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Lake of the Ozarks Offers Great Bass Fishing

Lake of the Ozarks’ great bass fishing

By John Neporadny Jr.

While other Missouri lakes have up and down years of bass fishing, Lake of the Ozarks experiences good bass fishing every year.

Stable water conditions and good shad production create good bass fishing year after year at this Central Missouri Lake. “There is really not a lot of variation from year to year so our (bass) spawning is pretty consistent,” says MDC Fisheries Biologist Greg Stoner. “It looks like we have a slug of fish that is coming on just below the length limit in that 12- to 14-inch range and I expect fishing to be better.”

Longtime tournament pro and guide Guido Hibdon notices there is an abundance of keeper size (15 inches or longer) bass in Lake of the Ozarks now. “The lake is probably as full of bass as I have ever seen it,” he says. “Two-pound fish are thick in the lake now.” His clients have caught quality fish including one fellow who boated an 8–pounder and on a return trip caught two 6-pounders.

Hibdon suggests the best patterns for catching prespawn Lake of the Ozarks bass are throwing Wiggle Wart crankbaits, suspending stickbaits and 1/8 or 5/16-ounce jigs with plastic chunks or craws to transition banks of chunk rocks and gravel. Most of the time a big fish comes from a transition bank,” he says. The prespawn stage varies from one end of the lake to the other and might last for two months.

During the spawn, Hibdon targets the backs of boat docks in protected areas where he casts a shad color tube bait or a jig-and-worm combo.

“Lake of the Ozarks is so good during the spawn because there are so many docks that fish can get anywhere and spawn,” Hibdon says. Spawning usually occurs during a couple of full moons during the spring months.

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

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

February Crappie Fishing at Lake of the Ozarks

Catching Early Slabs at Lake of the Ozarks

By John Neporadny Jr.

February can be a real tease for Lake of the Ozarks crappie anglers.

The month is still in the throes of winter doling out snow, ice and bitter cold, but it also shows hints of spring with certain days radiating sunshine and warmth. The lake has gone through the annual winter drawdown to its lowest level and the surface waters have dropped to the coldest temperatures of the year. During an average winter, the reservoirs north of I-70 are usually covered with ice that is too thick for boats to break through yet too thin to attempt any ice fishing. So the Lake of the Ozarks in the central part of the state offers crappie anglers the best chance to catch a mess of slab crappie—weather permitting.

You might have to break through a thin layer of ice at the boat ramp in the morning, but it will be well worth the effort for the chance to catch some of the biggest crappie of the year. Savvy crappie anglers know that the biggest fish usually move to the shallows first, so they find any possible way to get to open water when that first warming trend of the month arrives.

Throughout the winter, Lake of the Ozarks crappie suspend over deep-water haunts waiting for warmer weather to trigger their spring migration to the shallows. A couple of warm, sunny days in February prompt some of those suspending fish to move closer to the surface to feed on baitfish that rise to the warmer surface water. Slab crappie suspended over a creek channel close to a flat or a bluff with a shallow ledge will move up quickly on the shallow structure after a couple of balmy weather days.

I have lived at the lake for more than 30 years and have never seen it freeze over completely, but during most winters we do have to contend with breaking through ice especially in the coves and the narrower sections of the Niangua arm, upper Osage and the Gravois and Grand Glaize creeks. A mild winter last year allowed me to fish for crappie the whole month of February on my home waters, but during the previous two winters my cove was covered with ice and I was unable to get my boat out until the first week of March.

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

When the weather cooperates, February can be one of the best months for catching the biggest crappie of the year on the central Missouri lake. “Once the lake gets pulled down and stabilizes and the sunlight starts warming up the water it brings the fish up pretty shallow in February,” says guide Terry Blankenship. The Osage Beach angler believes the biggest crappie move shallower faster than the rest of the panfish during the warming trends of February, especially in areas containing dirtier water. He recommends trying the Grand Glaize arm and Indian Creek of the Gravois arm for early slabs in the shallows since the waters in these tributaries tend to warm up faster than the main lake.

Two patterns produce best for Blankenship when he pursues slab crappie throughout February. When the surface water temperature climbs after two or three warm, sunny days, Blankenship knows shad and slab crappie move closer to the surface so he relies on techniques that keep his lures suspended in the shallower strike zone. His favorite tactics for catching these fish are jerking a suspending stickbait and working a jig-and-bobber rig.

Slab crappie will suspend over various depths in February and during the warming trends the fish hold 4 to 8 feet deep on flats in the 10- to 15-foot range or along steeper banks in 20 to 25 feet of water. Blankenship searches for baitfish on his electronics to pinpoint the depth and location of slabs during the warming trends.

The stickbait tactic works best for Blankenship in clear water since the fish can see farther to move up and snatch the suspending lure. So Blankenship favors jerking the stickbait for crappie in the clearest section of the lake from Bagnell Dam to the 10-mile mark and the lower Gravois arm.

