Archive for lake of the ozarks

Winter Drawdown on Lake of the Ozarks

Fishing Lake of the Ozarks winter drawdown stages

By John Neporadny Jr.

Knowing the plans for preventing floods in the spring can improve your chances of catching wintertime bass on Lake of the Ozarks.

AmerenMissouri annually draws down lake levels during the winter to prevent flooding in the spring, so Lake of the Ozarks anglers must adapt to the falling water to catch bass.

A typical winter drawdowns usually leads to three phases that anglers must adjust to in order to keep track of bass throughout the winter and early spring. Phase One occurs when the drawdown begins and bass move from the shallows to deeper sanctuaries. Next comes Phase Two when the drawdown bottoms out and bass bunch up in certain holes during the dead of winter. Phase Three follows in early spring when the lake is still low and shoreline cover is high and dry, but bass have the urge to move shallower in search of warmer water.

Here’s a look at how FLW Tour pro and Lake of the Ozarks guide Casey Scanlon tracks and catches Lake of the Ozarks bass during each phase of the winter drawdown.

Phase One

The first drawdown phase on Lake of the Ozarks usually starts slowly in late November or early December and then Scanlon notices the water levels drop sharply at some point. Scanlon keys on main and secondary points where bass are feeding on larger meals for winter. “Those fish are up there eating those big (gizzard) shad,” he said.

During the early stages of the drawdown, Scanlon relies on a Luck E Strike Buzzbait or other topwater lures to catch bass chasing the gizzard shad. As the lake level continues to fall, bass start suspending on points and vertical structure on the main lake so Scanlon tempts these fish with a Luck E Strike RC STX Jerkbait or a 3/4-ounce spinnerbait that he slow rolls.

Phase Two

The guts of creeks and main lake pockets are Scanlon’s favorite targets during the bottom-out stage of the winter drawdown. He finds Lake of the Ozarks bass suspending at 8 to 10 feet over a depth of 20 feet or greater and casts his lures down the middle of the guts. “In the middle of winter, I use a (suspending) jerkbait and I am also going to throw some kind of an Alabama rig.” He throws an Alabama rig without blades in clear water on calm, sunny days but changes to a bladed version of the rig in windy or cloudy conditions.

Phase Three

This is the trickiest phase of the drawdown since bass want to move to warmer water in the shallows, but shallow cover is sparse and cold fronts can send bass retreating back to deeper water.

Scanlon concentrates on boulders and docks in the shallows along points and bluffs in the backs of creeks. “I look for just any type of cover available on the bank and I will throw a (1/2-ounce Trophy Bass Company) jig with a big trailer to slow the fall rate down,” Scanlon said. He also throws a suspending jerkbait and a Luck E Strike G5 crankbait for bass suspended in deeper water.

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 B.A.S.S. Publications

Jim Dill predicts another good year for Lake of the Ozarks

Another good year for Lake of the Ozarks bass

By John Neporadny Jr.

Lake of the Ozarks anglers have always been blessed with good bass fishing throughout the years and 2018 should be another banner year for the lake.

Guide Jim Dill expects bass fishing to be average to above average this year at Lake of the Ozarks. “It seems like the weights are going up (at tournaments) and we are seeing bigger fish turned in on (guide) trips,” he said. “I am catching a lot more quality fish.” Two 10-pound largemouth were caught on the Grand Glaize arm of the lake in the spring of 2016. Dill believes the bass are growing bigger because the fish have a lot of forage created by the large shad population in the lake.

When the water temperature starts to warm, bass begin their prespawn migration to the shallows. Bass start feeding heavily during the first warming trend of the month when it causes the water temperature to climb into the 40-degree range. Dill picks 42 degrees as the magic number for drawing big bass to the shallows. “Once we hit 42 there are just as many fish shallow as there is anywhere else,” he said. “The majority of the fish are going to start pushing towards the back ends of creeks looking for warmer water.”

Bottom-bumping baits such as small finesse jigs or a Crock-O-Gator Swamp Bug on a 1/2-ounce jighead tricks prespawn bass into biting. Suspending jerkbaits in a variety of colors and an Alabama rig also produce plenty of quality bass in March.

During early April, Dill throws larger jigs, Wiggle Warts and suspending jerkbaits for bass along the rock transition banks (scattered chunk rock and pea gravel). The spawn usually occurs from middle to late April when the fish nest 6 feet deep or less in the protected pea gravel pockets. A variety of soft plastics will work then and nesting bass will also attack topwater lures such as a Crock-O-Gator HeadKnocker Buzz Bait or Zara Spook.

