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Lake of the Ozarks Spawning Bass

Catching Spawning Bass Around Lake of the Ozarks Docks

by John Neporadny Jr.

Boat docks become a haven for black bass in the spring when it’s time for them to spawn at the Lake of the Ozarks. While fishing with former Lake of the Ozarks guide Jack Peischl years ago, he showed me a few tricks for taking spawning bass from these havens.

“One of the things a lot of people don’t realize on the Lake of the Ozarks is that during this time of year bass get back in any places where they have a lot of protection, so when they spawn their eggs don’t get washed away by the boat wakes or the wind,” says Jack Pieschl of Sunrise Beach, Mo. Some fish will be scattered on any available cover they find along the bank, but the biggest fish seek the best protection. “It seems like the big ones are smarter,” Pieschl says. “They know that docks offer the best protection of anything, so they’ll get back in behind the docks where the catwalk attaches to the dock and in the shady, flat secluded areas where you can hardly get to the fish.”

Since bass have plenty of hiding places among the lake’s myriad docks, finding the choice spawning banks is the key to catching these nesting bass. Pieschl looks for docks in the first or second pea gravel-pockets coming from the main channel back into a feeder creek. He avoids coves that have heavy water flow, and targets, quiet narrow pockets where maneuvering a jet ski or pleasure boat would be difficult. “Almost every pocket will have one side that is pretty steep and the other side will be a little flatter,” Pieschl notes. He concentrates on docks along the deeper side of the pocket, which is usually where the biggest fish build their nests. “Bigger bass tend to stay on the deeper side,” Pieschl says.Since he prefers clear water for locating bass on the nest, Pieschl favors the coves and pockets close to his home in the Shawnee Bend and Horseshoe Bend areas on the lake. Other good clear-water sections to try Pieschl’s techniques are the Gravois arm and the North Shore area.

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

In the early stages of the spawn, bass are busy building their nests so they are susceptible to bottom-bumping lures, such as jigs and plastic craws, tube baits and plastic lizards. One of Pieschl’s favoritie ways to catch these fish is to throw a 7-inch plastic lizard in either pumpkinseed or pumpkinseed with a chartreuse tail into the bass’ nest. If a fish ignores the lure after it settles in the nest, Pieschl starts tapping the butt end of his casting rod to make the lure quiver. Keeping the lure quivering in the nest for a couple of minutes tends to aggravate the bass into hitting the lizard.

Pieschl often has to fish in close quarters behind docks, so he selectsa 5 1/2-foot rod with a fast tip that allows him to skip his bait under the dock cables. When flipping behind the docks, he relies on a 6 1/2- to 7 1/2-foot heavy-action rod that has enough backbone to pull the fish away from the dock’s cables and other obstacles. He uses 8-pound test line for skipping his lures and 10- to 12-pound test for pitching and flipping.

When the fish are guarding the nest or roaming around it later in the spawn, Pieschl switches to a suspending stickbait that he jerks behind the docks. This technique is especially effective for bigger bass that spawn behind the deeper docks. ‘The bigger bass want to spawn on the back of docks where the water is at least 3 or 4 feet deep,” Pieschl says. Sight fishing can be difficult in this situation due to the shadows of the docks and a bottom-bumping lure tends to blend in with the bottom when it sinks 3 to 4 feet deep. By using the stickbait, Pieschl can see the lure during his whole presentation and the fish will move off the nest to take a swipe at the flashing bait. “Those are fish that a lot of people don’t fool with,” says Pieschl. “When they sight fish here, they spend a great deal of time fishing for the bass that are easiest to see.”

Pieschl moves in behind the docks and pitches his stickbait over the cables and under the catwalks to the bass lurking in the shadows. “It’s very important that you can cast exactly where you want the bait to land,” he says. An errant cast could wrap your lure around a cable or catwalk. Pieschl prefers for the lure to splash when it hits the water, which attracts the bass’ attention.

His technique works best on calm, sunny days because the fish holdtighter to the docks then. Bass tend to roam more on cloudy days. Pieschl selects a medium-diver suspending stickbait with chrome sides for sunny days and a gold-bodied stickbait for cloudy weather. After pitching behind the dock, Pieschl pulls the stickbait with his rod tip down, which causes the lure to dive about 1 foot. He tries to bounces the lure up and down in the same spot on a slack line. Pulling the lure too hard causes the stickbait to move too far towards him and away from the fish. The stickbait hovering in one place resembles a bluegill darting around the nest, which triggers the bass into attacking this intruder. “Bass are reluctant to chase things very far during this time,” Pieschl says. “But if they are behind those docks, they are on the nests and they’ll guard them closely.” Sometimes Pieschl lets the lure sit on the surface and barely twitches it to make the stickbait wobble. This action causes some bass to move up and smash the lure on top.