The Megabass 3 3/4-inch Vision 95 Is Blankenship’s favorite stickbait to catch both numbers and slab crappie, but the 4 1/3-inch Vision 110 model usually produces the biggest crappie. The guide opts for stickbaits with a tint of blue on the lures such as blue-and-chartreuse. He also likes the lures to have some shades of purple.

Once he finds the baitfish, Blankenship casts to the spot and jerks the stickbait five to seven times on 6- or 8-pound test to make the lure dive down to its maximum depth. Then he lets the lure sit for various lengths of time before twitching it again. “if the water is fairly cold you really have to slow it down a lot,” he says.

After the bite stops on the stickbait, Blankenship will throw the jig-and-bobber setup to the same spot. “A lot of times you can really tear them up then,” he says.

Blankenship uses a small egg-shaped clip-on bobber that he sets about 4 to 6 feet above a 1/16-ounce jighead. He attaches either a Bobby Garland 3-inch Slab Slayer or Baby Shad in blue ice, threadfin shad or bluegrass colors.

The local guide also uses a slow presentation for his bobber tactics. “You can throw it out there and let it sit for 30 seconds sometimes and if you are in the midst of a school one will finally whack it,” he says. Blankenship occasionally twitches the bobber a couple of times and then pauses it, but most of the time he casts the rig beyond his target and slowly reels to where the bobber sits above the fish. In dirty-water situations, he sets his bobber so the jig rests slightly above the tops of brush piles.

The ideal weather for Blankenship’s tactics is a partly cloudy day with a 5 to 10 mph breeze. He notes it is tougher to catch slabs on sunny, calm days, which tend to push the fish down into the brush or under docks.

The pattern for slabs tends to change towards the end of February when the backs of creeks become 5 to 8 degrees warmer than the main lake. “When you find that warmer water the bigger fish have a tendency to go toward the warmer water because the baitfish go there too,” he says.

Although he has caught 15-inch crappie on his home lake in February, Blankenship mostly catches limits of 12-inch slabs during the month. “When you catch a limit of 12-inch fish off of this lake you have really done something,” he says.

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

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

Lake of the Ozarks Osage Arm

Osage Arm Offers Consistent Lake of the Ozarks Fishing

By John Neporadny Jr.

Despite heavy development throughout the years, the lower Osage arm of the Lake of the Ozarks continues to produce good fishing year round.

The Osage arm from the 6 to the 24 mile marker winds around three peninsulas known as Horseshoe, Shawnee and Turkey bends. Running through the heavily populated Osage Beach area, this section of the lake contains several coves loaded with rows of boat docks.

Numerous marinas and huge condominium docks cover large expanses of shoreline in this area. Recreational boat traffic is heavy in this section from Memorial Day to Labor Day, especially at the mouth of the Grand Glaize arm and around the Lodge of the Four Seasons.

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

The water in this section has a little more color in it than the dam area and the Gravois, but still offers good visibility most of the year. Water temperatures stay a little cooler on this main river section so fishing picks up a little later in the spring than on the other parts of the lower lake. However some early season action usually occurs in the bigger coves such as North Buck and Buck creeks.

Here are some tips on how to catch the following species on the lower Osage.


During those first couple of warm days in the winter key on brush piles ranging from 10 to 30 feet deep and float a bobber-and-jig combination over the cover for suspended fish. Set the jig 2 to 3 feet below the plastic bobber and throw the combination around docks, which have brush piles either tied at certain depths along the sides of the boat houses or sunk on the bottom. Docks on the main lake and in the deeper coves produce best for winter crappie.

Use a 1/32-ounce jig in clear, smoke or gray hues for the bobber-and-jig tactic. You can also catch some fish throwing a 1/16-ounce Roadrunner around the same docks.

Lake of the Ozarks

When spring arrives, you can still rely on the bobber and jig but move to shallower docks along the pea gravel shores in the coves and pockets. When working along a barren gravel bank, cast a 1/32-ounce Roadrunner, but if you see a shallow brush pile, toss the bobber and jig to the cover.

After casting the jig past the brush, wind the bobber right into the cover. Waves cause the bobber to rise and fall, which imparts action to the jig below yet keeps the lure in the strike zone longer. The bobber allows you to control the depth of your lure to keep it in front of crappie longer, letting you move the lure slowly to entice sluggish fish holding tight to the cover.

During autumn, throw Roadrunners as you cruise down the banks of wind-blown coves. Sometimes you can find the fish in the same brush piles where they spawn in the spring. However most of the time, you should key on points where you should throw a 1/16 or lighter tube jig.

Use 4- to 6-pound test line for all of your crappie tactics throughout the year.

White Bass

Summer and fall are the two best seasons to fish for white bass in this section of the lake. You can find whites along the main channel in the summertime and fish for them early and late in the day. Late evening is probably the best time to try for white bass.

A favorite tactic of local anglers for summertime is working a 3/8- or 1/2-ounce jigging spoon (white with red eyes) or a white-and-red 1/4-ounce marabou jig 25 to 30 feet deep along the channel break. Select 12- to 15-pound line for the jig and spoon tactics.

