Archive for fall bass fishing

Lake of the Ozarks Suspended Bass

Solving Suspended Lake of the Ozarks Bass Under Docks

By John Neporadny Jr.

Sunny autumn days have positioned Lake of the Ozarks bass in the shady areas of docks on main lake flats Pitching to the shady areas usually produces a bite, but after a few hours of sunshine in the morning, the clouds roll in, the shade lines disappear and the bite slows.

What does Denny Brauer do in this situation on his former home waters?

Instead of pitching to specific dark areas of the dock, Brauer saturates the entire floating structure with his presentations. “The fish are still there but with the cloud cover they could be anywhere in that area,” said the former Bassmaster Classic champ. “What I find in the fall is that it is not about keying on the docks that have the good brush piles like I do in the summertime and late spring. I key on suspended fish. There is so much bait on the surface that those fish don’t want to be down 10 to 15 feet deep in a brush pile. They want to be suspended under the floatation at basically the same level as the forage. So I swim a lot of jigs this time of year.”

Brauer’s choice for swimming around docks to cover water quickly is a white 3/8-ounce Strike King Pro-Model Jig tipped with a white Strike King Denny Brauer Magnum Chunk. “That combination gives you plenty of weight to pitch it with but it is very, very buoyant.”

A buoyant jig-and-chunk combo is crucial to Brauer’s presentation since he tries to swim the jig less than 2 feet under the surface to keep it close to the foam floatation where bass are waiting to ambush baitfish. The Missouri pro positions his boat near the front of the dock and pitches his jig to the back corners inside the boat well and to the outside back edges of the docks. When his jig lands, Brauer immediately engages his bait-cast reel and starts swimming the lure as close as possible to the floatation.

Throughout his retrieve, Brauer keeps his rod at the 9 and 10 o’clock positions, which better prepares him for the quick strikes that occur when bass lash out from the dock. “If you get the rod too high you are going to get in trouble (setting the hook).”

“I’m trying not to just throw it out there and reel it in. I try to make it swim a little erratically on the way in with more or less a pumping action.”

Swimming the jig at various speeds also improves Brauer’s success rate. “I have seen at times when they have wanted it moving fairly fast along the side of a dock.”

Running a spinnerbait close to the dock foam will also trigger strikes, but Brauer believes swimming a jig will tempt more finicky fish. “There are a lot of days that the jig will out-fish the spinnerbait even though you have to move it faster because they don’t want all that flash and vibration. They want something subtle.”

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 B.A.S.S. Times.

The Fall Feeding Frenzy

By Marc Rogers

 

Fall Bass Fishing

The transition from summer to fall is one of my favorite times to bass fish. Many of the bass are getting ready for the fall feeding frenzy while there are still a few left holding onto the summer patterns. Fishing areas for bass where they are holding to cover and structure are generally over. The thermocline is a thing of the past in the Midwest Region as the lakes begin to turnover.

Bass know that colder times are on the way when the evening temperature cools the water surface. This causes the denser, cooler water to fall into the depths pushing the warmer water to the surface. The baitfish begin to school so thick on the surface of the coves of lakes it appears an angler could walk across them without getting their feet wet. Bass are quick to recognize the baitfish and feed heavily on them. There are many ways to catch bass during this season but the most exciting is with a top-water lure.

On large lakes the fall transition does not occur at the same time throughout the entire body of water.  The upper ends and major tributaries generally start the change to the fall patterns before the lower lake. This is when fishing location can be the difference in an angler having a productive day or a fishless day. Listening to other angles success or failures can cause more problems than help if the success stories do not include the location.

Midwest Fishing Tackle Pro-Staff Member Alton Hunter says “when I am not having much success catching bass in the early fall I change colors or depth. However, slight changes in both are often all that is necessary. Slight changes are much more pronounced in the fall than any other times of the year.”  He refers to changing from a brown/orange to a brown/green crawdad colored crankbait or presenting a lure at four feet instead of seven feet deep.  Alton says a minimal change can make a big difference.

Watching the baitfish movement is often the key to locating bass during the early fall. The bass are preparing for winter and will follow the forage. Finding the schools of baitfish is generally easy because they cruise just under the surface and cause a slight disturbance in the water. While watching for the surface action of the baitfish bass will make it quite clear when they are near and feeding. The water will explode just after the baitfishes begin breaking the surface as the feeding frenzy begins.  There are several ways to catch these feeding bass and shad imitating lures are the best choice.