The stickbait technique allows Pieschl to cover the back of a dock with one retrieve that lasts about 30 seconds. If he knows the spot has a big fish on the nest, he will cast to the same area five or six times before moving to the next dock.

Even though the fish can probably see him, Pieschl claims they still repeatedly strike at the lure and eventually get hooked. The stickbait’s three sets of treble hooks stick even fish that just bump the lure as they try to knock it away from the nest.

The fun begins after the fish is hooked. “Most of the time you have them on only 15 to 20 foot of line and they can get under the dock or into the brush behind the docks,” Pieschl says. The guide relies on bait-casting equipment and 10- to 12-pound test line to horse the fish out from behind a dock. Since he’s constantly fishing over the cables, Pieschl frequently reties his line.

When you fish the Lake of the Ozarks this spring, look for docks in secluded pockets to twitch a stickbait or quiver a lizard around for nesting bass.

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.

College Scholarship Opportunities from the Ike Foundation

The Ike Foundation® Announces College Scholarship Opportunities for Young Anglers

Pittsgrove, NJ, March 5, 2018. The Ike Foundation® is a non-profit organization founded by Mike and Becky Iaconelli. The mission of the Foundation is to introduce urban and rural children to the wholesome sport of fishing while instilling in them a love and respect for the outdoors. The Ike Foundation® also provides five college scholarships to deserving high school seniors who share The Ike Foundation’s® mission.

The 2018 Ike Foundation® Scholarship Dinner raised over $15,000 this year, with help from the local community and sponsors as well as generous support from the fishing community and corporate sponsors.

Scholarships will be awarded to high school seniors pursuing full-time enrollment in a 2-year or 4-year college or university in the United States. Awards are based on academic achievement, demonstrated volunteer commitment (preferably in the fishing or conservation world), and a personal statement of how fishing has impacted their life and prepared them for college. Completed and submitted application materials must be postmarked or submitted online before April 1, 2018.

The Foundation’s Scholarship Committee conducts a blind review of all applications to determine the final award. Trustees score submissions using a pre-defined point system. Scholarship awards may be applied to tuition, fees, supplies, books, or equipment. All interested applicants should go https://theikefoundation.org/2018-scholarship-application.

The Ike Foundation® hosts and sponsors several fundraising events per year. All proceeds support the mission and are tax-deductible via a credit card contribution on the website https://theikefoundation.org/donate.

Follow The Ike Foundation® @TheIkeFoundation on Facebook, on Twitter @FoundationIke and Instagram @theikefoundation.

The Ike Foundation® appreciates the generous donations from individuals and corporate sponsors, including Bass Cat Boats, Toyota, Yamaha Outboard Motors, Abu Garcia, Flambeau, Rapala, RAM Mounts®, Casio, and more. A full list of sponsors can be found at https://theikefoundation.org/sponsors.

Janet Griscom
Professional Edge Fishing, Inc.
PO Box 970
Pittsgrove, NJ 08318
856-816-1692
janet@professionaledgefishing.com
www.mikeiaconelli.com

ST. CROIX ROD: Enter the Dock Sniper

Dock Sniper Multiplies Mojo’s Accuracy

St. Croix’s all-new Mojo Bass Dock Sniper – being showcased at the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic –  gives the power of precision at a perfect price.

PARK FALLS, WI (March 9, 2018) – It’s no secret that bass love docks. From everyday anglers to professionals, bass-heads learn to look for these manmade structures as prime target for green and brown backs. And while countless bass anglers grew up luring bass from the shadows of these platforms, they’ve never had the perfect tool for the task. Enter St. Croix’s Mojo Bass Dock Sniper (MJC70HF), a specialty bass rod that’s built for extreme accuracy, as well as the muscles to bring fish back to the boat.

The 7’, heavy power, fast-action rod shoots for precision, as accuracy is requisite to hitting sweet spots. The Mojo Bass Dock Sniper’s fast-action tip allows gentle, precise placement of baits, while its heavy backbone gives you the lifting power to hoist bass away from underwater brush piles, cables and ladders that threaten to snag your catch.

Dock fishing is often a close-quarters combat situation with limited visibility and maximum mystery. As winter weather begins to warm waters across the country, bass gravitate to these manmade habitats, whose shallow water real estate and attached, heat-absorbing watercraft serve as a veritable underwater lair. There, bass will soak in heat, warming their winter bones while gorging themselves on the bounty of sunfish, baitfish and other waterlife that also call docks home.