Fall is the best season for catching whites on the lower Osage. You can usually start catching fish in late September and pursue whites until November. “October is the prime month for whites though.

A popper-and-jig combination works best along wind-blown points. Remove both hooks from a Rebel Pop-R topwater lure and tie a 24-inch leader line to the rear hook eye, then attach a 1/16-ounce marabou jig (white with red head) to the end of the leader. Just pop it like you normally would work a Pop-R and tie the popper on 15-pound line with 10-pound line for the jig trailer.

The fish chase shad extremely shallow on the points so throw this rig within a couple of feet of the bank. Limits of 15 white bass can be taken easily by running from one windy point to the next, especially on cloudy days.


When the bass fishing gets tough in this section during the summertime, local anglers have another alternative. From June through August, you can keep busy by catfishing.

A favorite tactic for catching catfish is with a modified Carolina rig. Use a main line of 15- to 20-pound test and slip on a 1/2- to 3/4-ounce bullet sinker followed by a swivel. Attached to the swivel is a 48-inch leader with a 2/0 hook on the other end. Complete the rig by cutting a Styrofoam bobber in half and clipping it about a foot above the hook. The float keeps the hook out of the mud so the fish can eat the bait easier. A favorite bait is lake shad, but you can also use bait shrimp, crawfish, liver or hot dogs for this Carolina rig.

Drift coves and try to keep your boat over depths of 6 to 25 feet deep for catfish. For the best results, go with the wind whichever way it is blowing. If it is blowing from the back end of the cove forward, then start at the back end or vice versa.

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

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

Lake of the Ozarks Crappie

Shaky-Head Fishing For Lake of the Ozarks Crappie

By John Neporadny Jr.

One of the latest bass fishing rages is starting to catch on with Lake of the Ozarks crappie anglers as well.

The combination of a jig head and small finesse worm known as a shaky head worm has become the rig many bass pros rely on when the fishing gets tough. A couple of savvy crappie anglers have also discovered a miniature version of the shaky head worm produces fish especially on heavily pressured waters.

While fishing with a buddy a couple of years ago on Lake of the Ozarks, Phil Gardner threw a tube bait around the docks and his partner rigged an Eagle Claw Nitro Trailer on a jig head. “He started absolutely waxing me with those things,” recalls Gardner.

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

When Gardner borrowed some of his partner’s trailer worms and rigged up his own shaky head, he immediately started catching fish. Since then he has employed the jig head and Eagle Claw worm to present to crappie suspended around large private and community docks in the fall and winter on his home lake. “I have become a firm believer in the thing because I guarantee it will out catch a regular crappie tube 5 to 1,” Gardner says.

A variety of jig heads will work with the Eagle Claw worm, but Gardner prefers a CT Minnow Jig, which has a bullet-shaped head and a keeper barb to secure the worm to the jig better. When rigged properly, the worm should be straight in line with the jig head. “I think it falls a little better (with the minnow head) and that bullet-style head comes through the brush a lot better than a round head,” says Gardner.

Throughout autumn and early winter, Gardner prefers his shaky head to fall at a faster rate so he opts for a 1/16-ounce jig head. However, when the fish become sluggish in the dead of winter, Gardner selects a 1/32-ounce jig for a slow-falling shaky head. The Missouri angler favors a chartreuse Nitro worm for most of his shaky head presentations, but he sometimes tries a white worm that he colors the tip with a dash of chartreuse Spike-It spray.

Gardner’s presentation consists of pitching his shaky head along the sides or into the wells of docks and letting the lure pendulum back to the boat without reeling in line. He believes the worm has a more natural fall with the pendulum presentation, and he creates more tail action on the worm when he shakes his rod as the lure sinks.

The crappie veteran claims the key to his presentation is pinpointing the depth of the fish. Once he discovers the strike zone, Gardner can lengthen or shorten his pitch so his shaky head will swing back to the same depth each time he presents the shaky head. When Gardner guesses the combo has reached the strike zone, he starts shaking the worm to trigger a bite.

“Most of the time they will hit the thing on the fall if they are really aggressive,” says Gardner. “A lot of the fish will be suspended 2 to 4 feet deep under the foam and they will knock 6 inches of slack out of your line.” While the fish will thump the shaky head some days, there are other times Gardner has to pay close attention to his line for that telltale mushy feeling or watch for the line to go slack on the descent.

Although line watching is essential to his presentation, Gardner prefers using clear 4-pound P-Line because he believes a high-visibility line spooks the fish in clear water. He pitches his shaky head on a 5 1/2-foot light-action Bass Pro Shops Wally Marshall Signature Series Spinning Rod with an ultralight Shimano spinning reel.

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

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


November 5, 2016 by FLW Communications

BRANSON, Mo. – Pat Fisher of Colbert, Georgia, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 15 pounds even Saturday to win the Costa FLW Series Championship on Table Rock Lake, which featured 192 of the top semi-pro boaters and co-anglers from across the globe. Fisher’s three-day total of 15 bass weighing 40 pounds, 4 ounces, earned him $50,200 and a coveted spot in the 2017 Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing.

