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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

Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Winning: Top Outdoors Gift Ideas for Father’s Day

Ten gifts Dad is guaranteed to love, no matter your budget

Minneapolis, MN (May 30, 2018) – Competing with your siblings for Dad’s affection is just silly. He loves all of you equally, right? Uh… maybe. Remember what your sister gave him for Father’s Day last year? Yeah, he does, too. Step it up; It’s the thought that counts will only get you by for so long.

The outdoors is our wheelhouse, so if your Dad spends time there, your best move is to trust us while carefully reading our list of can’t miss Father’s Day gift ideas for 2018.

FLIR BREACH PTQ136 Thermal Monocular

FLIR’s newest, lightest and most compact thermal imaging monocular, the powerful BREACH PTQ136 is the perfect gift for the active outdoors Dad who thinks he already has everything. Powered by the compact, 12-micron FLIR Boson ccore, FLIR BREACH delivers crisp images, onboard recording and seven color palettes to quickly detect people, animals and other subjects up to 1,200 yards away, day or night. Instead of using light, BREACH detects minute differences in temperatures, amplifies them and displays the scene realistically on a high definition screen. BREACH is the ideal tool for increased situational awareness in any dark environment, and is especially useful for game recovery, wayfinding in the outdoors, home and property surveillance and personal security. BREACH retails for $2,495. Learn more at flir.com.

Old Town Predator PDL Kayak

The most advanced pedal-powered fishing machine of its kind, the 13’ 2” Old Town Predator PDL will get Dad to the spot fast, and keep him on the spot without paddling. With forward, reverse, and loads of maneuverability and stability, Dad will experience precise boat control while his hands remain free for fishing. The removable pedal drive installs in seconds and tips up instantly for shallow water docking. The revolutionary pedal drive hits an impressive 5.5 MPH with a 10.3:1 gear ratio for efficient pedaling in forward or reverse. The entire boat was overbuilt for simple boat control, toughness, ease of transport, ample gear storage, rigging, and fishability. Available in Camo, Lime Camo, Urban Camo, and Black Cherry, the Old Town Predator PDL has an MSRP of $2,799.99. Learn more at www.oldtowncanoe.com.

Aqua-Vu micro Revolution 5.0 Underwater Camera

The micro Revolution is the most user-friendly underwater camera ever built. Complete with a 5-inch color LCD, thumb-sized underwater camera and 60-feet of cable, the micro underwater viewing system also features an integrated camera cable reel system for instantly deploying and retrieving the optics. It’s simply the fastest, most entertaining way for Dad to discover fish and other secrets lurking beneath the surface. Includes camera fins and weights for both ice and open water use, as well as a built-in lithium ion battery and battery charger. MSRP is $349.99. Learn more at aquavu.com.

ScentLok OZChamber 8K Storage Bag Combo

Whether Dad needs to restore or maintain the odor-adsorbing capacity of his activated carbon scent-control hunting apparel, or deodorize his regular hunting clothing or accessories, the new ScentLok OZChamber 8K Storage Bag Combo is the best and most comprehensive odor-destroying storage solution available for hunters today. Offering a generous 8,190 cubic-inches of storage space, the ScentLok OZChamber 8K Storage Bag is available in black, as well as a choice of three popular camo patterns. The fabric is heavy 600D nylon with a DWR treatment to shed external moisture. It is lined with a PVC backing inside for easy care. The bag comes with a carbon adsorbing pad that fits into an interior mesh pocket to trap odors from gear and the air inside the bag, and is also pre-plumbed with an OZInject internal piping system to distribute odor-destroying ozone throughout the interior. A ScentLok OZ500 ozone generator comes bundled with the OZChamber 8K Combo Pack. This advanced ozone generator is specifically designed to emit a powerful stream of ozone molecules that seek out and destroy virtually all types of odors and bacteria in their path. ScentLok CycleClean technology allows the powerful OZ500 to regulate output by alternating between active and resting phases for maximum efficiency and longer product life. Retail price starts at $199.99. Learn more at ScentLok.com.

Raymarine Axiom Pro High Performance Multifunction Navigation Display

Axiom Pro is engineered for captains (and fishing and cruising fathers) who want it all. Available with RealVision™ 3D, 1kW CHIRP sonar, and Raymarine HybridTouch control, Axiom Pro is the new standard for “all-in-one” multifunction devices. With a blazing fast quad core processor, a super bright IPS display, and the smart LightHouse OS, Axiom Pro delivers a fluid and intuitive navigation experience. Axiom Pro is easy to expand into an advanced navigation network that includes multiple Axiom displays, CHIRP radar, Evolution autopilot, FLIR thermal night vision technology, and more. Available in 9”, 12.1”, and 15.6” display sizes. MSRP starts at $2,299.99. Learn more at www.raymarine.com.

