit it creates a reaction strike,” says Blankenship, who opts for a 1/16-ounce jighead and Bobby Garland Baby Shad for his brush pile tactics.

Since a suspending stickbait best resembles a crappie’s favorite wintertime meal, local angler Wayne Fitzpatrick opts for this shad imitator to work over the top of brush piles at Lake of the Ozarks.

Fitzpatrick looks for the shady sides of docks along 45-degree banks in the backs of coves to catch suspended wintertime crappies. “You also have to have shad around,” he says. “If you don’t have any shad you won’t find any crappies. I have had some of my better days when the sun is shining and there is a little bit of breeze.”

A clown color LuckyCraft Pointer works best for Fitzpatrick for twitching it above schools of suspending crappies. “One of the little secrets is I take lead wire and wrap it around the front hook so the bait will fall real, real slow,” Fitzpatrick says. “If you know crappies are there just let that stickbait sit and fall.” Winter crappies suspended over the brush have a hard time resisting such an easy target.

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

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 funlake.com.

Copies of John Neporadny’s book, “THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Guide” are
available by calling 573/365-4296 or visiting the web site www.jnoutdoors.com.

Bass Fishing Lake of the Ozarks in November

November Hot Spot for Lake of the Ozarks Bass

By John Neporadny Jr.

Lake of the Ozarks bass in November are on the move from the shallow foraging areas to their deep wintertime haunts. During their migration bass seek out some fast food spots where they can chow down on baitfish.

These fast food spots are usually some type of cover found throughout the lake. Bass use the cover as rest stops and ambush points to nab a quick meal before heading out to their winter homes. Savvy bass anglers at the lake look for these hotspots to pinpoint migrating bass during late fall/early winter.

Rocks are one of the best hotspots for finding bass in November at the Lake of the Ozarks.

Baitfish and bass are both attracted to the warmth of the rocks that absorb and retain the sun’s heat even on cold November days.

Former Bass Fishing League (BFL) All American champion Marcus Sykora looks for wind-blown rocky banks in November because he knows bass will be feeding heavily on baitfish there. “I actually like to fish hard transitions where the bank goes from big rock to little rocks or some sort of continuous blend of some ledge rock, gravel and some good size rock in it,” he said.

Waking a 1/2-ounce spinnerbait with tandem willowleaf blades is Sykora’s most productive tactic for catching bass on the rocks. “Waking a spinnerbait mimics a lot of the things bass are feeding on in the rocks and it causes not only a hunger strike but also a reaction strike,” Sykora said. “I also like to (wake spinnerbaits) a lot because it is a great way to cover water.”

The tournament competitor positions his boat over 12 to 20 feet of water and points the boat’s nose at a 30- to 45-degree angle to the bank. By presenting his lure at that angle, Sykora can keep the spinnerbait in the strike zone longer. He retrieves the spinnerbait fast enough so its blades bulge the water but don’t break the surface.

Sykora suggests always paying attention to where the sun rises and sun sets when fishing the lake in November.

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

Even though the water is cooling down and the sun is providing warmth throughout the day, bass on the shady banks bite better than fish on the sunny shores. “Sometimes on those bright bluebird sky days it is really tough to catch bass,” Sykora said. “So that eastern bank in the morning is going to get a little more shade there throughout the day than on that western bank. So a lot of times in the morning I will run those east/southeast banks because they have shade.”

On sunny afternoons, Sykora switches to the west/southwest banks because those banks have more shade then.

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 funlake.com.

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

Think Big to Win Lake of the Ozarks Big Bass Bash

Ngy thinks big to win Lake of the Ozarks Fall Big Bass Bash

Osage Beach, Mo.—Throwing a big swimbait during the Lake of the Ozarks Big Bass Bash Oct. 6-7 resulted in a $100,000 reward for California angler Oliver Ngy.

The 36-year-old angler from La Puente, Calif., weighed in a 6.82-pound largemouth bass to win the $100,000 Big Bass Bash grand prize. He topped a field of 3,000 anglers including second-place finisher Travis Meyer who weighed in a 6.81-pound largemouth.