“I haven’t fished at this level in years, so this tournament was like a family reunion,” said Fisher, who spent eight years on the FLW Tour before stepping away in 2008. “I’ve always been very competitive, so it feels great to win.

“I came into this event after having the worst practice I’ve ever had,” Fisher continued. “On Day One, I went to a 200-yard stretch of bank way up the James River that I had a little success on. I sat in about 4 feet of water, throwing to bass that were shallower – maybe about a foot down. It was cloudy, so I threw a ¼-ounce white and blue-colored Boogerman Buzzbait and was able to catch nine keepers including a decent kicker.”

On Day Two, competitors were held at the marina for two hours due to excessive fog. Although the delay cut a large chunk out of Fisher’s day, he said he was still able to salvage a solid limit.

“I ran back up to the James River area and arrived at 11 a.m.,” said Fisher. “It was bright and slick so I knew they wouldn’t eat the buzzbait. I picked up a custom shaky-head rigged with a green pumpkin-colored Zoom Trick Worm and threw it around for a while. The largest piece of laydown in the area – a tree – produced around 30 fish for me. It was my magic tree.”

Fisher said he capped off the event by returning to his main stretch on Day Three, but this time, he was able to cover water more efficiently.

“I left two really big fish up there, so I narrowed my area to a 75-yard stretch,” said Fisher. “I threw to any cover I could. After the sun came out, I went back to my magic tree and caught six or seven big ones on the buzzbait. I guess it took me some more time during the tournament to figure them out.”

The top finishing boater from each of the six Costa FLW Series divisions that qualified for the 2017 Forrest Wood Cup were:


1st: Pat Fisher, Colbert, Ga., 15 bass, 40-4, $50,200


2nd: Cody Bird, Granbury, Texas, 15 bass, 38-11, $25,000


4th: Old Spice pro Greg Bohannan, Bentonville, Ark., 15 bass, 33-1, $15,000 + $2,000 Ranger Cup bonus


11th: Joel Richardson, Kernersville, N.C., 10 bass, 19-14, $4,000


29th: Roy Hawk, Lake Havasu City, Ariz., six bass, 15-10, $2,500


51st: Hyo chul Kim, South Korea, six bass, 11-15

Additionally, the overall top five finishers that were not already selected as the highest finisher in their division qualify for the 2017 Forrest Wood Cup. Those five anglers were:

3rd: Zack Birge, Blanchard, Okla., 15 bass, 36-14, $20,000

5th: Christopher Jones, Bokoshe, Okla., 14 bass, 31-7, $10,100

6th: Travis Fox, Rogers, Ark., 12 bass, 28-3, $8,000

7th: Jeremy Lawyer, Sarcoxie, Mo., 14 bass, 28-0, $7,000

8th: Bradford Beavers, Ridgeville, S.C., 14 bass, 27-14, $6,000

Complete results can be found at

The 2017 Forrest Wood Cup will be held Aug. 11-13 at Lake Murray in Columbia, South Carolina.

Tyler Sheppard of Hermitage, Pennsylvania, won the co-angler division and $30,100, including a Ranger Z175 boat with a 90-horsepower Evinrude outboard with a three-day total of 10 bass weighing 23 pounds, 10 ounces. Michael Black of Toledo, Illinois, finished in second place with 10 bass weighing 22 pounds, 1 ounce, worth $12,500.

The top 10 co-anglers finished:

1st: Tyler Sheppard, Hermitage, Pa., 10 bass, 23-10, $30,100

2nd: Michael Black, Toledo, Ill., 10 bass, 22-1, $12,500

3rd: Richard Jordan, Muncy Valley, Pa., eight bass, 16-5, $10,000

4th: Robert Myers, Broken Arrow, Okla., seven bass, 13-8, $7,550

5th: David Hudson, Jasper, Ala., five bass, 11-2, $5,000

6th: Raymond Tak, Los Angeles, Calif., five bass, 10-14, $4,000

7th: Benjamin Tawney, Slippery Rock, Pa., five bass, 10-8, $3,500

8th: Joe Lane, Republic, Mo., five bass, 9-5, $3,000

9th: Jonathan Shockey, Fort Smith, Ark., three bass, 8-7, $2,500

10th: Rob Bueltmann, Osage Beach, Mo., four bass, 8-6, $2,000

The Costa FLW Series Championship at Table Rock Lake was hosted by

In Costa FLW Series regular-season competition, each division competes in three tournaments, with competitors vying for valuable points to earn their way into the top 40 and the opportunity to fish in the Costa FLW Series Championship.

For complete details and updated information visit For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Costa FLW Series on Facebook at and on Twitter at

For More News From FLW Fishing visit

About FLW

FLW is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money in 2016 across five tournament circuits. Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, with offices in Minneapolis, FLW conducts more than 235 bass-fishing tournaments annually across the United States and sanctions tournaments in Canada, China, Mexico, South Africa and South Korea. FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW” television show, broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, while FLW Bass Fishing magazine delivers cutting-edge tips from top pros. For more information visit and follow FLW at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat: @FLWFishing.