Let the accuracy of St. Croix’s new Mojo Bass Sniper help pinpoint casts into those bass-holding nooks and crannies. (Image courtesy of FLOE​)

“The Mojo Bass Dock Sniper is really a multi-tool,” says St. Croix’s Dan Johnston, who recently put the rod to the test in the legendary wooded-waters of Tennessee’s Reelfoot Lake. “It can be skipped, casted or pitched. You can present almost any 1/2 ounce to ¾-ounce bass bait. They’re right in this rod’s wheelhouse.

“It’s a great rod for big spinnerbaits. You can pitch them around cover when you’re in a confined space like around a boat dock. The Mojo Bass Dock Sniper has a tremendous amount of power, too, and it maneuvers so well in tight quarters. Without question, it’s a must-have for bass anglers wanting to throw big baits around obstructions and cover.”

In addition to premium SCIII graphite and Integrated Poly Curve® (IPC™) mandrel technology, Mojo Bass Dock Sniper features Kigan Master Hand 3D guides with slim, strong aluminum-oxide rings and black frames; a Fuji® ECS reel seat, Kigan hook-keeper; split-grip, premium-grade cork handle; two coats of Flex-Coat slow cure finish; and 5-year warranty backed by St. Croix Superstar Service. Mojo Bass Dock Sniper retails for $130.

About St. Croix Rod

Now in its 70th year, Park Falls, Wisconsin based St. Croix Rod remains a family-owned and managed manufacturer of high-performance fishing rods with a heritage of USA manufacturing. Utilizing proprietary technologies, St. Croix controls every step of the rod-making process, from conception and design to manufacturing and inspection, in two company-owned facilities. The company offers a complete line of premium, American-made fly, spinning and casting rods under their Legend Elite®, Legend® Xtreme, Legend Tournament®, Avid Series®, Premier®, Wild River®, Tidemaster®, Imperial® and other trademarks through a global distribution network of full-service fishing tackle dealers. The company’s mid-priced Triumph®, Mojo Bass/Musky/Inshore/Surf, Eyecon® and Rio Santo series rods are designed and engineered in Park Falls, Wisconsin and built in a new, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Fresnillo, Mexico. Founded in 1948 to manufacture jointed bamboo fishing poles for a Minneapolis hardware store chain, St. Croix has grown to become the largest manufacturer of fishing rods in North America.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Dena Vick

Traditions Media, LLC

dena@traditionsmedia.com

501-749-4575

 

Noel Vick

Traditions Media, LLC

noel@traditionsmedia.com

612-708-7339

SEAGUAR: It Will Go Down to the Line

Seaguar pro Keith Combs. (Image courtesy of BASS)

Seaguar Pro Anglers

Line up for the Bassmaster Classic

Premium Seaguar fluorocarbons and braids connect anglers to winning bass

New York, NY (March 13, 2018) – One critical connection links the competitors at the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic to their large-mouthed quarry as the event rolls into Greenville, South Carolina: their line. When nine Seaguar pros launch their boats into Lake Hartwell, they may cast hi-tech braided lines, or opt for premium 100% fluorocarbons, but their goals will all be the same: claim Classic victory and hoist a trophy skyward on Sunday.

Lake Hartwell is no stranger to the Bassmaster Classic. Indeed, this year’s event marks the third time in the past ten years that the 56,000-acre reservoir will become the epicenter of the bass fishing universe. Unlike the most recent event in 2015, a frigid February classic that featured boats frozen to trailers and an offshore bite, the 2018 Bassmaster Classic is almost certain to be warmer, with more water in the reservoir and the bite focused on shorelines and near-shore cover for prespawn largemouth. Nevertheless, notoriously fickle spring weather has Seaguar’s seasoned pros prepared for any angling contingency.

Much excitement surrounds the possibility of a Hartwell shallow water shootout, with roaming prespawn bass as the primary targets. Coverage techniques, like shallow crankbaits and spinnerbaits, augmented by pitching presentations around docks and flooded vegetation, will dominate along shorelines and in the reservoir’s creek arms.

Seaguar InvizX is a smooth casting, robust line with incredible feel, and is an excellent choice for shallow water power fishing. Specially designed to dominate in freshwater, Seaguar pros will spool up with 12 or 15-lb test InvizX as they cover water with extra-long casts and mobile presentations. Like all Seaguar’s 100% fluorocarbon lines, InvizX boasts exceptionally low visibility beneath the water’s surface, helping to trigger wary, early spring bass in Hartwell’s typically clear water.

When approaching specific targets with methodical flipping or pitching presentations, Seaguar’sDenny Brauer Signature Series Flippin’ Braid will be found on Classic competitors’ reels. Seaguar pro angler and 1998 Bassmaster Classic Champion Denny Brauer knows a thing or two about flipping for giant bass, and lent his expertise to the development of this premium braided line.