Ngy happened to be in the Midwest, and when told by a friend that the Bash was going on, he decided to jump in and take his shot at the $100,000 bass. The California angler had never fished Lake of the Ozarks before and when Ngy arrived at the lake he realized he had the wrong mapping package in his electronics. “I literally had to go in there blind for the most part and just figure out how to catch them,” Ngy said. Ngy also admitted he had to find his “groove and get back into the swing of things pretty quickly” after taking a break from bass fishing and spending the last five months saltwater fishing back home.

Ngy’s strategy for the tournament was to play to his strong suit and throw a West Coast-style magnum-sized swimbait. He knew if he worked a Megabass I-Slide 262T swimbait both days he would catch bass worth weighing in.

The first day Ngy keyed on docks and main lake structure with his 10-inch swimbait. The strategy produced a 4.21-pound bass that failed to win him any money.

The next morning sunny skies and calm weather made it difficult for Ngy to trigger strikes with his swimbait, but then a storm started brewing around 11:30 a.m. and Ngy felt it was time for a big bite.

While fishing closer to the weigh-in station at Alhonna Resort, Ngy targeted an open rocky bank and hooked the fish that would make him $100,000 richer. He immediately headed to the weigh-in station and discovered he had taken the lead with his 6.82-pounder.

After taking a polygraph test, Ngy ran back out in a “pretty gnarly squall” and just as he was shutting down his boat Ngy had a brush with disaster as lightning struck a nearby point causing his electronics to flicker. Undeterred by the close call, Ngy continued fishing but his luck ran out as he finished the day with two quality bass jumping off his swimbait including one he estimated was bigger than his winning fish.

The Fall Big Bass Bash had a total payout of more than $250,000 and paid out 280 places in the bi-hourly weigh-in sessions. Winning the $1,000 Ladies Division bonus money were Dana Gatton and Lauri Loop with 5.06-pound bass.

The Bash also features a kids division with prizes awarded to the top finishers. “We have a lot of kids 12 years old and under entered,” Tournament Director Randy Terrell said.

A portion of the proceeds from the event are also donated to various charities each year. “The Concord Village Lions Club does the food for us every year so we give them about $18,000, which they give back to charity,” Terrell said.

The Big Bass Bash is also a big boost to the host community. Terrell believes the statistics for his event are comparable to an FLW report that states FLW competitors spend about $500 per person while at one of their tournaments. “I believe our guys who come (to the Big Bass Bash) spend at least that,” he said. “Some of them come days ahead of time and some of them bring the wife and kids with them and they all spend money. So the arithmetic on the (economic) impact is in the millions for the area.”

The Big Bass Bash will be held at the following locations in 2019: Pickwick Lake, March 16-17; Lake of the Ozarks, April 27-28; Grand Lake, June 8-9; and Lake of the Ozarks, Oct. 5-6.

For more information about the Big Bass Bash, visit midwestfishingtournaments.com

Catch Fall Crappie at Lake of the Ozarks

Tackling turnover to catch Lake of the Ozarks fall crappie

By John Neporadny Jr.

The bane of bass anglers in the fall can also lead to cases of anxiety for crappie anglers when cooler weather arrives at Lake of the Ozarks.

Bass anglers frequently use the fall turnover as an excuse for their tough day on the water and crappie anglers can do the same because the turnover has the same numbing effect on crappie as it does on bass. However savvy crappie anglers at Lake of the Ozarks know fish will still bite when a lake is turning over.

Lake of the Ozarks guide Terry Blankenship heads for the shallows when the fall turnover occurs on his home lake. “You can catch some big fish during that turnover too,” he says. “The bigger fish seem to be more adapted to that water change and adjust better.”

When Lake of the Ozarks turns over, Blankenship heads to the backs of coves and creeks where shad have migrated to the cooler water. “As the baitfish go the game fish go after them,” he says.