Davy Hite Leaving Elite Series For New Challenge

November 7, 2016

Davy Hite Leaving Elite Series For New Challenge

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Davy Hite, the 1999 Bassmaster Classic champion and two-time Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year, won’t be competing on the Elite Series in 2017, but his fans will be seeing him more than ever. Hite has accepted a position as color commentator for “Bassmaster LIVE,” “The Bassmasters” television show on ESPN2 and all other B.A.S.S. programming, the company announced today.

“I view this more as a transition, rather than a retirement,” Hite said. “In a perfect world, I wish I could keep competing for a few more years. But this was a golden opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.

“This is a way for me to continue to have a positive impact and stay involved with the sport of bass fishing, which has meant everything to me.”

Hite, 51, has won more than $2 million in his 23-year career, which includes a Forrest Wood Cup title in 1998, in addition to the ’99 Classic crown and Angler of the Year titles in 1997 and 2002. His B.A.S.S. career includes eight first-place finishes, 14 Bassmaster Classic appearances, and 45 Top 10 finishes. The Ninety Six, S.C., resident has finished in the money 140 times in 254 total tournaments.

“At the age of 27, I quit a full-time job to become a tournament bass fisherman, which had been my dream since I was 12 years old,” Hite said. “It was a leap of faith. Some of my friends thought I was crazy. This is different, but at the same time it’s a leap of faith, as well.”

Jerry McKinnis, one of B.A.S.S.’s principal owners, as well as a pioneer in outdoor television programming, is pleased to have Hite as a full-time addition to the B.A.S.S. team.

“I’ve known for a long time that Davy would be a great on-air talent,” said McKinnis, who praised Hite’s work on the “First Look” segments of tournament coverage. “I realized very quickly how comfortable Davy was in doing this. He’s good at asking the right questions. But it’s not an interview with him, it’s more like a conversation, and that’s important.”

Over the past three years, Hite has worked increasingly with the “Bassmaster LIVE” hosts Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona and Elite Series emcee Dave Mercer.

“I’ve enjoyed working with all the folks at B.A.S.S., both on-camera and behind-the-scenes,” Hite said. “But I never had a clue it could turn into something like this. Again, this was too good an opportunity to pass up.

“I think I’m still competitive enough to win the first tournament on the Elite Series next year. But at the same time, I knew in my heart that I didn’t want to fish another 20 years.

“You never know if you’ll get a second chance to make a transition like this one, and stay involved in the sport you love. It was reassuring when I presented this to my sponsors, and they all agreed with my decision.”

Hite finished 56th in the final 2016 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. He’s had at least one Top 10 finish in each of the last three Elite Series seasons.

“We’re really excited about Davy Hite joining our team,” said Mike McKinnis, vice president of media communications for JM Associates, which produces B.A.S.S. television and Internet content. “He brings some inside knowledge to the broadcast. He knows what the pros are doing and why they’re doing it, which is really important in our ‘Bassmaster LIVE’ coverage.”

Tommy Sanders echoed those thoughts, saying, “Davy has got one-of-a-kind perspective on tournament bass fishing. Just as importantly, he’s got a great ability to discern when what seems to be a small story is just as important as a big one. Plus, I just like the guy.”

Hite’s first appearance under the new arrangement will be at the Bassmaster Elite at Cherokee Lake, Tennessee, Feb. 9-12, 2017, and he’ll be an integral part of the programming for the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro in Houston March 24-26.

His current sponsors include: Phoenix Boats, Evinrude, Gopher Industrial, Costa, Bass Pro Shops, Humminbird, Rapala, Storm Lures, Minn Kota, Advance Land and Timber, Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits, VMC and Buckeye Lures.

For More B.A.S.S. News, visit

Crochet Claims First B.A.S.S. Victory On Home Waters

October 29, 2016

Crochet Claims First B.A.S.S. Victory On Home Waters


Bassmaster Elite Series pro Cliff Crochet cashed in on his home-waters advantage Saturday to claim his first B.A.S.S. victory at the Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana.

Sitting in seventh place after the second day of competition Friday, Crochet rallied today with an 18-pound, 4-ounce limit to win the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open and earn the grand prize of a $45,000 Skeeter ZX200/Yamaha VF200LA rig and $6,741 in cash. The Pierre Part, La., angler finished with a three-day total of 46-06 to earn his first Bassmaster victory and a berth in the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro.

Crochet described today’s fishing as “slow and steady.” Mixing in some small keepers with some kicker bass, Crochet steadily caught fish throughout the day. He finished his limit by about 11 a.m., and then caught his biggest fish of the day — a 5-12 largemouth — at about 1:45 p.m.

Since he knew the waters so well, Crochet decided to “fish history” during his practice to either confirm or rule out fishing spots. “I practiced really hard,” he said. “(Eliminating water) made for some long, boring practices.”