“I’ve never, EVER, had this line break. It’s a great line, and as a bonus, its jet-black color will get you more bites,” noted Brauer. Flippin’ Braid is constructed from eight ultra-thin strands in a tight, round-profile weave, and is exceptional at cutting through heavy cover. “Flippin’ and pitchin’ are about pulling big fish out of the nastiest vegetation you can find,” said Brauer. “You’re on a short line, and you need to feel the quick reaction strike and then literally horse the fish out of heavy cover. For these applications, Seaguar’s 65-pound Flippin’ Braid is just what the doctor ordered!”

Not all of Hartwell’s top weights will be extracted from the shallows. Indeed, with the 2015 Classic being won offshore, many competitors will opt to target staging areas to intercept oversized bass before they can reach shoreline-focused anglers.

Seaguar AbrazX, a 100% fluorocarbon with double the abrasion resistance of comparable lines, will be a critical element of deep water jig and crankbait applications. Seaguar pro angler Jordan Lee relied on AbrazX to carry him to his 2017 Bassmaster Classic championship, as he probed hard-bottom areas with deep diving cranks and football jigs. Lee noted, “when I was digging that crankbait down into the bottom cast after cast, it never once broke off.” When gearing up for the pivotal last day of the 2017 Classic, Lee spooled up every reel with 17-pound AbrazX because it is strong, abrasion resistant, and still thin enough to get long casts. “Seaguar AbrazX definitely boosts my confidence when I’m dragging baits on hard offshore cover because I get far fewer frays in my line,” Lee asserted.

Seaguar is well represented at the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic, sending Keith Combs, Mark Daniels Jr., Mark Davis, James Elam, Jordan Lee, Matt Lee, Brandon Palaniuk, Cliff Pirch and Jesse Wiggins to the premier event in competitive bass fishing. With the Classic title on the line, look for each to rely on Seaguar as the single critical connection linking them to their finned quarry. Just like our team of Bassmaster Classic competitors, Seaguar premium fluorocarbons and braided lines are Always The Best!

Your 2017 Bassmaster Classic champion, Seaguar’s Jordan Lee. (Photo courtesy of BASS)

About Seaguar Fishing Lines

As the inventor of fluorocarbon fishing lines in 1971, Seaguar has played a prominent role in the advancement of technologies to improve the performance of lines and leader material for both fresh and salt water anglers. Seaguar is the only manufacturer of fluorocarbon fishing lines that produces its own resins and controls the manufacturing process from start to finished product. Today, Seaguar is the #1 brand of fluorocarbon lines and offers a full spectrum of premium products including fluorocarbon mainlines and leader material, fly tippet and leaders, 8-strand and 16-strand braid and monofilament fishing lines.

 

 

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Jason Halfen

Traditions Media, LLC

(715) 379-0545

jason@traditionsmedia.com

 

David Rose

Traditions Media, LLC

(231) 633-9875

dave@traditionsmedia.com

Storing Plastic Baits







FILE PLASTIC BAITS THE KVD WAY

NEW PLANO KVD WORMFILE SPEEDBAGS DELIVER KVD-LEVEL PERFORMANCE AT AN ASTONISHINGLY FAIR PRICE

Plano, IL (March 14, 2018) – Kevin VanDam knows a thing or two about bass fishing. Need proof? VanDam has won the Super Bowl of bass tournaments, the Bassmaster Classic, an unprecedented four times. And he has been named the Bassmaster Elite Series Angler of the Year, seven times. Any questions?

Anglers like VanDam don’t outfish the rest of the crowd by leaving things to chance. So, what is it that separates the best anglers from the rest? Besides their inherent ability, pro anglers and guides consider organization, tackle and equipment management a critical component to their daily routine on the water. Ultimately, operating efficiently saves time. Making decisions quickly and having the ability to implement them is how elite anglers stay in the game longer. In KVD’s words, “If you’re looking for something, you’re not catching bass, and that’s a problem.”

Plano’s new KVD Wormfile Speedbags™ offer KVD-grade performance and efficiency for organizing plastics. Available in two different sizes, small and large, KVD Wormfile Speedbags are optimized for storing up to 20 or 40 individual bags of soft plastics, respectively. “These fast-access zippered bags keep individual bags of soft plastics upright and uniformly oriented, so you can find what you need fast,” says VanDam. “And Plano’s patented fold-down design allows them to be fully opened to reveal wide interiors for even greater visibility, while remaining sturdy and self-supporting.”

KVD Wormfile Speedbagsare constructed with a high-performance, waterproof fabric shell featuring a Thermoplastic Elastomer, or TPE coating. This durable design is the same TPE waterproof fabric shell found on KVD Signature Series Tackle Bags and offers unmatched water-resistant protection from the elements. The speedbags also feature a just right, bright red interior that not only improves visibility in low light, but won’t bling too brightly in direct sun either.