Fall Crappie Lake of the Ozarks

Blankenship looks for any laydowns or submerged logs near the bank where crappie hold close to the cover. He also targets shallow docks. “A lot of times you can find those fish tight to the docks right up underneath them,” he says.

When keying on the shallow wood, Blankenship prefers casting to the cover with a jig-and-bobber rig. He favors an egg-shaped float with about a 3/4-inch diameter. “I try not to get one too big because I don’t want the fish to have to fight that bobber,” he said. The guide also likes that size bobber because it is easier to cast than smaller floats.

Blankenship’s favorite lures for bobber fishing are Bobby Garland Baby Shads, Baby Shad Swim’Rs and 3-inch Slab Slay’Rs in blue ice or bright colors (white/chartreuse, pink/chartreuse, red/chartreuse or yellow). He attaches his soft plastics to a 1/16-ounce jighead most of the time but will downscale to a 1/32-oucne jighead for fishing in ultra-shallow water.

The local guide suggests using little or no movement for the jig-and-bobber presentation. “It is typical to move it a bit if you have a feeling fish are in that cover sometimes it doesn’t hurt to let it sit for a little bit because that fish has the bait in its strike zone but it is just not that active. So the lure is just sitting there and a lot of times the fish just can’t stand it so it will go ahead and hit the jig.”

When targeting shallow docks Blankenship prefers shooting his lures to catch crappie hanging under the dock’s floatation. His standard dock shooting setup for turnover crappie is a 3-inch Slab Slay’R on a 1/16-ounce jighead. He favors the Slab Slay’R because it skips well under the dock and is a larger bait that draws strikes from bigger fish.

While shooting a dock Blankenship immediately starts retrieving his lure after it stops skipping because he knows crappie will be closer to the floatation than the bottom. He usually retrieves his jig anywhere from near the surface to about 6 feet deep.

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 funlake.com.

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

Lake of the Ozarks Bass in September

Catching Lake of the Ozarks bass in September

By John Neporadny Jr.

Lake of the Ozarks bass anglers need to “go with the flow” to get in on the best fishing action during September.

By September, the summer heat has generated bath-water temperatures and depleted oxygen levels in the shallows of lakes and ponds throughout the state. These conditions make for some tough fishing during the month, but anglers can still catch plenty of fish at Lake of the Ozarks by seeking waters with plenty of current. When fishing the headwaters of the lake, bass anglers will discover the current in these waters create a cool, oxygen-rich environment that makes bass more aggressive feeders. So Lake of the Ozarks anglers should “go with the flow” for the best bass action at the lake during early fall.

When September arrives, veteran tournament angler Mike Malone starts running up the Osage arm of the lake to catch bass.

“Those fish are moving at that time and the baitfish are moving and bass get predominantly on those mud flats (on the upper Osage arm),” he says. “If you can figure out what area of that upper reach is on you are going to catch a bunch.”

The Lake Ozark angler keys on the main lake flats rather than back in the creeks because current is more predominant there. “There is usually a two- to three-hour window where they turn on the water (at Truman Dam),” Malone says. “As long as there is movement to the water, those fish get positioned and are very predictable as to where they are going to be and how to catch them.”

Malone usually finds bass around boat docks where the fish remain less than 4 feet deep. “I have a milk run where I might hit 30 to 40 docks up there starting at about Proctor Creek all the way up to the 88-mile marker,” he says. “Sometimes the fish are on the outside ends of the docks. If they are not running current the fish might be on the backs of the docks.”

Malone’s favorite lures for throwing around the docks include a black/red flake flipping tube, black/chartreuse jig with blue plastic chunk, a 1/2-ounce white/chartreuse spinnerbait and black/chartreuse wake bait.

Anglers unfamiliar with this section need to be cautious while navigating the upper lake because it contains lots of shallow mud flats on the main lake and in coves. “It’s not an area where you want to go fast if you don’t know where you are going,” Malone says. He recommends using good electronics and mapping to navigate safely in this section of the lake.

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 funlake.com.