St. Croix Avid Series Inshore Saltwater Fishing Rods

Offering 16 spinning models and six casting models, St. Croix’s award-winning American-made Avid Series Inshore saltwater fishing rods will provide Pop with pride and performance on any inshore piscatorial pursuit. Featuring high-modulus SCIII graphite construction using IPC tooling technology and premium-grade corrosion-proof components, these handsome rods are advanced, inshore fishing tools, designed and built for superior performance. MSRP ranges from $230-$290. Learn more at stcroixrods.com.

Howard Leight Impact Sport BOLT Digital Electronic Earmuff

While you may get a kick out the way Dad feigns hearing impairment whenever Mom is talking, real hearing loss is no laughing matter. Help Pops protect his hearing on the shooting range, in the field, on the job or at the racetrack with the new Impact Sport BOLT digital electronic earmuff from Howard Leight. Featuring all new digital compression circuitry resulting in 5X sound amplification of low-level frequencies, Impact Sport BOLT’s lightning fast attack time of just .5 milliseconds effectively compresses any continuous or impulse noises of 82 dB or higher. A sleek, extremely low profile earcup design allows full clearance while shouldering a firearm, while an external AUX jack cord allows connection to an MP3 player or scanner. Retail price is about $80. Learn more at HowardLeight.com.

Flambeau “IKE” Ritual 50 Backpack

Get Dad the ultimate mobile tackle storage solution that will allow him to chase the bite like professional angler, Mike Iaconelli. Lightweight and durable, the Flambeau “Ike” Ritual 50 Backpack is the perfect marriage of simplicity and function for transporting Pop’s essential fishing gear from home to the honey hole. Includes one Zerust 5007 Tuff Tainer and one Zerust 140-IQ “IQ” Series Utility Box featuring a high-capacity footprint designed to withstand heavy jig-based loads and interchangeable compartment tray cups for quickly reconfiguring in-box organization or swapping from box to box. UV and water-resistant, the “IKE” Ritual 50 also features deep storage side compartments, two exterior “V” cup tool holders, front saddle pouch with rubber coated mesh, a line spool purse and a waterproof vinyl phone pouch. MSRP is $69.99. Learn more at flambeauoutdoors.com.

BUFF Elite Gloves

Providing comfort, ergonomics and sun protection in abundance, BUFF’s new Elite Gloves are the most advanced angling gloves ever made. Three-quarter length fingers offer protection while leaving fingertips free to tie knots and perform other fishing functions. The palm features tough yet breathable synthetic suede bonded with an abrasion resistant film to improve durability. Available in multiple, distinct styles, these gloves combine UPF 50+ sun protection with one-of-a-kind engineering that minimizes chafing, maximizes durability and keeps Dad comfortable on the water. They even have grippy pull tables for easy-on, easy-off. MSRP is $45. Learn more at buffusa.com.

LIVETARGET Hollow Body Frog

Dad loves bass. Bass love frogs. The LIVETARGET Hollow Body Frog is available in three lengths and weights and a full spectrum of fourteen strike-provoking color patterns (MSRP $13.49). No matter which size, color or species of living frogs inhabit the shorelines and emergent vegetation on Dad’s favorite lake, you’ll find a LIVETARGET Hollow Body Frog to mimic them perfectly. Let the gripping and grinning commence. MSRP is $13.49. Learn more at livetargetlures.com.

Seaguar Tatsu Fluorocarbon Fishing Line

Tatsu is Japanese for dragon. Need we say more? Seaguar delivers an amazingly strong, yet supple, fluorocarbon line unlike any other through a superior, state-of-the-art double-structure process. It fuses two custom, 100% fluorocarbon resins, creating the world’s only double-structure main line. Fill Dad’s spool with Tatsu and help him to fish fierce with extraordinary knot strength and castability. Available in 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, 20 and 25 lb. tests, Seaguar Tatsu retails for around $35 for a 200-yard spool. Learn more at seaguar.com.

Z-Man Bait BinderZ

Keep Dad’s collection of fish-catching ElaZtech softbaits perfectly organized, utilizing the pre-punched holes found on standard-size Z-Man bait bags. When stored in the Bait BinderZ, baits remain easily accessible and away from other softbaits that can react with super-active ElaZtech. Bags feature tough 500-denier nylon, zippered enclosures and treated nickel-plated rings for corrosion resistance. MSRP is $14.99. Learn more at zmanfishing.com.

Visit Lake of the Ozarks while traveling Route 66

Get Your Route 66 Kicks at Lake of the Ozarks

By John Neporadny Jr.

The nostalgia of Route 66 continues to captivate summer vacationers who want to cruise the legendary old highway through the heart of the country.