Like millions of other anglers, KVD relies on Plano to keep his fishing gear protected and well organized – at home, in the truck and on the water. “Obviously, my entire boat is geared towards efficiency with my tackle storage, and the foundation is the Plano 3700 Stowaway box. But, what I’m really excited about this season are the new KVD Wormfile Speedbags for organizing my plastics.

This storage option keeps the baits in the original, unique packaging, which is very desirable. Baits like Dream Shots and Ochos stay nice and straight and are easy to organize. Plus, baits like Rage Craws that are packaged in individual clams maintain the integrity of their unique packaging,” says VanDam. “This is much better than putting all of your baits in a big bag where appendages can become kinked or the body may end up bent. It’s a great system.”

Today’s soft plastic baits come in an ever-increasing number of styles, sizes and colors to cover a range of presentations and applications. That means even casual anglers carry more soft plastics with them than ever before. But carting around a selection of bulky plastics takes space, and simply piling them into a single bag makes finding what you’re looking for a challenging and time-consuming proposition. KVD doesn’t go that route, so why should you?

Affordable KVD Wormfile Speedbags are just what bass anglers need to organize soft plastics by style, size or color and label the exteriors to make finding exactly what you need ever easier. These classy black bags feature bright red accents and interiors, failsafe looped zipper pulls and side-carry handles for transport. Ultra-efficient storage of soft plastic baits has never been easier… or looked this good.



Plano KVD Wormfile Speedbags™ Features and Specifications

Available in two sizes
Model PLAB11700 Small holds up to 20 packs of soft plastics
Model PLAB12700 Large holds up to 40 packs of soft plastics
Patented fold-down, easy-access bag
Fold along threaded line to reveal wide interior
TPE coating surrounds bag with water-resistant protection
Bright red interior improves visibility in low light
Side carry handle for easy transport
Model PLAB11700 / 9.5”L x 4.5”W x 6.25”H / MSRP $14.99

Model PLAB12700 / 14”L x 4.5”W x 5.5”H / MSRP $19.99

It’s no coincidence the world’s most successful competitive angler trusts Plano to protect and transport his gear. New KVD Signature Series Tackle Bags and Wormfile SpeedbagsTM provide avid anglers with customizable storage, premium-grade protection and unmatched organization and access. So be like KVD; power on and fish fast. These exceptional new bags will take care of the rest.

Plano: Original Fishing Gear, Since 1952

Owning Plano® quality is a tradition that began when the company created the first-ever molded plastic tackle box in 1952. Since then, the Plano brand has found its way into the hearts and hands of four generations. There are many reasons why anglers choose Plano, including quality, variety-of-style, performance and innovation, but our favorite is “It’s what my dad always used.” Learn more at www.planomolding.com.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Jay Anglin
Traditions Media, LLC
(574) 210-2844
jay@traditionsmedia.com

Josh Lantz
Traditions Media, LLC
(219) 728-8996
josh@traditionsmedia.com

Casey Scanlon shares dock fishing tips for Lake of the Ozarks

Lake of the Ozarks dock fishing with Casey Scanlon

By John Neporadny Jr.

Boat docks are high priority targets for Casey Scanlon whenever he practices for a tournament at Lake of the Ozarks.

Scanlon admits targeting docks gives him confidence, especially since he guides on Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks, the 54,000-acre reservoir loaded with countless docks. So it is a given that the first piece of cover Scanlon checks out in practice will be a dock.

Throughout his pro career, Scanlon has fished all sorts of docks ranging from the stationary wooden piers to floating structures secured with steel cables. Scanlon mainly fishes the floating-style boat houses attached to steel cables on his home lake.

The FLW Tour pro considers docks ideal cover because the structures extend over a wide range of depths. “You can fish them from zero to 30 feet deep,” says Scanlon. “A lot of times home owners put brush under them (a bonus piece of cover).” The boat houses also allow bass to move up and down in the water column where they can suspend right under the foam of the floating structures or at a mid-depth range or hug the bottom.

Boat docks attract plenty of forage fish for bass too. “Every dock is going to have bluegill underneath it and it is nice to find docks where the shad are congregating around as well,” Scanlon says. “There is always going to be bait present and mostly in the form of bluegill which I think bigger fish prefer.”

Docks also create a lot of shade where bass can lurk and set up to ambush baitfish. “I always keep an eye on shade and am aware of it in case I start getting bites,” Scanlon says. “I always fish the shady side (of docks) a little bit harder.” Scanlon notes the only time he avoids the shady side of docks is during winter and early spring when bass seek warmer water. Then he keys on the sunny side of a dock, especially where the sunshine is hitting the black floatation, which generates warmer water.

