Tackling turnover to catch Lake of the Ozarks fall crappie
The bane of bass anglers in the fall can also lead to cases of anxiety for crappie anglers when cooler weather arrives at Lake of the Ozarks.
Bass anglers frequently use the fall turnover as an excuse for their tough day on the water and crappie anglers can do the same because the turnover has the same numbing effect on crappie as it does on bass. However savvy crappie anglers at Lake of the Ozarks know fish will still bite when a lake is turning over.
Lake of the Ozarks guide Terry Blankenship heads for the shallows when the fall turnover occurs on his home lake. “You can catch some big fish during that turnover too,” he says. “The bigger fish seem to be more adapted to that water change and adjust better.”
When Lake of the Ozarks turns over, Blankenship heads to the backs of coves and creeks where shad have migrated to the cooler water. “As the baitfish go the game fish go after them,” he says.
Blankenship looks for any laydowns or submerged logs near the bank where crappie hold close to the cover. He also targets shallow docks. “A lot of times you can find those fish tight to the docks right up underneath them,” he says.
When keying on the shallow wood, Blankenship prefers casting to the cover with a jig-and-bobber rig. He favors an egg-shaped float with about a 3/4-inch diameter. “I try not to get one too big because I don’t want the fish to have to fight that bobber,” he said. The guide also likes that size bobber because it is easier to cast than smaller floats.
Blankenship’s favorite lures for bobber fishing are Bobby Garland Baby Shads, Baby Shad Swim’Rs and 3-inch Slab Slay’Rs in blue ice or bright colors (white/chartreuse, pink/chartreuse, red/chartreuse or yellow). He attaches his soft plastics to a 1/16-ounce jighead most of the time but will downscale to a 1/32-oucne jighead for fishing in ultra-shallow water.
The local guide suggests using little or no movement for the jig-and-bobber presentation. “It is typical to move it a bit if you have a feeling fish are in that cover sometimes it doesn’t hurt to let it sit for a little bit because that fish has the bait in its strike zone but it is just not that active. So the lure is just sitting there and a lot of times the fish just can’t stand it so it will go ahead and hit the jig.”
When targeting shallow docks Blankenship prefers shooting his lures to catch crappie hanging under the dock’s floatation. His standard dock shooting setup for turnover crappie is a 3-inch Slab Slay’R on a 1/16-ounce jighead. He favors the Slab Slay’R because it skips well under the dock and is a larger bait that draws strikes from bigger fish.
While shooting a dock Blankenship immediately starts retrieving his lure after it stops skipping because he knows crappie will be closer to the floatation than the bottom. He usually retrieves his jig anywhere from near the surface to about 6 feet deep.
For information on lodging and other facilities at the Lake of the Ozarks or to receive a free vacation guide, call the Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-FUN-LAKE or visit the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitors Bureau web site at funlake.com.
For copies of John Neporadny’s THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Guide call 573/365-4296 or visit www.jnoutdoors.com.