Pro-Staff Member, Aaron Hunter, relies on the Zoom Super Fluke for most of his shad imitating presentations. He says, “The fluke is my favorite because it is so versatile. I can work it on or just below the surface as well as all the way to the bottom.”  He reported he has tried swim baits but still relies on the fluke when others use swim baits. Aaron agreed, top-water lures are the most exciting to use because of the violent strikes but many times the sub-surface presentations produce the bigger bass.  He likes to cast a lip-less crankbait into the school of surface feeding bass and let it fall. He said “I have found many times the bigger bass are below the schools waiting for the falling wounded baitfish. I let the lure fall about five feet below the surface and start cranking with a lift and fall presentation.”

When trying to put a limit in the live well to cull from I prefer a top-water presentation. My first choice is the Rebel Pop-R followed by the Storm Chug Bug. The Pop-R is a great popper and the Chug Bug gives the popping sound with the ability to slide the lure back and forth similar to a Zara Spook. Once a limit is caught I start with a wide wobble crankbait like the Storm Wiggle Wart. I can cover a lot of water with a crankbait and it is quite effective for fall bass when they are chasing baitfish. Large bass can be taken on top-water lures but generally the schooling fish are just solid legal bass and the bigger ones do not reside in these schools.

The bass are quite aggressive during the fall and will not hesitate to chase fast moving lures. However, if the aggressive bite is not working it pays to slow down and present jigs on secondary points where they may still be waiting to make the fall migration in search of baitfish. Aaron said “I always have a jig tied on a rod every time I am on the water. The jig is still my go to lure for a big bass anytime of the year. I start out swimming it just off the bottom and only drag it on the bottom if the slower presentation is necessary.”

Fall is a great time to experiment and allow the bass to tell you what is the best presentation is.  Top-water lures are the most exciting but will not always produce the biggest bass. Also, not all of the bass are making the fall transition at the same time. The main lake is usually the last area where this change takes place but keep you eyes open in search of the schools of baitfish for some hot top-water action.
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Choosing Lures For Lake of the Ozarks’ Fall Bass Fishing

By John Neporadny Jr.

Selecting lures can be tough sometimes, but the decision becomes easier in the fall at Lake of the Ozarks if you pay attention to a bass’ autumn diet.

Since shad become a favorite meal for bass then, any lure that imitates this baitfish will produce for you. Crankbaits, spinnerbaits and jigs are three of the top fall lure choices for catching bass from this reservoir.

If the wind is blowing, burn a spinnerbait along bluff ledges and main lake points. The size of spinnerbait depends on the type of cover you target. If you’re concentrating on shallow cover, try a 1/4-ounce spinnerbait with a single number 5 or 6 chrome Colorado blade. When keying on main lake structure in windy conditions, switch to a 3/4- to 1-ounce spinnerbait with tandem willowleaf blades (numbers 5 and 7). Combine chrome and gold blades for clear water-cloudy day conditions, and select a copper-and-gold blade combination for dirty water situations. Favorite spinnerbait skirt colors of the local anglers are white and white-and-chartreuse.

The single spin works best when burning the lure up to the cover then stopping it. Use a fast, steady retrieve on the larger model and you can also catch fish early on calm mornings by waking the blade bait across the surface.

When the fishing gets tough and bass hold tight to cover, try the crankbait around any wood or brush piles you can find in the backs of shallow pockets or along shallow flats. Although the lure works best in wind, a crankbait also produces when the lake has a slick surface.

A shad-pattern, shallow-running, Mann’s 1-Minus or a Bagley’s B-I in shad colors are good lures for the fall at Lake of the Ozarks. If the water is off-colored, switch to a black-and-chartreuse crankbait.

Vary the speed of your crankbait retrieve, but always makes sure to bang the lure into cover. If the fish are really holding tight to the cover, burn the lure and bang it right into the cover. Sometimes you might have to run the lure three or four times along side a log to trigger a strike.

When bass suspend under docks at the Lake of the Ozarks, swim a jig along the foam. This technique produces because you can drop the lure to spots in a dock well that are unreachable with other baits. While a jig is often used for sluggish bass in cold-front situations, the lure in this situation is used for active bass hiding in the shady areas of the docks.

To detect the subtle strikes that usually occur when swimming a jig, use a heavier lure (1/2 to 3/4 ounces). A white jig with a white Gene Larew Salt Craw or a black-and-chartreuse model with a plastic chunk in the same colors work well for this tactic.

Throughout the fall, a variety of lures will catch bass, but you can simplify your lure choices at the Lake of the Ozarks by trying a spinnerbait, crankbait or jig as a shad imitator.