The strategy paid off, though, as Crochet was able to narrow the vast waters of the basin down to three areas for the tournament. “But two of them didn’t shine, so that just nailed me down to one area,” he said.

His key bait for the whole tournament was a Luck-E-Strike Ringmaster creature bait that he punched through mats with a 1 1/2-ounce weight.

Another local favorite, Greg Hackney of Gonzales, La., retained second place with 42-4. Each day he caught fish early but lost a big one this morning that he said “kind of hurt my feelings.”

His two key lures were a black/chartreuse Strike King 1.5 Square Bill crankbait and a black-and-blue Strike King Hack Attack Jig and a Strike King Rage Craw.

“I basically caught everything off of cypress trees” he said. “The area I fished had a lot of logs and big stumps, but I didn’t catch any fish off of those. Every fish came off a green tree.” Most of the bass he caught were 1 to 5 feet deep.

Other anglers finishing in the top five of the pro division were Cody Bird, Granbury, Texas, third place, 42-2; David Cavell, Prairieville, La., fourth, 39-15; and Toby Hartsell, Afton, Okla., fifth, 39-14.

Co-angler Blake Naquin of Thibodaux, La., went wire-to-wire to win the first-place prize of a $30,000 Nitro Z18/Mercury 150 Pro XS package with a total of 23-9. “I caught fish mostly flipping a trick worm with a 3/16-ounce tungsten weight in the morning and then in the afternoon I would follow it up with a June bug Zoom Super Hawg with a 3/4-ounce weight,” he said.

The Phoenix Boats Big Bass Award of $750 went to Hunter Parra of Houma, La., with a 7-12 largemouth. Vince Todaro of Luling, La., weighed in a 4-5 largemouth to earn the Phoenix Boats Big Bass Award on the co-angler side worth $250.

Fred Roumbanis of London, Ark., received the Livingston Lures Leader Award of $250 for finishing as the top pro on Day 2. Finishing as the Day 2 leader on the co-angler side, Naquin received a Livingston Lures gift pack worth $250.

Crochet also earned the A.R.E. Top Angler Award of $500 for being the highest-finishing angler using A.R.E. products.

For more information on B.A.S.S News visit

Fall Fishing for White Bass

Lake of the Ozarks’ White Bass Turn On In Fall

by John Neporadny Jr.

Anglers who store their rods and reels in the fall to concentrate on hunting miss out on some of the Lake of the Ozarks‘ hottest fishing action.

When chilling northern winds signal the end of summer, white bass invade the shallows in search-and-feed missions for shad. From the middle of September to early November, whites congregate on main lake structure where the wind is blowing in, such as rocky points and bluffs. While a variety of techniques will catch white bass in the fall at the Lake of the Ozarks, two of the most productive methods are popping a topwater chugger-and-jig combination and twitching a shallow-diving stickbait.

The combination of a topwater lure and a doll-fly trailer tricks white bass of all sizes. Over the years Bruce Gier, a former guide from Eldon, Mo., has been refining a technique he learned from a fellow angler of catching white bass on a frog-colored chugger with a trailer jig. Gier has switched
to a shad-colored Rebel Pop-R or a Heddon Tiny Chugger with a white 1/16th-ounce feather jig. Since white bass tend to tear up plastic-skirted jigs, Gier prefers using feather jigs as trailers. “You catch so many fish on the chugger and jig that you’ll have to replace the plastic bodies all the time,” he says.

Gier casts his rig with a bait-cast or spinning tackle and 8- or 10-pound test line. He ties an 18-inch leader of 10-pound test on the back hook of the chugger and then to the jig. He also removes the front hook of the chugger to keep the leader line from tangling up in the hooks.

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

In October, Gier searches for white bass along chunk rock banks at the mouth of the Gravois arm and in the North Shore area. The Missouri angler also finds the fish along these banks in November if the water temperature stays in the 50- to 65-degree range.

Casting as close to the bank as possible, Gier retrieves the chugger-and-jig combination in a popping manner. “The popping imitates another white
bass chasing a minnow on the surface,” Gier says. “The popping noise excites the fish below. They’re going to come up to check out that noise because they just can’t stand it.”

The speed of the retrieve can vary, but the action of the chugger must be a deliberate pop. “The chugger’s got to throw that water out front,” Gier says. “It’s got to look like an explosion.”

Gier jerks the chugger and reels at the same time. He also makes sure he works the rig all the way to the boat. “A lot of times, they’ll hit it right when you’re picking it up out of the water.”

Sometimes Gier catches a double on his rig. “If you ever catch one on the topwater lure, nine out of 10 times you’ll catch one on the crappie jig.” When he hooks one on the chugger, Gier lets the fish swim around until another white hits the trailer jig.

The chugger and jig technique works even without much wind. The chugging noise attracts the whites if they are in the vicinity. “Whenever the white bass are running, you can catch just as many as you want,” Gier says.