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

Bryan Labelle wins Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Eastern Open at Lake Champlain

August 4, 2018

Labelle Edges Cippoletti To Claim Bassmaster Open Victory On Champlain

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — Bryan Labelle of Hinesburg, Vt., began today’s final round of competition at the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Eastern Open No. 3 at Lake Champlain with the firm belief that he could catch 18 to 19 pounds.

He felt that’s what he needed to hold off second-place Bobby Lane. Turns out the fishing was tough across the board today, and Labelle caught just 15-8, which was the sixth heaviest limit among the final Top 12 anglers. Still, it was enough to best second-place Buddy Cippoletti of Wading River, N.Y., by 2-3 and deliver Labelle the first significant win of his career.

Cipoletti weighed a 17-10 limit, while Lakeland, Fla., pro Bobby Lane, who began the day in second place, weighed just 14-2 and finished third. Only half of the final 12 pros bested the 15-pound mark.

“I’m super excited, obviously — I didn’t think I had it,” Labelle said. “It was my worst day ever on Champlain. I thought I had 12 1/2 or maybe 12 3/4 pounds. I didn’t realize I had 15.

“This is my first big win. I was real nervous in line. Bobby (Lane) made it pretty hard on me. He was going through the weights back and forth — what we needed. For me, I think the most important thing was sticking to my game plan. I made a big mistake today, trying to target smallmouth to start. I was second-guessing myself all day, but once I changed to largemouth, I stuck with that all day.”

Labelle noted he has thousands of waypoints on the lake. He runned and gunned, stopping and dropping for about 10 minutes at each spot in search of largemouth. He weighed four largemouth and one smallmouth today.

Labelle’s key bait was a 1/2-ounce Dirty Jigs Scott Canterbury Flipping Jig, tipped with a Zoom Flippin’ Blue trailer. He was flipping and pitching grass areas in Mississquoi Bay, at the north end of the lake.

Cippoletti spent his tournament fishing largemouth on rock bottoms in Ticonderoga. He said he had an area to himself that was “loaded with fish.”

“I started this morning on what I thought was my ‘A’ stuff, but it didn’t pan out, so I made some adjustments and quickly caught 40 bass before 8:30. I worked through numbers to get a good, foundational limit, then culled throughout the day to improve it.

“I hate to say I’m disappointed, but I am disappointed,” Cippoletti added. “I had the goal of catching at least 19 at a place I call home (Champlain). I thought I did that today, but they weighed a little less than I thought. But just to be in a position where I can chase down the leader when I’m 4 or 5 pounds back was a thrill. My adrenaline’s pumping. It’s an amazing feeling.”

Cippoletti had been throwing a 3/4-ounce Bassman Spinnerbait and a 3/4-ounce Z-Man Original Chatterbait, but today he switched to an Outkast 5/8-ounce Stealth Feider jig in Magic Craw, tipped with a Missile Baits D Bomb in Wicked Craw, which he trimmed down in his hotel room last night to match the size of the bluegill he saw. He noted that the bluegill had a small blue dot on their tails, which matched the D Bomb.

Lane said of his finish: “It’s as frustrating as it gets. I needed 16-9 and I had 14-2. I lost a lot of key fish this week, but the way I was fishing, that happens and it just wasn’t meant to be. Champlain is phenomenal though. You can target any species you want. What a great week it was.”

Lane primarily flipped a Berkley MaxScent The General in black/blue and a Bobby Lane Signature Series jig.

Austin Bonjour of Templeton, Calif., won the co-angler division with a three-day total of 32-7.

The Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the tournament was awarded to Carl Jocumsen for a 6-5 largemouth on the pro side worth $750. In the co-angler division, Jason Betourney won the Phoenix Boats Big Bass worth $250 with a 5-10 bass.

Lane won the Power-Pole Captain’s Cash Award of $500 for being the highest-placing angler who is registered and eligible and uses a client-approved product on his boat.

The Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau and the City of Plattsburgh hosted the event.