“An ideal dock to me is the biggest I can find without being a marina dock,” says Scanlon, who prefers large private docks that can cast expansive shade.

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

The local pro also favors fishing isolated docks or if an area is loaded with boat houses, he keys on the first few docks heading into a creek, the last few docks in the back of a creek, or docks situated on a point or break line. “I rarely go down a row of 20 docks that are all in 15 feet of water,” he says.

When he has to fish an area with rows of docks, Scanlon tries to pick out individual targets rather than fish a whole row. “I will side scan (the docks) with my Garmin electronics and look at my down view and see where the fish are positioned,” Scanlon says. “I am mostly looking for cover so if one of the docks has a brush pile underneath that is the one I am going to target. I also look for the biggest one and the ugliest one with stuff falling off of it. I also look for rod holders and fish baskets–just signs that a fisherman lives there.”

Docks are productive year-round for Scanlon, so here are his tips on how to fish this type of cover throughout the four seasons at Lake of the Ozarks.

Winter

“A lot of the fish will either be around docks in the deep guts in the very back of the creeks or isolated docks on a secondary point or the main lake,” Scanlon says. “Basically I am looking for a dock that has a lot of depth under it and I am looking for a lot of shad. I look for docks where the fish don’t have to move a whole lot. If it is sunny they can slide up in 10 feet of water and then they can slide back the other direction by 10 or 12 feet into depths of 30 to 40 feet. “

On extremely sunny days, Scanlon will fish the back side of docks along steep banks, but most of the time he keys on the sides of docks or wherever he finds brush piles near the floating structure. “Bass like to suspend that time of year so if there is some brush on the side or if there is a brush pile behind the dock I will flip a jig there,” Scanlon says. He also concentrates on the front of large boat houses where bass hang around the steel cables that anchor the docks.

Spring

“I am looking for the transitions in the bank where the channel bank turns down into gravel, which is where the fish are looking to spawn,” Scanlon says. “So I like docks that are situated really close to the bank, especially if the back of the dock is up on the bank.” He believes bass flock to these shallow docks because the cover is similar to a laydown log that provides bass with shelter extending from the bank out to deeper water. When bass move to the bank to spawn, Scanlon fishes the back side of the docks then.

Summer

Similar to winter, Scanlon keys on deep-water docks that attract plenty of shad. “So I am looking for those isolated docks and trying to catch fish suspended on the front corners that are looking for bait,” says Scanlon, who keys on large docks on main lake points and channel swings. He also fishes brush piles near those docks and works his lures along the bottom for bass holding tight to the wood cover.

Fall

The touring pro concentrates on isolated docks along main lake flats or the last few docks on flats in the creeks. Tracking shad is the key to finding the most productive lures during this season.

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.

Reward program for competitive anglers

TAG introducing innovative reward program for competitive anglers

A new incentive program is offering freshwater and saltwater tournament anglers more opportunities to increase their winnings.

Tournament Anglers Group (TAG) offers incentive rewards to all tournament contestants from elite-level pros to co-anglers and weekend tournament anglers with equal payouts in three tiers of membership (silver, gold and platinum). There are no limits on the number of times or amount a TAG member can win per year. Registered TAG members are eligible to receive incentive rewards of up to $5,000 by competing in sanctioned bass, walleye, crappie and saltwater tournaments.

Paying a $1,000 platinum membership fee gives TAG members a chance to earn a $500 reward for winning a sanctioned event with a 30-59 boat field or being the highest Top 10 finisher in a sanctioned tournament with a minimum field of 60 boats. A TAG platinum member can also earn a $5,000 bonus by winning a sanctioned event with a 60-boat minimum field.

TAG gold members pay a $500 membership fee to earn a $250 reward for winning a 30-59 boat sanctioned event or being the highest Top 10 finisher in a sanctioned tournament with a 60-boat minimum field. Gold members who win a sanctioned event with a 60-boat minimum field will receive $2,500 from TAG.

A silver membership costs $250 a year and pays out $125 to TAG members who win a sanctioned event with a 30 to 59 boat field or is the highest Top 10 finisher in a sanctioned event with a 60-boat minimum field. TAG silver members can earn $1,250 if they win a tournament with a minimum 60-baot field.

“You could look at this as a five-year investment opportunity,” TAG Co-founder Mark Wiese said. “If you fish 10 tournaments on a gold level membership it would be $50 per event. Over five years that would give you 50 chances. If you only won once, you would still break even. Top 10 finishes or any other wins are pure profit to you.” Mark and Co-founder Kelly Power said they hope this added incentive will encourage more anglers to patronize the sanctioned events, making this a “win/win” for all parties involved

For more information about TAG and a listing of the TAG-sanctioned tournaments, visit www.tagfishing.us.