The local guide suggests fishing the lake’s major creeks for the earliest action since spring rains tend to warm the backs of those creeks first. Dill lists Jennings Branch, Gravois, Bogue, Cedar and Mill creeks as some of the spots on the lower end of the lake where the bass action turns on quicker 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.

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

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

Catch Lake of the Ozarks Giant Bass Using Swimbaits




Sling a Swimbait for Lake of the Ozarks Giants

By John Neporadny Jr.

Accomplished tournament angler Marcus Sykora knows heavyweight bass on his home waters of Lake of the Ozarks like to hang out in the shade and eat big meals.

“There are a couple of things that anglers need to explore,” says Sykora. “What you should really focus on is what portion of the water column you are most comfortable with. If you want to fish shallow it doesn’t mean you have to fish in shallow water. There are an abundance of docks out there and what I do is take a big swimbait or something like that and throw it along those bigger docks because there is a ton of big bass tournament-winning fish that reside under those docks.”

The local angler suggests using a 5- or 6-inch swimbait that stays in about the 5-foot depth range. “You can cover a ton of water with that technique and it is usually very easy, very friendly because you don’t have to go in-between the docks,” Sykora says. “You can continue on a straight line with your trolling motor. The odds of you being able to catch a giant are great.” The tournament veteran notes this tactic also produces plenty of 3- and 4-pounders that can earn anglers money during the semi-hourly weigh-ins.

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

Sykora usually catches his biggest fish in the fall from the Gravois arm to Bagnell Dam and up the Grand Glaize arm. “From the Gravois to the dam the water is so clear those bigger fish have the opportunity to pick and choose their feeding periods a little bit more precisely which means they are less catchable,” says Sykora. “So there are more of them available.”

Visiting anglers should focus their efforts on main lake docks. “I would just start at the dam and keep going until I ran out of time,” says Sykora. After fishing so far down one direction, Sykora would run to the opposite bank and work his way back towards the dam.

“Typically you want to run the swimbait just out of sight on the windy side of a dock in combination with shade,” says Sykora. “So try to find a stretch of the lake that has wind and shade impacting the same side of the docks.”

The ideal target for Sykora’s swimbait tactic is where the wind is blowing into the swim platform side of the dock, which provides the most amounts of shade and protection for bass to use as an ambush point. Bash anglers should also try the front corners and stalls of the condo docks.

Bass will set up on any of the main channel docks during the fall. “It doesn’t really matter whether it is 50 feet deep on the end of that dock or if it is 25 feet deep,” Sykora says.

Sykora opts for swimbaits in natural shad or bream colors, but if these fail to produce he changes to lures in highly visible wild colors. “The color is so contrasting that it gets the fish’s attention and the fish has to make the commitment on whether or not it wants to go and eat that bait,” he says.

A swimbait with a slow fall rate is Sykora’s choice for working the main lake docks. “If you can keep that thing in the strike zone, the slower you can reel it the more action that bait has,” he says. Since he is fishing in open water next to the dock, Sykora favors an open hook on the top of his swimbait and adds a number 2 or 1/0 treble hook to his rig to increase hookups. He either slips the treble hook on his main line of 20- to 25-pound fluorocarbon before tying on the bait or attaches the treble to the hook of the swimbait.

When he notices big fish following his bait but eventually turning away from it, Sykora changes his retrieve to trigger a strike. Sykora continues to steadily retrieve the lure and as it reaches the end of the dock or shade line, he quickly turns the reel handle three to four times and then stops cranking to allow the swimbait to flutter down and tempt the following fish into biting.

If the swimbait pattern fails to produce, Sykora suggests anglers run halfway back into the creeks and key on brush piles along the flats. “I am looking for the migrators then, “says Sykora, who probes the 15- to 18-foot range with a deep-diving crankbait. “I am looking for the fish that are following shad. I like the deep-diving crankbait because 1) I can cover so much more water; 2) it has a big profile; and 3) it is just a big fish bait. With the amount of pressure on the lake you need to keep covering water and keep yourself in high percentage spots.”

The key to this technique is to bang the crankbait into the brush piles. “Whenever I am working that bait and I feel the line coming up on the pile, sometimes I reel that thing as fast as I can and crash that bait and then just kill it,” says Sykora. “As it starts floating up the fish will get it.”

Sykora picks about the same colors for his crankbaits as he does for his swimbaits in either natural shad hues or off-the-wall bright colors of orange, red or yellow. He usually has three crankbait rods on his deck with three different line sizes; 12-, 15- and 20-pound fluorocarbon. Cranking with the 12-pound line allows his lure to reach brush piles that top out at 16 feet. He opts for 15-pound test when probing brush that tops out at 12 feet and switches to 20-pound test when cranking brush tops at 8 feet.

