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Jeff Sprague hooks up with Elite Anglr team

Jeff Sprague hooks up with Elite Anglr team

Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour competitor Jeff Sprague has joined the Elite Anglr Athlete program to provide his expertise on clothing and help promote the apparel company’s products.

The Texas pro helped spearhead a clothing line for one of his sponsors, which gave him some insight on choosing a fishing apparel company offering quality products. “Those guys (Elite Anglr co-owners Al McCulloch and Donny Wilson) have a great concept and a great clothing line and outdoor weather gear,” Sprague said. “That is what really attracted me was the outdoor weather gear. It is priced right and is a cool brand.”

Prior to joining the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour, Sprague competed for five years on the FLW Tour. He qualified for five FLW Cups and recorded 15 Top 10 finishes in FLW events.

Al McCulloch said Sprague was chosen to be part of the Elite Anglr family for several reasons. “Jeff is a veteran and former police officer and we admire and want those types of individuals representing the Elite Anglr lifestyle,” McCulloch said. “Life is about family and giving back and no one does it better than Jeff. He has worked hard to become a professional angler and that passion is also found in his family life. I remember there was a great shot of Jeff and his son last year on the tour when they were on the deck of his boat for morning prayer before the launch. The picture captured everything you need to know about Jeff.”

“Jeff is all about service,” McCulloch said. “As a veteran he sacrificed for this great country. As a police officer he swore to protect others. Jeff continues to carry these qualities into his professional angling life and family life. We are extremely honored that he has agreed to represent Elite Anlgr for years to come.”

Elite Anglr incorporates two sponsorship programs for anglers: Elite Anglr Athlete and Elite Anglr Family. The Athlete program includes MLF pros, Bassmaster Elite Series pros, FLW Tour pros, Costa and BFL anglers and competitors from regional circuits such as Anglers in Action, Alabama Bass Trail and Texas Team Trail. The Family program helps to develop and sponsor middle school, high school and college anglers.
About Elite Anglr

Partners Al McCulloch, marketing and media specialist for Midwest Fish Tournaments, and Donny Wilson, a former graphic designer with B.A.S.S., created the Elite Anglr fishing brand that promotes the lifestyle of anglers who need comfortable and dependable clothing for a long day on the water.

Elite Anglr’s line of apparel includes ball caps, beanies, short sleeve shirts, long sleeve shirts, hoodies and outdoor weather gear emblazoned with the unique Elite Anglr logo. Promoting fishing and supporting charities are major goals of the new company. Elite Anglr 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.

Apparel orders may be made by visiting Elite Anglr’s web site, www.eliteanglr.com, which is also connected to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Crappie Outlook for Lake of the Ozarks

Lake of the Ozarks Early Crappie Outlook

By John Neporadny Jr.

The spring crappie fishing outlook should be good to excellent whether you decide to dunk a minnow or pitch a jig at Lake of the Ozarks.

Crappie abound throughout the lake and springtime crappie fishing heats up in early March and continues to excel on some parts of the lake until almost Memorial Day.

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

Lake levels remain fairly constant throughout the years at Lake of the Ozarks so crappie reproduction is pretty consistent most years.

Warm spells of two to three days in February can trigger some good shallow-water action, according to guide Terry Blankenship. “One of the most fun patterns for me in February is bobber fishing,” he says. “You can catch large numbers of fish in February because the crappie are starting to prepare for their spring fattening up for the spawn.”

“That time of year the shallower long coves and creek arms will warm the quickest,” Blankenship says. “If there is a lot of south wind warming the water and rolling it onto the north banks, the baitfish will go to those shores which will bring in gamefish. “

Blankenship suggests you can catch the biggest fish of the year as shallow as 2 feet deep during the warm days of February and early March. His favorite lures to stick below a bobber are Bobby Garland Baby Shad and Baby Shad Swim’R soft plastics on 1/16-ounce jigheads. He also relies on a Bobby Garland 3-inch Slab Slay’R for dock shooting in the early spring.

The veteran guide rates the Grand Glaize, Niangua and Little Niangua arms and Indian Creek on the Gravois arm as the best areas to try for early spring crappie action.