Lake of the Ozarks Crappie Fishing

Lake of the Ozarks’ Niangua arm popular spot for crappie anglers

By John Neporadny Jr.

It’s farther away from the popular tournament site at Lake of the Ozarks State Park PB2 access so the Niangua arm seems to experience less fishing pressure from bass anglers. However, the arm receives plenty of traffic—especially in the spring–from crappie anglers, who launch their boats at the Larry R. Gale Conservation Access.

The winding Niangua arm resembles a large river more than a reservoir since it has few major coves and a narrow main channel for most of its length. No major creeks run into the Niangua, but it is fed by another large tributary, the Little Niangua River.

Guy Winters lives on the Niangua arm and has fished for crappie on Lake of the Ozarks for more than 20 years. He also has conducted seminars on crappie fishing at boat shows throughout the Midwest.

Vertical jigging the brush piles and big rocks along the bluffs and channel breaks is Winters’ best tactic for catching wintertime crappie on the Niangua. The fish will move up to 15 feet deep if the barometer has been steady, but will drop to the bottom 18 to 25 feet if the weather turns nasty. Winters relies on Laker Nailer tubes and Curlybugs (red-and-white or smoke-and-pearl) attached to 4-pound test line.

During the prespawn stage (55- to 60-degree water) crappie move up to brush piles 10 to 12 feet deep and progressively move shallower as the water continues to warm. Winters targets the north banks, which warm up quicker, and looks for chunk rocks. He switches to a 1/16-ounce jighead and Curlybug that he retrieves at a slow pace. If the water is muddy, Winters opts for a chartreuse or chartreuse-and-pearl Curlybug, but if the water is clear, he selects the smoke-and-pearl model.

“The Niangua is a shallower arm of the lake so consequentially it warms up quicker and cools down quicker and the timing is different there,” suggests Winters. “The fish will spawn earlier because the water warms up faster, and they will move toward deep water earlier in the fall of the year than they do the rest of the lake.”

The spawn on this arm usually occurs the last week of April or the first week of May when the water temperature is 64 to 65 degrees. Winters uses a 1/16-ounce Curlybug and 8-pound test line so the lure will fall slowly in the shallows. Some fish will stay in the brush piles 10 feet deep while others move 4 to 5 feet deep or as shallow as 18 inches if the water is dingy. “The lake has been clearing up over the years so you might have to fish in 6 to 8 feet of water,” advises Winters.

After the spawn, Winters follows crappie along the same migration route the fish used during the prespawn. If the wind is blowing he can catch crappie all day on a Curlybug and 6-pound line, but on sunny calm days, the best action is early in the morning and late evening.

Catching crappie can be tough during the summer; so Winters suggests fishing off of docks with lights at night. The best docks sit over a least 20 feet of water and have plenty of brush underneath. A light shining into the water attracts baitfish and crappie.

“The bigger fish are on the outer perimeter of the light almost in the shade of it,” discloses Winters. “There is also a bottom perimeter of light because it only penetrates so deep. You catch a lot of little fish in the light but a lot of times I use an 1/8-ounce jighead to get it down through the smaller fish and work the outer perimeter to catch bigger crappie.” His favorite jig colors for night fishing include chartreuse, black-and-chartreuse or shad patterns.

A fall feeding binge usually occurs for about two weeks when the fish move as shallow as 3 feet. This feeding spree can run any time from October to December depending on the weather. A drop in the water temperature into the low 50s triggers this action, and it usually ends when the water dips below 42 degrees. Winters catches these active fish on the same lures he uses in the springtime.

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

“The fall fishing is the best on the Niangua,” hints Winters. “There is less competition then, and you are going to catch bigger fish than you do during the spawn because the females feed more in the fall than they do in the spring.”

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 funlake.com.

Copies of John Neporadny’s book, “THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Guide” are
available by calling 573/365-4296 or visiting the web site www.jnoutdoors.com.

Chad Brauer Explains How to Catch Lake of the Ozarks Bass

Unorthodox Retrieves For Lake of the Ozarks bass

By John Neporadny Jr.