Twitching a stickbait for white bass along wind-blown banks has been a productive technique for me throughout the years. I alternate between three types of jerk baits, selecting the Storm Lures Junior ThunderStick and 4-inch Rebel Minnow when I want to catch numbers of whites or a Smithwick Rattlin’ Rogue in the 4 1/2- to 5 1/2-inch model when I’m after trophy-size whites or hybrids. These lures seem to best resemble the size of the shad I see on the Lake of the Ozarks during the fall. Chrome or silver and black are the best colors for the Rebel Minnow and Storm Lures Junior ThunderStick, but I’ve also had some good catches on a Junior ThunderStick in a rainbow trout hue. The biggest whites seem to prefer a Rogue with a black back, gold sides and orange belly.

The minnow baits have worked extremely well for me on those cloudy, windy days in late October and all through November. These lures will also take fish on sunny days, but you need a combination of wind and shade to draw strikes from white bass.

My favorite areas to throw the jerk baits are windy points, channel banks and bluffs in the Gravois and Grand Glaize arms. I’ve also caught some fish on long, shallow points with this technique, but the most productive structure features rock ledges which attract both baitfish and the white bass. When the waves crash up against the rocks, the baitfish schools scatter along the ledges. The white bass then pick off their prey by moving up into the rocks or waiting in deeper water for the baitfish to get washed off the ledges. Clear-water areas are also best since white bass feed primarily by sight.

When I find this type of situation, I throw the minnow bait up close to the bank and start twitching the lure along the ledge to the deeper water. To catch a prowling white’s attention, I jerk the minnow bait sharply to make the lure’s silver sides flash. I rapidly jerk the lure three times, then pause it momentarily before repeating the twitching process again. A lot of the strikes occur during the pause. Since I’m trying to trigger a reaction strike, I never let the lure sit still long. This prevents the fish from getting a good look at the baitfish imitator in the clear water. If I see a white bass slash at the lure and miss, I keep the lure moving at a slower pace, which occasionally draws a strike from the same fish.

If the three-count retrieve fails to produce, I vary the cadence of my jerks until I find a rhythm the white bass prefer. I also work the retrieve all the way back because I’ve had fish strike at the lure right next to the boat.

As the weather turns cooler in the fall, the white bass action gets hotter at the Lake of the Ozarks. If you want to try some of this exciting fall white bass fishing and need more information on lodging and other facilities at the Lake of the Ozarks or to receive a vacation guide, call the Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-FUN-LAKE or visit the web site at

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

Power Generation and Bass Fishing

Watch the Flow for Fall Bass

By John Neporadny Jr.

The Lake of the Ozarks is usually low with little flow during October but power generation could still play a role in the fall bass action.

“Ameren brings the lake down about a foot right after Labor Day in anticipation of fall rain and that has an impact on the fish,” says Jeff Green, Ameren Missouri shoreline management supervisor who frequently competes in tournaments on his home waters of Lake of the Ozarks.

Green suggests anglers do some homework the week before fishing by checking the lake’s flow discharge rates on the Ameren web site ( “Generation would be a positive thing for the fishing,” says Green. “The likelihood of generation is low because that is usually our low-water time and there is usually not a lot of rain.”

A rainy late summer/early fall could cause Ameren to generate in October and create current throughout the lake. “Current is just like a big conveyor belt of food so a big fat bass that is still in hot water it going to go to (a main lake) point to feed if there is heavy generation,” says Green, who suggests anglers should check about five main lake points before trying another pattern.

If generation has been light the week before fishing, Green recommends keying on specific cover such as a larger boulder or brush pile on the point rather than the drop-offs where bass congregate during heavy generation. He notes bass will scatter if generation has been shut off, but the fish will still be holding to some type of cover on the points.

Checking out the weather patterns for the lake the week before a trip to the lake will also help anglers prepare for their time on the water. “If we have had five cloudy days before a trip the fish are probably not going to be glued to brush piles,” says Green. “They are not going to be seeking out cover, there are going to be cruising.”

Cruising the lake should be a priority for anglers, according to Green. “Get a feel for what the water looks like in each of the arms so spend a little boat time and go from the (main lake) point all the way to the back to get a feel for where the shad are because the bass are going to be relating to the shad,” says Green. The Osage Beach angler suggests throwing a deep-diving crankbait to cover a lot of water and key on bass suspended above brush piles.

“The first week of October the fish are in transition,” Green says. “They have been down in their summer haunts of brush piles or points but the water is coming down a little bit and it is at its clearest point. The young- of-the-year shad are usually coming up. So the bass in those deeper brush piles start to suspend which makes them harder to catch.”

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

Green has planted numerous brush piles in the lake throughout the years and cashes plenty of tournament checks when bass are holding in his fish attractors. The local expert recalls cashing some checks in the annual Big Bass Bash when he and his partner caught some bass in the 5-pound range from his brush piles. “One of my biggest fish in the Big Bass Bash though was on a spinnerbait 3 feet deep in the upper Glaize which had turned dingy due to wind/wave action,” he says.