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

Busting Bass Tricks at Lake of the Ozarks

By John Neporadny Jr.

 

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.

Fall Stream Fishing

By Marc Rogers

 

Fall Stream Fishing for Bass

Fall is just around the corner and many sportsmen will be putting away their rod and reel and getting out their hunting equipment. However, for those of us that are avid anglers the fall season can pay big dividends.

Sure, you have heard it all before. “Some of the best fishing is in the fall.”  The lakes and reservoirs play host to the bass chasing schools of bait fish to put on weight before the up coming winter months.  Some say the bass are easy to catch in the fall.  I don’t think they are ever easy, some days are just more productive than others.

While most anglers are fishing these “big waters” this fall, I can be found chasing Smallmouth Bass in the Ozark streams. If you have ever considered stream fishing you too should give it a try this fall.  You can enjoy the same benefits as on the lakes and reservoirs but this kind of fishing requires no expensive equipment or boat.

All you need is a rod and reel, a small box of lures and the energy to walk several miles of stream.  Most of my wading is done with old tennis shoes and shorts, but if the water is too cold I opt for waders instead. Waders can extend your stream fishing season late into the year. However, if walking is not your idea of fun, there are alternatives. There are many canoe rental outfitters that offer numerous different float trips and are willing to give information about fishing as well.

There are many choices when it comes to streams. Many of the larger ones are clearly indicated on state road maps and are used by float trip outfitters. These are easy to find and do have some great fishing.  When fishing these larger streams I suggest you do so on a weekday. But if your only opportunity is on weekends ask the canoe outfitter to take you to areas that receive less pressure from recreational floaters. Also, don’t rule out using the same accesses the outfitters use but wade the stream instead of floating it.

My personal choice for stream fishing is to fish the ones that are not on any map. Yes, these tiny streams do hold some good fish. I have caught Smallmouth in the four-pound class in these tiny creeks and have friends who have caught both Smallmouth and Largemouth that exceeded five pounds. You can gain access to these creeks from state highway bridges, but most run through private land and I suggest you get permission from the landowner before setting out on your journey.

The most productive areas in streams are the deep holes created by fallen trees and their root wads.  Fish these areas very thoroughly because they have everything a bass needs for survival. Remember, deep water is relative to the water around it. In a stream deep water may be only a few feet deep.

As for equipment I keep it as simple as possible. I use one medium-action casting outfit most of the time. However, if you are more comfortable with spinning or spin-cast equipment it is what you should use. I like the casting outfit because a high-speed reel allows me to work a variety of fast moving baits.

In my small strap on tackle box I keep several different lures. Included in this box are small soft plastic crawfish and worms. A few crawfish crankbaits and floating minnow imitators are a must. Also, don’t forget a top water prop bait; I prefer the Devil’s Horse. I saved the best for last; spinnerbaits in the one-quarter and three-eighths ounce size and buzzbaits in the one eighths and one-quarter ounce size are my personal favorite.  As you can tell from my lure selection I don’t use tiny baits. I find by using larger lures I tend to catch larger (keeper size) fish than when using ultra light lures.

Now that you have an idea about the possibilities of stream fishing, you owe it to yourself to experience stream fishing in the fall. Whether wading or floating you will find the un-crowded streams very peaceful and may have several miles of stream all to yourself.

Fall Out For Lake of the Ozarks Bass Fishing

By John Neporadny Jr

 

Catch Fall Bass on Lake of the Ozarks

While the fall weather turns Missouri’s trees into a sea of red, gold and orange,  the cooler temperatures also energize bass.

After spending the hot summer slumbering in deep-water haunts, Lake of the Ozarks bass follow baitfish to the shallows during autumn where the cooler water triggers a feeding frenzy. The recurring fall scenes of bass busting through schools of shad makes 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. However that excitement can quickly turn into frustration when you make countless casts to these marauders and the fish continue to ignore your offerings.

The vast waters of my home lake offer anglers a wide variety of areas and patterns to try throughout autumn. After the Labor Day holiday, boat traffic decreases and the bass fishing turns on in the backs of major feeder creeks and the upper ends of the main tributaries. The best areas to try in early fall include the upper sections of the Osage and Niangua Rivers and the backs of feeder creeks, such as the Gravois, Little Gravois, Grand Glaize, Linn, Indian and Soap.