Every Lake of the Ozarks angler knows the best way to retrieve a Texas-rigged plastic worm is to lift and drop it. They also realize a jig produces best with a slow hop.

Stereotype retrieves have developed for standard bass lures throughout the years, but a savvy angler keeps an open mind while using these old reliables. While conventional wisdom calls for the most popular bass lures to be presented in a certain fashion, a Lake of the Ozarks pro has turned an old standby into a more versatile bait by experimenting with unorthodox retrieves.

Former B.A.S.S. titleholder Chad Brauer retrieves a jig at about any imaginable speed to catch a bass. On one end of the spectrum, he employs a high-speed retrieve for shallow bass and on the other extreme, the Osage Beach, MO, angler slowly drags the lure on the bottom for deeper fish.

His high-speed presentation propels the jig faster than the normal swimming retrieve Brauer employs while targeting shallow logs and docks in the fall. “I’m almost working it as fast as a spinnerbait,” says Brauer, who tries to keep the lure near the surface. “But I’m still trying to keep a pumping motion and giving the jig a little bit of action.”

Sometimes Brauer kills the action of the lure after pulling it over a branch. The jig expert lets the lure fall next to the cover and then jerks it a couple of times to create the erratic action of a fleeing baitfish. He claims this retrieve works especially well for him during times of heavy fishing pressure.

Since the retrieve imitates a fleeing baitfish, Brauer selects jig colors resembling shad. His favorite lure for this high-speed tactic is a one-fourth to three-eighths ounce Strike King Denny Brauer Design Pro-Model jig in white or chartreuse-and-white. In most situations, he tips the jig with a large white pork chunk which he believes gives the lure a bigger profile and more buoyancy than plastic trailers. The local pro also occasionally switches to a twin-tail plastic grub as a jig trailer to increase the lure’s action.

Dancing a jig around lay-downs and Lake of the Ozarks docks requires heavy tackle so Brauer uses thick line and a flipping stick. When retrieving the jig in clear water, Brauer uses 20-pound test line, but most of the time he ties his lure on 25-pound test. Brauer uses the same high-speed reel (6.3:1 gear ratio) for both fast and slow jig presentations. “I just feel like you can mentally slow yourself down with a fast reel but you can only physically crank so fast with a slow reel,” he says.

Crawling a jig along the bottom is Brauer’s slowest retrieve. Similar to dragging a Carolina rig, this presentation keeps the jig in constant contact with the bottom. “It seems to work real well in the early spring and in the summertime where the fish are a little bit deeper, not quite as active and are strictly feeding on crawfish,” says Brauer.

Keeping his rod tip parallel to the water, Brauer steadily reels in the jig rather than employing the rod-sweeping retrieve frequently used for Carolina rigs. “That keeps me in contact with the bait and the bottom all the time and I can still accomplish the same stop- and-go retrieve (of a Carolina-rig presentation),” says Brauer.

The Lake of the Ozarks angler opts for a one-half to three-quarter ounce Strike King Denny Brauer Design Pro-Model Jig for this bottom-banging tactic. Since this is mainly a clear-water tactic, Brauer selects natural hues such as watermelon, green pumpkin and chameleon crawfish for both his jig and trailer. He picks a pork frog for his trailer in the early spring and switches to a twin-tail plastic grub during the summer. His tackle for this tactic consists of a 7-foot rod and baitcast reel spooled with 15- to 17-pound test line. In ultra-clear water situations he scales down to 10- to 12-pound line.

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 funlake.com.

Copies of John Neporadny’s book, “THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Guide” are
available by calling 573/365-4296 or visiting the web site www.jnoutdoors.com.

Reprinted with permission from Bassmaster Magazine.

Lake of the Ozarks Free Fishing Seminars

Local experts share knowledge every Monday

Learn from local experts how to approach fishing Lake of the Ozarks from boat, bank or dock.

Experts share lake conditions, hottest techniques, patterns and more.

All anglers welcome…

Lake of the Ozarks free fishing seminars