Winter Drawdown on Lake of the Ozarks

Fishing Lake of the Ozarks winter drawdown stages

By John Neporadny Jr.

Knowing the plans for preventing floods in the spring can improve your chances of catching wintertime bass on Lake of the Ozarks.

AmerenMissouri annually draws down lake levels during the winter to prevent flooding in the spring, so Lake of the Ozarks anglers must adapt to the falling water to catch bass.

A typical winter drawdowns usually leads to three phases that anglers must adjust to in order to keep track of bass throughout the winter and early spring. Phase One occurs when the drawdown begins and bass move from the shallows to deeper sanctuaries. Next comes Phase Two when the drawdown bottoms out and bass bunch up in certain holes during the dead of winter. Phase Three follows in early spring when the lake is still low and shoreline cover is high and dry, but bass have the urge to move shallower in search of warmer water.

Here’s a look at how FLW Tour pro and Lake of the Ozarks guide Casey Scanlon tracks and catches Lake of the Ozarks bass during each phase of the winter drawdown.

Phase One

The first drawdown phase on Lake of the Ozarks usually starts slowly in late November or early December and then Scanlon notices the water levels drop sharply at some point. Scanlon keys on main and secondary points where bass are feeding on larger meals for winter. “Those fish are up there eating those big (gizzard) shad,” he said.

During the early stages of the drawdown, Scanlon relies on a Luck E Strike Buzzbait or other topwater lures to catch bass chasing the gizzard shad. As the lake level continues to fall, bass start suspending on points and vertical structure on the main lake so Scanlon tempts these fish with a Luck E Strike RC STX Jerkbait or a 3/4-ounce spinnerbait that he slow rolls.

Phase Two

The guts of creeks and main lake pockets are Scanlon’s favorite targets during the bottom-out stage of the winter drawdown. He finds Lake of the Ozarks bass suspending at 8 to 10 feet over a depth of 20 feet or greater and casts his lures down the middle of the guts. “In the middle of winter, I use a (suspending) jerkbait and I am also going to throw some kind of an Alabama rig.” He throws an Alabama rig without blades in clear water on calm, sunny days but changes to a bladed version of the rig in windy or cloudy conditions.

Phase Three

This is the trickiest phase of the drawdown since bass want to move to warmer water in the shallows, but shallow cover is sparse and cold fronts can send bass retreating back to deeper water.

Scanlon concentrates on boulders and docks in the shallows along points and bluffs in the backs of creeks. “I look for just any type of cover available on the bank and I will throw a (1/2-ounce Trophy Bass Company) jig with a big trailer to slow the fall rate down,” Scanlon said. He also throws a suspending jerkbait and a Luck E Strike G5 crankbait for bass suspended in deeper water.

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.

Reprinted with permission from B.A.S.S. Publications

Jim Dill predicts another good year for Lake of the Ozarks

Another good year for Lake of the Ozarks bass

By John Neporadny Jr.

Lake of the Ozarks anglers have always been blessed with good bass fishing throughout the years and 2018 should be another banner year for the lake.

Guide Jim Dill expects bass fishing to be average to above average this year at Lake of the Ozarks. “It seems like the weights are going up (at tournaments) and we are seeing bigger fish turned in on (guide) trips,” he said. “I am catching a lot more quality fish.” Two 10-pound largemouth were caught on the Grand Glaize arm of the lake in the spring of 2016. Dill believes the bass are growing bigger because the fish have a lot of forage created by the large shad population in the lake.

When the water temperature starts to warm, bass begin their prespawn migration to the shallows. Bass start feeding heavily during the first warming trend of the month when it causes the water temperature to climb into the 40-degree range. Dill picks 42 degrees as the magic number for drawing big bass to the shallows. “Once we hit 42 there are just as many fish shallow as there is anywhere else,” he said. “The majority of the fish are going to start pushing towards the back ends of creeks looking for warmer water.”

Bottom-bumping baits such as small finesse jigs or a Crock-O-Gator Swamp Bug on a 1/2-ounce jighead tricks prespawn bass into biting. Suspending jerkbaits in a variety of colors and an Alabama rig also produce plenty of quality bass in March.

During early April, Dill throws larger jigs, Wiggle Warts and suspending jerkbaits for bass along the rock transition banks (scattered chunk rock and pea gravel). The spawn usually occurs from middle to late April when the fish nest 6 feet deep or less in the protected pea gravel pockets. A variety of soft plastics will work then and nesting bass will also attack topwater lures such as a Crock-O-Gator HeadKnocker Buzz Bait or Zara Spook.