Prespawn crappie usually bunch up in brush piles 8 to 15 feet deep in the coves throughout March and early April. The spawn begins on the upper reaches and tributaries of the lake in early April and spreads down lake to the dam by the end of April. Ideal spawning areas are pea gravel pockets laden with boat docks or laydowns.

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.

James Watson, Elite Anglr Team

James Watson Joins Elite Anglr Team

James Watson joins Elite Anglr team

Major League Fishing pro James Watson has signed on with the Elite Anglr Athlete program to promote the apparel company’s products and its objectives in supporting the fishing community.

Elite Anglr co-owner Alan McCulloch saw Watson’s hard work and dedication qualities as an ideal match for the angler lifestyle his company is promoting. “I will put JMFW (James Watson) up against anyone when it comes to devotion to a company and his trade,” McCulloch said. “James matches up with the lifestyle in many ways. James’ story in becoming a successful angler was done by grit and determination. His eight years of service in the U.S. Army, along with the various businesses he started in order to fund his dream of becoming a professional angler is exactly what we want at Elite Anglr. Also his dedication to the Shriners and what he does on the road visiting those kids in the hospital makes us proud.”

“James had a goal and he worked extremely hard in business and on the water to be where he is today,” McCulloch said. “It’s a story that every young angler should hear, especially in today’s culture.”

Watson won the 2015 Bassmaster Central Open at Table Rock Lake and qualified for the 2016 Bassmaster Classic. The Missouri pro also won the 2016 FLW Tour event on Norris Lake and competed in three FLW Cups. He has fished in nine Major League Fishing (MLF) events including the 2016 MLF Summit Cup.

McCulloch suggested you can follow Watson’s season by liking his Facebook page and following him on Instagram.

Watson’s friendship with McCulloch and “knowing (McCulloch’s) work ethic and commitment to bass fishing” made it an easy decision for Watson to sign on with Elite Anglr. “When he told me what he was going to do, how he was going to do it and why he was going to do it, by knowing him I told him I was there to support him,” Watson said. “Big Al is a doer and he is successful at everything he does.”

Known for his wit and humor on the tournament trail, Watson believes there was another reason Elite Anglr recruited him. “I believe Al approached me because of my super good looks,” Watson said. “I could be a benefit to his company with my dynamic looks and personality.”

Elite Anglr incorporates two sponsorship programs for anglers: Elite Anglr Athlete and Elite Anglr Family. The Athlete program includes MLF pros, Bassmaster Elite Series pros, FLW Tour pros, Costa and BFL anglers and competitors from regional circuits such as Anglers in Action, Alabama Bass Trail and Texas Team Trail. The Family program helps to develop and sponsor middle school, high school and college anglers.

About Elite Anglr

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 Elite Anglr, a fishing brand that promotes the lifestyle of anglers who need comfortable and dependable clothing for a long day on the water.

Elite Anglr’s line of apparel includes ball caps, beanies, short sleeve shirts, long sleeve shirts and hoodies emblazoned with the unique Elite Anglr logo. Promoting fishing and supporting charities are major goals of the new company. Elite Anglr 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.

Apparel orders may be made by visiting Elite Anglr’s web site, www.eliteanglr.com, which is also connected to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Winter Bass Fishing at Lake of the Ozarks

Break the Ice for Lake of the Ozarks’ Big Bass

By John Neporadny Jr.

Most winters lately in this area have been mild with Lake of the Ozarks remaining nearly ice-free allowing anglers to fish throughout the winter.

However during the coldest winters, ice buildup limits access to the lake and anglers have to wait for a thaw to get back on the water. When “ice-out” occurs, you might have to break through a thin layer of ice at the boat ramp or to get to a sweet spot, but it will be worth the trouble because you’ll have your best chance to catch some of the biggest bass of the year.

During most winters on this lake, the ice starts thawing and breaking up in February. Bass are usually their heaviest this time of the year, so most of the fish you catch will be chunks.

The best structure to try after the thaw is a little creek channel bend. Small pockets near the river or creek channel bands are also productive areas. Bass spend the winter in the channel bends and in the pockets as well. During the first warm spell, bass move up from deeper water to brush piles that are 6 to 10 feet deep in the pockets. Look for banks on the northern side of the lake that receive the most sunlight because the water in those areas will warm faster. Key on clear water areas because it’s harder to catch bass from cold, muddy water.