Green’s favorite lures for working in the brush piles include a green pumpkin 3/4- or 1-ounce jig with a 5-inch Chompers’ twin-tail grub (in green pumpkin or pumpkin candy hues) or a Texas-rigged plum 10-inch Berkley Power Worm with a 1/2-ounce sinker on 20-pound fluorocarbon line. He suggests Texas-rigged plastic craws or hawg-style baits and Senkos rigged on shaky jigheads will also produce in the brush. Matching the young-of-the-year shad with a smaller paddletail worm also triggers strikes from quality bass suspended over the brush.

“All the strategies that time of year have challenges,” says Green. “You are not going to go out and know exactly what the fish are doing because they are doing a lot of things. The morning bite is going to be very important and you need to have a buzz bait tied on one of your rods.” The local angler suggests using a 1/2-ounce buzzer in chartreuse in murky water and white in clearer water. A Zara Spook will also draw bigger fish to the top in the clear water.

Green advises throwing topwaters on the main lake points in the morning. “If you don’t get bit on the points pretty quick, you need to start working your way back where you might find some of those larger bass chasing shad on the flats,” says Green. He recommends targeting docks on the flats since bigger bass use the docks as ambush points.

The lower lake usually yields bigger bass, but Green notes these fish are tougher to catch since many of the fish are suspending over deeper water. “The range of top to bottom is a much bigger area for the fish to suspend in,” warns Green. “One of the better strategies is to narrow that range and start fishing shallow water and you need to do that by fishing up the tributaries.” He recommends targeting shallower bass by trying the logjams and shallow boat docks on the Grand Glaize, Niangua and Gravois arms and the Osage arm from the 50-mile marker to Warsaw.

Docks will be key targets during the fall so Green hopes dock owners and anglers will be considerate of each other. “We have periodic conflicts there,” he admits. “It doesn’t happen very often but it does happen. It is important to recognize that the lake is here for many people to enjoy. We just need to be courteous and safe.”

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
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

Lake of the Ozarks White Bass

Fall Tricks for Taking Lake of the Ozarks White Bass

by John Neporadny Jr.

When chilling northern winds signal the arrival of fall, white bass invade the shallows in search-and-feed missions on shad at Lake of the Ozarks.

Anglers who store their rods and reels to concentrate on hunting at this time miss out on some of the year’s hottest fishing action. Veteran Lake of the Ozarks anglers have experienced this fall phenomenon numerous times and have developed effective methods for taking the marauding whites. Try these tips for catching white bass the next time you visit the lake in autumn.

Roostertails, Jigs and Chuggers

From the middle of September to early November, look for spots where the wind is blowing in on rocky points. Three lures catch plenty of whites in the fall. Use Roostertails or marabou crappie jigs in sunny weather or a topwater chugger on overcast days.

The spinner on a Roostertail makes it an easy lure to use for whites. Just cast the lure close the bank and crank it out. If the white bass are around, the spinner will draw a strike. Throw a one-sixth ounce white Roostertail in clear water and switch to yellow for dingy water. Use an ultralight spinning rod and reel filled with 6-pound test line.

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

Since whites cruise around in shallow, rocky areas, you should retrieve the Roostertail rapidly to prevent hanging up in the rocks. Anglers who have trouble retrieving fast can switch to a one-eighth ounce Roostertail which falls slower. Plenty of white bass can also be caught on one-eighth ounce marabou crappie jigs. Employ the same fast, steady retrieve as the Roostertail when swimming the lure through the shallows. But when the lure reaches deeper water, let it drop and bounce the jig along the bottom.

Topwater chuggers are another favorite bait for catching fall white bass. Chuggers 2 1/2 inches long in shad colors, such as black and silver or clear with black back, work best. Switch to 8-pound test when throwing the chugger.

Retrieving the topwater lure in a steady, straight manner entices the whites. Keep chugging the lure all the way to the boat even if a fish rolls at it and misses. The fish will usually hit it before it reaches the boat. If you stop the lure, the white bass usually turns away from it.

Twitching Rapalas

On overcast fall days, look for whites on the windy sides of points. When you find a promising spot, toss a floating Rapala into the shallows. A variety of minnow-type baits will catch whites, especially a 2 1/2-inch blue-and-white or black-and-silver belly Rapala. Use a light- to medium action rod and spinning reel filled with 4-pound test line.

Experiment with retrieves, varying from a slow, twitching motion to a stop-and-go or a steady cranking of two to three turns on the reel and then stop and let the Rapala float back to the surface. Just vary the speed until you find a retrieve that really turns the fish on.

When the wind makes casting the lightweight lure difficult, attach a small split shot to the line about 2 feet above the lure. The extra weight makes casting easier, but has little effect on the lure’s action if retrieved in the steady, twitching motion.

To double your fun, add a trailer jig to the Rapala. Tie on a 1/32-ounce white, chartreuse or yellow crappie jig on a 6-pound test leader line. The leader should be about 30 inches long. If you use a shorter leader, the tailer lure will get tangled up with the Rapala. With the extra lure, you can frequently catch two white bass at the same time.

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

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