The local guide suggests fishing the lake’s major creeks for the earliest action since spring rains tend to warm the backs of those creeks first. Dill lists Jennings Branch, Gravois, Bogue, Cedar and Mill creeks as some of the spots on the lower end of the lake where the bass action turns on quicker 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.

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 Cold Water Crappie

Hot Tips for Cold Water Lake of the Ozarks Crappie

Some of the largest crappie of the year are annually taken at Lake of the Ozarks by anglers jerking suspending stickbaits for bass.

About 10 years ago I went crappie fishing on Lake of the Ozarks with Roger Fitzpatrick, a local bass tournament competitor, who had refined a suspending jerkbait tactic to catch slab crappie. During a couple of hours of fishing, we caught 28 fish in the 11- to 13-inch range and on a couple of occasions we scored doubles. I also caught the largest crappie I’ve ever taken on my home lake –a 15-inch fish that weighted 1 pound, 14 ounces.

Since then, I have jerked a LuckyCraft Bevy Shad 60 in a ghost minnow hue to catch crappie throughout the winter. The key is to find brush piles in the 12- to 15-foot range and slowly work the stickbait over the top of the brush. I throw past the brush pile, reel the lure down to its maximum depth and then employ a twitch-twitch-twitch-pause cadence with the pauses lasting about five to 10 seconds. I throw the stickbait on 8-pound monofilament line with a 6 1/2-foot medium-action spinning rod. Scaling down to 6-pound line will make the lure dive deeper, but I prefer the 8-pound line for added strength in case a hefty largemouth or hybrid white bass-striper nabs the stickbait.

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

The stickbait technique produces quality fish, but when I want to catch numbers of crappie I resort to horizontal and vertical presentations with jigs. My favorite jighead size for casting is a 1/16-ounce model which is heavy enough to cast and control on a windy day, yet is light enough to slowly fall through a school of suspended crappie. On calm, cloudy days, I will occasionally throw a 1/24-ounce jighead to make the lure fall even slower for suspended fish. I can also vary the fall rate of my jigs by tying the lures on 4- or 6-pound monofilament or fluorocarbon line.

Two of my favorite soft plastics for casting in the wintertime are the Bobby Garland Baby Shad and the 3-inch Bobby Garland Slab Slayer in blue ice, chartreuse-and-white, butter belly, pearl glow and chartreuse glow hues. The glow colors produce best for me when I shoot the lures into the dark areas of a dock or cast to the shadowy side of a dock.

The same brush piles that yield crappie on stickbaits also produce when I am casting a jig. I always cast past the brush and count down my jig (usually an 8- or 10-count). I keep my line semi-taut so the lure will pendulum towards the brush and hopefully tick the tips of the limbs when I start reeling. While slowly turning the reel handle I occasionally twitch my rod to make the jig hop slightly. Strikes frequently occur while the jig is falling towards the brush or after it has ticked off of a limb.

If I notice on my depth finder that baitfish are suspended high in the water column and crappie are ignoring the Baby Shad and Slab Slayer, I will switch to a technique similar to the shaky head finesse tactic for bass I attached either an Eagle Claw Nitro Trailer worm or a Berkley Gulp Alive Fish Fry in chartreuse or white to a 1/16-ounce jighead and cast it to the deep ends of boat docks over depths of 20 to 30 feet. As the jig slowly falls through the suspended fish, I occasionally shake the jig-and-worm combo. I let the jig pendulum all the way back to the boat on a semi-taut line and watch for indications of a strike, such as a twitch in the line or if I feel my line getting heavier. When my the shaky head is directly below the boat I let it sit there for a short while before reeling it in to make another presentation to the dock.

Vertical jigging is usually my last resort. Whenever I approach a brush pile, I will cast to it first to catch the most aggressive fish. Once the action stops, I will position my boat over the brush and drop my jig until I feel it hit the cover and then I will make one turn of the reel to keep my jig slightly above the snag. I drift back and forth over the brush pile occasionally letting the jig bang into the branches, which usually triggers a strike.

A 1/8-ounce jighead works best for me when I am vertical fishing in deeper brush because I can feel the heavier jig better. I vertical jig with either a fuzzy-grub style jig or the Slab Slayer. The marabou of the fuzzy grub and the limber soft plastic tail of the Slab Slayer generate plenty of tantalizing movement even when I am holding my rod still, so these lures are ideal for holding in front of an inactive crappie and teasing it into biting.

Catching a trophy bass on a suspending stickbait in the winter is an once-in-a-lifetime thrill, but when I want some hot action on a cold winter day I get my fix by chasing after those calico panfish.

For information on lodging 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.