Lay-downs and wood stick-ups are key targets for bass in the shallows of the creek.  When largemouth bass are chasing shad in these areas a variety of lures will catch fish, including topwater chuggers such as Rebel Pop-Rs, buzz baits and spinnerbaits.  One of my favorite techniques for these active bass is to bump a shallow-running crankbait into the wood cover.

If the weather turns sunny, I key on shallow boat docks where the bass suspend under the floating piers to ambush shad. Running a spinnerbait or twitching a soft jerkbait close to the sides of the dock usually coaxes a bass out of its hiding place. However the best way to trigger dock bass into biting is swimming a jig and plastic or pork trailer along the dock’s foam. I prefer using a 1/4-ounce light-colored jig with a white pork chunk or blue plastic crawfish that I quickly retrieve in a hopping fashion within about 1 to 2 feet of the surface.

The main lake also produces plenty of action for spotted bass in the early fall. Marauding gangs of spotted bass can be seen slashing through schools of baitfish along main lake points and islands. The bets lures for catching these fish include topwater chuggers, 1/4-ounce Rat-L-Traps and 1/4-ounce spinnerbaits. My guide trip clients usually caught plenty of spotted bass when they worked small topwater chuggers next to main-lake boat docks.

Some quality largemouth can be caught in the mornings on chrome-and-black Storm Lures Wiggle Wart crankbaits along main lake points. Later in the day, the bigger fish move into brush piles 10 to 20 feet deep where you can catch them on Texas-rigged 10-inch plastic worms or jigs and pork chunks.

From mid-October through November, the lake level usually starts dropping and bass concentrate on the chunk-rock primary and secondary points. Some of the most productive techniques for catching late fall bass on the points include waking a 1/2- to 3/4-ounce spinnerbait, slowly cranking a buzz bait or working a Heddon Zara Spook with a walk-the-dog retrieve. Swimming a jig along the main lake docks also takes both keeper-size largemouth and spotted bass. If the lake level remains high, then flipping a 3/8-ounce jig and pork chunk along seawalls on secondary points also produces keeper bass.

For information on lodging and other facilities at the Lake of the Ozarks or to receive a free 152-page vacation guide, call the Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-FUN-LAKE or visit the Lake of the Ozarks Conventionand 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.

Catching Fall Bass at Lake of the Ozarks

By John Neporadny Jr

 

Lake of the Ozarks Fall Bass Fishing

Fishing for bass in the fall can be a most rewarding experience for an angler’s body and soul. The cooler temperatures provide a relief from the scorching heat that you had to endure during the summer and the leaves changing colors creates an eye-pleasing scene that lulls you into a state of tranquility.

The fishing this time of year can be just as enjoyable, since the cooling water temperature triggers bass into gorging themselves on shad in preparation for winter. The action can get fast and furious on a variety of shad-imitating lures when you find bass feeding on baitfish.

Turbid water and an abundance of flats in the upper ends of Lake of the Ozarks’ tributaries makes these areas ideal for bass in September. Some consistent fall patterns can be found on the Lake of the Ozarks in the upper reaches of the Osage, Grand Glaize, Gravois and Niangua arms.

Favorite targets of local anglers are shallow docks along flats. The shad forage is tremendous both on the main lake and in coves during this time. Although patterns tend to be inconsistent in the fall due to the shad scattering throughout the lake, one type of cover always holds fish. Boat docks along flats are the best bets for good fall action, especially on the mid to upper Osage arm, which has plenty of these bass havens.

A favorite fall pattern is flipping a ½-ounce black-and-blue jig and plastic crawfish on 20-pound test line behind docks or in the brush alongside docks 5 to 7 feet deep. Docks along the flats seem to produce better than the floating structures on the channel banks. The fish typically hold tight to cover so flip or pitch around the docks and let the jig fall into the cover. Allow the lure sit in the cover for a couple of seconds and shake your rod to make the jig rattle. If this fails to induce a strike, move on to the next target.

A secondary pattern also works on docks or along flat points. Tie on a 3/8-ounce white or chartreuse spinnerbait with a silver single number 4 willowleaf blade and wind it in with a slow, steady retrieve along the sides of docks.

The jig pattern usually begins in late summer and lasts through October. The spinnerbait pattern works best in September and October. Since sunshine draws bass tighter to cover, the flipping technique produces better in sunny weather. The spinnerbait pattern calls for windy weather.

The turnover completely shuts down fishing in the upper ends for a few days. You can usually avoid this situation by heading down lake to the clearer water areas by the dam, which usually turns over last.

For information on lodging and other facilities at the Lake of the Ozarks or to receive a free 152-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.