If he catches some fish from a brush pile but the fish stop hitting the crankbait, Sykora will probe the cover with a big jig or Texas-rigged Zoom Brush Hog or magnum-size plastic worm.

Other tactics Sykora recommends for tricking a big bass in the fall include throwing a black buzz bait on 65-pound test braided line in the mornings; working a 3/4- or 1-ounce football jig (peanut butter-and-jelly hue with a green pumpkin trailer) along bluff ends; and casting 3/4- or 1-ounce jigs to suspended bass hanging on the cables of condo docks.

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.

Bass Fishing in the Wind on Lake of the Ozarks

Cash in on Wind for Lake of the Ozarks Bass

By John Neporadny Jr.

The wind is almost always an angler’s best friend in autumn so Lake of the Ozarks anglers should keep that in mind while chasing bass.

When fishing in the shallows of the river arms, accomplished tournament angler Roger Fitzpatrick looks for the wind to find the most active bass. “I fished a tournament about 10 years ago and started on a spot around the 80-mile marker (of the Osage arm),” says Fitzpatrick. “It was morning and there wasn’t a hint of breeze on it. I knew fish were there because I caught them there the week before, but my partner and I fished through there and never got a bite. “

Lake of the Ozarks

They tried some other spots that day and when Fitzpatrick noticed a breeze blowing, he returned to his morning spot. “As soon as you see that ripple on the lake starting to hit the side of the dock, especially if it is hitting the same side as the shade on the dock, it is game on,” says Fitzpatrick. “We went back through that same row of docks later on and caught about a dozen keepers. They were there all along, they just didn’t bite earlier.”

The upper Osage is a favorite fall hot spot for Roger Fitzpatrick and his brother, Wayne, the owner of Fitz Fishing Tackle and Supplies and an accomplished Lake of the Ozarks tournament competitor. “Usually in October the gizzard shad in the rivers will start to move to the flats,” says Roger Fitzpatrick. “Anytime you are up there and hit your trolling motor and those gizzards start to flip out of the water, if you see those hand-size gizzard shad, those are the ones big bass like the most. So whatever shallow cover is next to those shad is what I would key on.”

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

The wind dictates how far up the Osage Fitzpatrick will run throughout the day. If the weather is calm he will key on brush about 15 feet deep from the 30- to 40-mile mark of the Osage. However if winds of 20 miles per hour are forecast he will run up to the stretch from the 60-mile mark to Warsaw to target shallow bass.

“In the mornings a lot of times you won’t have the wind and if that is the case you might fish some brush piles or some deeper docks or throw a buzz bait on some of the flat nothing-looking points up there,” says Fitzpatrick. He believes bass in this area roam the flats at night and remain there in the mornings and then tuck under the shallow docks when the sun rises higher.

The Eldon, Mo., angler favors a black 3/8-ounce Omega Alpha Shad buzz bait with black or copper blades for buzzing the flats. He removes the skirt of a 3/8- or 1/2-ounce Omega jig and matches the jighead with a Damiki Hydra tube-style trailer for skipping under docks.

When fishing a jig along the shallow docks, Fitzpatrick either swims his lure or drags it along the bottom depending on how the fish want it presented that day. “I fished a tournament years ago on a Saturday and caught 18 pounds on a row of docks swimming a jig. I went back to it Sunday in a different tournament and swam that jig by every corner and never got a bite. I spun right back around and let that jig go to the bottom and then caught 18 pounds off the same row of docks. They just wanted it different that particular day.”

Quality electronics and an angler’s comfort level at fishing deep are critical in catching heavyweight bass from the clear waters of the lower lake. “There are some fish in some guts and a lot of bass that are relating to nothing but shad in the fall of the year,” says Fitzpatrick. ”If you are blessed enough to have a good graph and can see shad in 40 feet of water on a flat, you should put on a 1-ounce jig and drag it around in those shad because there are giant bass out under those shad and you are fishing where other people aren’t fishing.”

When fishing deep in the dam area, Fitzpatrick matches a brown or green 1-ounce jig with a green pumpkin Berkley Chigger Craw. He jerks the jig off the bottom in depths of 20 to 40 feet to trigger a reaction strike from bass foraging on schools of shad.

Fitzpatrick suggests anglers who want some topwater action on the lower lake should throw a Zara Spook for bass suspending around docks over depths of 30 to 40 feet. Work the topwater lure along the windy sides of the docks and the shade of the dock wells for the best results.

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.

Lake of the Ozarks September Bass Fishing

Catching Lake of the Ozarks bass in September

By John Neporadny Jr.

Lake of the Ozarks bass anglers need to “go with the flow” to get in on the best fishing action during September.