The old popular song “Get Your Kicks on Route 66” can certainly apply to bass anglers who want to cruise the interstates that roughly follow the old highway that was decommissioned in 1984. Bass anglers can follow the same route highlighted in the National Lampoon movie “Vacation” in which Clark Griswold takes his family from Chicago to Los Angeles to visit Walley World. However, the side trips you can take will be to some of the top bass fishing spots in the country rather than Clark’s zany misadventures off the beaten path to visit Dodge City or Cousin Eddie in Arizona.

One of those stops for bass anglers close to the old Route 66 is at Lake of the Ozarks. While travelling on Interstate 44 through Missouri, stop at Lebanon and head north on Missouri Highway 5 for about 25 miles to reach the Lake of the Ozarks. The 54,000-acre lake was the largest manmade reservoir in the world when the dam across the Osage River was built in 1931. The lake has been the site for Bassmaster Central Opens and Invitationals throughout the years and former Bassmaster Classic champions Denny Brauer and Guido and Dion Hibdon honed their skills while guiding and competing in tournaments there.

Thousands of boat docks lining the lake’s 1,150 miles of shoreline provide excellent year-round cover for largemouth and spotted bass. The lake lost most of its natural cover when the standing timber was cleared before the lake was formed but anglers and dock owners are constantly filling the lake with new cover by planting brush piles throughout the impoundment. Summertime bass are also attracted to the lake’s steep bluffs, creek channels, humps and points.

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

The best summertime bass patterns at the lake include working 10-inch Berkley Power Worms in brush piles 15 to 30 feet deep and running deep-diving crankbaits or dragging Carolina-rigged creature baits on main lake points, channel drops and humps.

Recreational boat traffic is extremely heavy on the lake during the summer, so visiting bass anglers should try fishing early and late in the day. Fishing after sunset is excellent throughout the summer as it usually takes around 20 pounds to win night tournaments.

The 15-inch minimum length limit for largemouth bass imposed by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has helped produce consistently good bass fishing for more than three decades. In recent MDC electrofishing surveys taken on two arms of the lake, the percentages of keeper bass ranged from 15 to 24 percent.

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 Bassmaster Magazine.

St. Croix Rods Supports High School Bass Fishing

High School Fishing:
A Different Breed of Pro

Today’s student-anglers (and coaches) see value in networking

Park Falls, WI (May 18, 2018) – Will Simmons planned to be fishing by lunchtime; maybe just a little after. A transplanted crappie fisherman turned bass nut, and now coach of the Obion County Central High School (OCCHS) fishing team, Simmons was en route to his first fishing photoshoot. Together with Cody Gregory, a stand-out member of the OCCHS team, Simmons was on his way to meet with photographers and marketing execs for St. Croix Rods, who chose nearby Reelfoot Lake for the job at hand.

Simmons and Gregory figured they’d knock out the shoot in a couple hours and be free to spend the evening casting for bass. How hard could it be?

“We were quickly surprised,” Simmons reflected, “on how much went into that shoot.” Plans for a relaxing day on the lake were immediately cancelled.

Neither Simmons nor Gregory were disappointed, however, and used the opportunity to learn everything they could about the business of fishing. “It was real eye-opener, and a great experience,” Gregory reflected. A former Tennessee State Champion, Gregory recently received a fishing scholarship to attend Bethel University, one of the nation’s premier fishing-supportive schools.

“I’m working toward a business degree, and I want to get a job in the fishing industry,” Gregory added. “If I can’t be a (tournament) pro, I may look into a rep position.” Gregory added that the St. Croix shoot “wasn’t as easy as it looks. A lot goes into these types of things behind the scenes. They sure require a lot of patience…”

“St. Croix has an incredible camera crew,” Simmons added. Agreeing to take part in the event was an easy move for the coach, as he wanted to learn more about ways to network with the legendary rod builder. “I wanted to talk about developing a relationship between St. Croix and our team. The Mojo line, for example, is really appealing for high school and college anglers. This week, I fished a bunch with the new Mojo Power Shake rod (MJS73MHF) and was blown away with the combination of finesse and power. I really look forward to using a Power Shake for fishing around the bushes of Kentucky Lake.”

For some time, St. Croix has realized the need for high-quality gear at all price points, to fit into any budget. Recently, the Bass X series (casting and spinning) joined the Mojo Bass line (casting and spinning) with tournament-grade gear priced for student athletes.

Cody Gregory – now also a top-5 finisher in the bass fishing National Championships – has long been a St. Croix fan. “I’ve used them since I started fishing,” he added. “St. Croix rods have always been top of the line, but the new models are in a class of their own. The Dock Sniper is instantly one of my favorites.” A true specialty rod, the Mojo Dock Sniper (MJC70HF) combines heavy-power and fast action in a seven-foot frame, making it ideal for tournament winning dock tactics using casting jigs and stout line.

