Fall Bass Fishing Lake of the Ozarks
The same scenario is played out every fall on Lake of the Ozarks.
Black pods of shad are everywhere. The constant flicking of baitfish on the surface is a pleasing sound to both anglers and bass on a peaceful sunny afternoon. Then all of a sudden the water explodes and boils as bass bust through the schools of shad. Occasionally the wake of a bass can be seen in the shallows as it hotly pursues a baitfish.
After spending the hot summer slumbering in deep-water haunts, bass follow baitfish in the fall to the shallows, where the cooler water triggers a feeding frenzy. The recurring fall scenes of bass busting schools of shad make this season one of the most exciting and frustrating times to pursue bass.
The thrill of watching these fish churn the surface climaxes when your topwater lure disappears in a frothy explosion. That excitement can quickly turn into frustration, however, when you make countless casts to these marauders and the fish continue to ignore your offerings. The frustration also continues to mount when you continue to switch lures with the same results.
The surface commotion makes it easier to locate bass in this situation, but anglers still face the challenge of tricking these fish into biting their offering rather than the smorgasbord of natural bait in the vicinity.
Lake of the Ozarks guide Skip Surbaugh favors throwing a topwater lure when bass bust the surface. “I’m a (Zara) Spook freak,” he confesses. “I carry a Spook rigged up with me all the time in the fall.” The local guide occasionally throws a Rebel Pop-R at surface explosions, but the Super Spook is his top choice for catching big bass in autumn.
Surbaugh selects a chrome-color Spook that he retrieves in an erratic fashion. He walks the lure quickly in short jerky motions by constantly popping the rod with his wrists. The action makes the lure pop and spit while it walks across the surface. Sometimes Surbaugh retrieves the lures quickly and then pauses it to trigger a strike.
If a fish misses his Spook, Surbaugh follows up by throwing a Zoom Fluke or Yamamoto Senko to the blow-up. He opts for a 6-inch shad-pattern Fluke or a light-colored 4-inch Senko and impales both lures on a wide gap hook (3/0 to 4/0 for the Fluke and 3/0 for the Senko). Letting the lure flutter down is Surbaughs’s favorite follow-up presentation for the Fluke; he prefers walking the Senko in the same fashion as a Spook.
When a bass busts the surface, Surbaugh always casts past the explosion and then retrieves his lures back through that spot. He makes a few deliveries to the surface commotion before trying a new target. “I don’t spend a lot of time on that, maybe two shots at it,” he says.
With all that surface commotion, you figure a bass should hit about anything you throw over there. But when strikes are few and the frustration mounts, just keep trying because there is something the fish will bite.
For information on lodging and other facilities at the Lake of the Ozarks or to receive a free 162-page 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.