By September, the summer heat has generated bath-water temperatures and depleted oxygen levels in the shallows of lakes and ponds throughout the state. These conditions make for some tough fishing during the month, but anglers can still catch plenty of fish at Lake of the Ozarks by seeking waters with plenty of current. When fishing the headwaters of the lake, bass anglers will discover the current in these waters create a cool, oxygen-rich environment that makes bass more aggressive feeders. So Lake of the Ozarks anglers should “go with the flow” for the best bass action at the lake during early fall.

When September arrives, veteran tournament angler Mike Malone starts running up the Osage arm of the lake to catch bass.

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

“Those fish are moving at that time and the baitfish are moving and bass get predominantly on those mud flats (on the upper Osage arm),” he says. “If you can figure out what area of that upper reach is on you are going to catch a bunch.”

The Lake Ozark angler keys on the main lake flats rather than back in the creeks because current is more predominant there. “There is usually a two- to three-hour window where they turn on the water (at Truman Dam),” Malone says. “As long as there is movement to the water, those fish get positioned and are very predictable as to where they are going to be and how to catch them.”

Malone usually finds bass around boat docks where the fish remain less than 4 feet deep. “I have a milk run where I might hit 30 to 40 docks up there starting at about Proctor Creek all the way up to the 88-mile marker,” he says. “Sometimes the fish are on the outside ends of the docks. If they are not running current the fish might be on the backs of the docks.”

Malone’s favorite lures for throwing around the docks include a black/red flake flipping tube, black/chartreuse jig with blue plastic chunk, a 1/2-ounce white/chartreuse spinnerbait and black/chartreuse wake bait.

Anglers unfamiliar with this section need to be cautious while navigating the upper lake because it contains lots of shallow mud flats on the main lake and in coves. “It’s not an area where you want to go fast if you don’t know where you are going,” Malone says. He recommends using good electronics and mapping to navigate safely in this section of the lake.

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.

Shaky Head Worm Fishing on Lake of the Ozarks

Jig worm fishing on Lake of the Ozarks

By John Neporadny Jr.

Many touring pros have dubbed it shaky head fishing but Lake of the Ozarks legend Guido Hibdon likes to call it jig worm fishing.

The Godfather of Finesse Fishing’s label best describes this tactic because it requires using a jighead and a plastic worm. The term shaky head derives from having to shake the jig and worm to trigger strikes but Hibdon doesn’t always need to shake his jig worm to catch Lake of the Ozarks bass.

“Every day will tell you a different story on how to work it,” Hibdon says. “I hop it a little bit. Sometimes I just throw it out there and crank it real slow and let it just bump the bottom every now and then. The next time I might have to pick it up and pull it a little bit and hop it once or twice.”

Taking a break from the FLW Tour, Hibdon has returned to guiding on his home waters of Lake of the Ozarks. During an outing with Hibdon, I got a chance to learn some of the legendary pro’s tricks for catching finicky bass on a jig worm. Despite facing some tough conditions (calm bluebird skies and bass recuperating from the spawn) we still managed to catch 15 keepers with our best five fish probably weighing around 15 pounds. Almost all of the fish we caught that day was on a hop-and-fall presentation.

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

When guiding Hibdon frequently sets up his clients with a jig worm. “A jig worm is one of those deals that anybody can do,” Hibdon says. “It is the simplest fishing that anybody can possibly do. I get a big kick out of it.”

Hibdon’s clients get a big kick out of it too because not only does it catch lots of fish, it also coaxes big bass into biting. “You bet it will, “Hibdon claims. “The biggest fish I have seen this year a guy caught out of the back of my boat on it. He had an 8-pound, 6-ounce fish that he caught on 8-pound line with a jig worm on one of my rods. The heck of it was if you took his best five fish he would have ended up with 26 or 27 pounds.”

Using a light jighead is the key to jig worm fishing. “The lighter you can keep the head the better off you are, “says Hibdon. The former Bassmaster Classic champ uses 1/16-or 1/8-ounce jigheads for most of his jig worm applications but he will upgrade to a 1/4-ounce head on windy days to prevent his line from bowing.

Lake of the Ozarks

Pouring his own jigheads allows Hibdon to make models with different size hooks. So when he fishes 4-inch finesse worms the veteran guide opts for a jighead with a 3/0 or 4/0 hook and switches to a model with a 5/0 hook for 6-inch or larger trick worms. “You don’t have to use a real small bait to do it,” says Hibdon, who matches his jighead with a Zoom Magnum Trick Worm during the summertime and fall.