Boat docks are also good places to fish for ice-out bass at Lake of the Ozarks. Some bass spend the winter under docks that have deep brush piles and are near the channel bends so look for docks that are along the bends of creeks. Fish a set of docks along one bend and then move across the creek to another row of docks on the opposite channel bend.

Water temperature is not really a key factor during this time of year. I have caught bass during this time by throwing a suspending stickbait in areas where there would still be ice in the pockets.

Warm, sunny weather activates bass this time of year and coaxes the fish to move up shallow. Sometimes it only takes one sunny day to get the fish to move into those shallower brush piles.

A small hair jig tricks plenty of bass during ice-out. Another lure to try is a shad-colored tube jig, which looks like a dying shad when it falls to the bottom. A slow fall works best now so use hair jigs and tube bait jigheads in 1/8- to 1/4-ounce sizes. Let the lures flutter into the brush piles and slowly retrieve the baits through the cover. Working suspending stickbaits with a twitch-and-pause retrieve over the tops of the brush piles also triggers strikes from bass hanging around the brush.

When the lake starts to thaw and heavyweight prespawn bass start migrating to the shallows, it’s prime time to be fishing Lake of the Ozarks to catch a lunker 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.

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

Bass Pro Hank Cherry Signs with Elite Anglr

Hank Cherry signs on with Elite Anglr

Bassmaster Elite Series pro Hank Cherry has joined the Elite Anglr Athlete program to promote the apparel company’s quality products and efforts to give back to the fishing community.

Cherry said he signed on with Elite Anglr because he liked the whole concept of the company promoting conservation and family values.  “Elite Anglr has a logo you can wear and stand behind the clothing and it is not just a fad that is going to be here today and gone tomorrow,” he said.  “I am going to keep the word out there about Elite Anglr.  I will make sure people see that there is an affordable option in sportswear for the fishing community.”

The North Carolina pro won the 2013 Bassmaster Elite Series Rookie of the Year Award and has recorded two victories in B.A.S.S. tournaments: a 2012 Southern Open on Smith Lake and a 2013 Elite Series All-Star Week in Michigan. He has competed in four Bassmaster Classics and finished third in the 2013 Classic at Grand Lake.

Elite Anglr co-owners Al McCulloch and Donny Wilson believe Hank Cherry has many of the qualities they were looking for in a representative of the Elite Anglr lifestyle. “One word that personifies Hank is perseverance,” McCulloch said.  “To compete at the top level in any sport an individual must be dedicated to his or her trade.  Hank like many of us has had personal and professional hurdles to overcome in order to be in the position he is today. Hank never made excuses and focused on what he needed to do in order to achieve his lifelong dream.”

Elite Anglr incorporates two sponsorship programs for anglers: Elite Anglr Athlete and Elite Anglr Family.   The Athlete program includes Bassmaster Elite Series pros, FLW Tour pros, Costa and BFL anglers and competitors from regional circuits such as Anglers in Action, Alabama Bass Trail and Texas Team Trail.  The Family program helps to develop and sponsor middle school, high school and college anglers.

“A key aspect that we wanted to develop in our sponsorship programs is to help in the success of each angler’s career,” McCulloch said.  “Success comes with time on the water and preparation for an event.  Hank will have some speaking engagements and guest appearances for the brand but his success on the water will be more of a representation of the Elite Anglr lifestyle.  We will work with Hank and his schedule to give him the greatest opportunity to continue his success on the Elite Series stage.”

About Elite Anglr

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 Elite Anglr, a fishing brand that promotes the lifestyle of anglers who need comfortable and dependable clothing for a long day on the water.

Elite Anglr’s line of apparel includes ball caps, beanies, short sleeve shirts, long sleeve shirts and hoodies emblazoned with the unique Elite Anglr logo.  Promoting fishing and supporting charities are major goals of the new company.  Elite Anglr 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.

Apparel orders may be made by visiting Elite Anglr’s web site, www.eliteanglr.com, which is also connected to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

EliteAnglr offering quality apparel for angling lifestyle

For Immediate release

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.