In addition to being technical about his fishing, Gregory’s recent photoshoot experience illustrates his passion for other aspects of a fishing career: “I jumped at the opportunity,” he said, when it came to the St. Croix invite. Now armed with even more knowledge and experience in fishing, Gregory will continue to push hard, looking to again qualify for Nationals this April.

Simmons also sees the recent event as a means to learn more of the fishing business. “In the future, we’re going to try to be more appealing to colleges and aspire to work more closely with Bethel University. This photo shoot can only help those efforts.”

As student fishing expands, so does the commitment to the cause by manufacturers like St. Croix Rods, with support at all levels of the movement.

Visit St. Croix Rods

Floating worm for Lake of the Ozarks

Floating worm trick for Lake of the Ozarks spawning bass

By John Neporadny Jr.

When pollen coats the water surface of Lake of the Ozarks, Mike Malone knows it’s time to throw a floating worm.

The pollen coating on the surface signifies bass are bedding on Malone’s home lake, but the tournament veteran suggests you can use other signs of spring in your region to determine when bass are spawning. When the spawn is on, Malone opts for the floating worm, a finesse bait that has produced for him for 20 years.

“It’s a stealthy, finesse bait that doesn’t make a lot of noise when it hits the water,” he says. “You are able to skip it under cover such as boat dock ramps, cables and tree limbs, etc. in a real quiet presentation. It works best during the spawn when the fish are pretty skittish.”

“Many times I have been able to fish behind guys who were flipping a jig, a worm or a tube and catch multiple fish with the worm,” Malone says. “I have had many 20-pound bags throwing that worm. It’s just a timing deal to catching the big ones and it is a pretty deadly bait for three or four weeks in the spring.”

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

The local angler will throw the floating worm in sunshine or overcast weather but wind creates problems for him since it tends to blow his line and unweighted worm too much. “Wind is taboo,” he says.

Finding the spawning banks is the key to Malone’s floating worm technique. On Lake of the Ozarks, Malone looks for pea gravel pockets or clay banks protected from the wind. He also throws the worm along indentations of bluff banks that hold spawning bass.

Malone’s favorite bait for this presentation is a 6-inch Zoom Trick Worm in bright hues such as yellow and bubble gum but occasionally he will throw a green pumpkin or bullfrog color worm to imitate bluegills. He recommends experimenting with different colors until you find one the fish seem to prefer. “The fish do get conditioned to seeing stuff over and over again, so anything different is probably going to work,” he says.

The Trick Worm is rigged wacky style by impaling a 1/0 Gamakatsu Drop Shot Hook slightly above the worm’s egg sack which gives the worm a fluttering action. “I want that worm to pulsate at both ends when I twitch it,” Malone says. His floating worm tackle consists of a 6-foot, 8-inch St. Croix Legend Elite medium action/extra fast tip spinning rod and Lew’s Tournament Pro Speed Spin spinning reel filled with 10- to 20-pound test Toray braided line in a low-visibility green.

Making long-distance deliveries is a key to Malone’s floating worm tactic. “It is pretty important to make long, long casts if the water is clear because typically those fish will see you by the time you see them,” he says. “If I can just make a long cast into an area where I can see beds but I don’t really see any fish that is a good thing because those fish are just in the shadows just off the beds. Nine out of 10 times I can catch one there.” He also turns off his electronics to prevent spooking these shallow fish.

Even though rigged without a weight, the Trick Worm sinks slowly throughout Malone’s presentation. Most of the time Malone retrieves the worm similar to a jerkbait with a twitch-twitch-pause cadence. He usually lets the worm sink for a second or two before repeating the sequence. The tournament competitor notices some days the fish want the worm moving but on other days he has to let it sink down to depths of 4 to 6 feet to trigger bites.

Since bigger bass usually inhale the worm, Malone sets the hook immediately when he feels a tick. “I reel up the slack and I pop them,” he says.

If he notices a bluegill biting on the worm, he lets the sunfish pull until it drops the worm and then gets ready for a bigger bite. “A lot of times that is when I catch a good bass because they hate bluegill,” he says.

The floating worm also serves as a good follow-up lure when a bass blows up and misses a Luckycraft Gunfish topwater plug Malone also likes to throw during the spawn. “Those big fish if they don’t kill (the topwater lure), they slap at it,” Malone says. “So they are exposed then and I drop my Talons (shallow-water anchors) and I throw that floating worm on them. Seventy-five percent of the time I am going to catch them then.”

When the floating worm bite is on, Malone recommends having plenty of worms on hand since you might be going through three to four bags of your favorite colors while catching 50 to 100 fish a day. The worm will produce both numbers and quality fish during the spawn. “I have caught a bunch of fish between 4 and 6 pounds on it,” says Malone, whose biggest bass caught on a floating worm was a 7-pounder.

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 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