Before rigging the worm on the jig, Hibdon slightly pushes down on the bend of the hook with a pair of pliers which helps the worm lay straighter on the hook and assures a better hook set. The key to rigging the combo is to make sure the worm sits straight on the hook. “If the worm has a little crook in it the line will get twisted all the time,” Hibdon warns. When rigged correctly the point of the hook should be barely under the skin of the worm body to make the combo weedless.

Hibdon ties his jighead with a Palomar knot onto an 8-foot leader line of Berkley Trilene 100 % Fluorocarbon followed by tying a main line of yellow 10-pound Trilene braid with a Double Uni or Albright knot. “I don’t use straight fluorocarbon because I can’t see it and if I use anything heavier than 8 pounds on the (spinning) reel you can’t keep it on the reel,” he says. “It just spins off of their too easily (and will create a tangled mess).”

The longtime FLW Tour pro prefers the yellow braid so he can see the line easier, but Hibdon adds the fluorocarbon leader to prevent fish from detecting his line. “I get paranoid knowing fish can see that yellow line, so that determines how long I make my leader,” says Hibdon. In the clearest water, he lengthens his leader to 10 to 12 feet. In dirty water he still throws the same fluoro-braid combination but opts for a leader of 12- to 15-pound fluorocarbon and a main line of 15-pound braid.

Hibdon recommends throwing the jig worm on a 7-foot medium-action spinning rod that has a strong backbone yet a fast tip for casting accuracy and distance. He favors using a Lew’s spinning reel with a medium size spool.

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.

Topwater for Lake of the Ozarks Bass

Topwater Tactics For Lake of the Ozarks Bass

by John Neporadny Jr.

The greatest thrill in bass fishing occurs when you’re watching a calm surface suddenly explode and your topwater lure instantly vanishes.

This scene will be played out many times this month on Lake of the Ozarks as the waters become warm enough to activate bass into feeding on top. A number of factors stimulate bass into striking at objects on the surface during spring. They are up shallow after a long winter’s
nap; they’re aggressive and hungry. They will also go into an area where they are going to spawn and clear out anything else in that area.

Their aggressive nature during the spawning cycle make bass susceptible to a variety of topwater lures including chuggers, stickbaits and propellor baits. Two popular lures for most for surface action at Lake of the Ozarks are a Rebel Pop-R and a Heddon Zara Spook. The Pop-R will bring
up all sizes of bass, but the Spook is more or less a big fish bait in the spring.

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

Clear-water areas in the middle to lower ends of the lake produce the best topwater action during the spring. You need to have at least a foot of visibility to get anything on the Pop-R. The fish will be in 3 to 5 feet of water, but they will come up for that lure. The best springtime topwater spots include long, rocky points, pockets in coves and main channel cuts. In April, the fish move into the backs of coves where they can be caught in pockets and around any stickups. By the end of the month and throughout May, the fish migrate back to deeper water, but can still be caught in the shallows around wood cover in main channel cuts and along extended main lake points.

Mornings and evenings are the best times for topwater action at Lake of the Ozarks. Any low-light conditions work better than bright sunshine for topwater fishing. When you get cloudy weather, you can fish topwater all day long with the same success. When the sun gets high they will leave those lures alone. Wind also prevents you from working a Zara Spook effectively, but you can still throw a Pop-R if there’s a chop on the water.

When the water’s calm, retrieve the Pop-R as slow as possible. Just barely twitch it every couple of seconds. When a fish strikes at it start moving the lure otherwise the fish will turn around and leave it. After casting a Spook, let it sit until the ripples from the splash disappear, then retrieve the lure in the traditional walk-the-dog fashion. The Pop-R and Spook work best before and after the spawn, but another topwater technique produces better when the fish are on the nest. One of the best lures during the spawn is a (Rattlin’) Rogue because bass think it is a perch or a sunfish coming into their nest. Jerk the lure down in front of a nest and lets it sit there until the bass can no longer resist snapping at the Rogue.Lake of the Ozarks

Throw both the Pop-R and Spook on heavier line (15- to 20-pound test) to bring out the best action in both lures. Lighter line causes the lures to sink down under the water some when you jerk the rod, which especially hampers the action of the Pop-R. The Rogue works better with 12- to 14-pound test line.

The topwater bite usually starts the first part of April if the water temperature climbs into the mid 60s. The pattern usually lasts until about the middle of May or even the first part of June during a cool spring. If you get cool rainy days, you can still use that topwater in the early summer.

For more information on lodging and fishing 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 a copy of John Neporadny’s THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Guide, call 573/365-4296 or visit www.jnoutdoors.com.

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 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 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.

Crappie

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.

Catfish

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 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.

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 (www.ameren.com). “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 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.