Archive for lake of the ozarks

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.

Catch Lake of the Ozarks Bass in Brush Piles

Brushing up to catch Lake of the Ozarks bass

By John Neporadny Jr.

Bass have finished spawning and are on the move to their summertime haunts in deeper water at Lake of the Ozarks.

During this transition phase and when they reach their summer hideouts, bass are attracted to some type of cover that provides shelter and an ambush point. Some lakes contain enough natural cover for bass, but Lake of the Ozarks features man-made brush piles as an integral part of the fish’s habitat.

My home reservoir of Lake of the Ozarks is a prime example of how sunken brush piles improve the fishing on an old reservoir devoid of natural cover. Before the lake was filled in the 1930’s, the timber in the river valleys was clear-cut so there was no natural cover left for the fish after the lake formed. So boat docks and sunken brush piles are the main habitat for bass now on this aging lake.

Placing brush piles at strategic locations helps angler find fish throughout the year, but this type of cover seems to produce best in the summertime. The best time to target brush piles on Lake of the Ozarks is when the water temperature climbs into the 70- to 85-degree range.

The depth of the most productive brush piles depends on the water clarity. In stained or dirty water, brush piles at depths of 6 to 15 feet along main and secondary points and flats are key targets for summertime bass. In the clear-water sections of the lake, guides sink brush 25 to 30 feet deep on a main or secondary point to improve a spot for deep vertical presentations.

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

Guides and tournament anglers on Lake of the Ozarks build their brush piles out of large branches or sections of hardwood trees (oak, sycamore or cedar). Sycamores are good for sinking because these trees feature a heavy wood that requires less weight to sink and has wider branches that make it easier to run a crankbait through without snagging.

I used to sink brush piles in the lake but have discovered it’s a lot easier now to find the work of others with my Humminbird side imaging unit. If you don’t have side imaging, you can still find brush with standard electronics in a short period of time if you know where to start your search. On Lake of the Ozarks, boat docks are a good starting point, especially the boat houses with fishing boats, cleaning stations, rod holders and lights hanging over the water. I usually skip past docks harboring large cruisers because the owners of these docks usually are more infatuated with boating than fishing.

Drop-offs are also good areas to find man-made cover. When fishing unfamiliar waters, you can also locate brush by dragging a Carolina rig on the main lake or running a crankbait in the back of a creek.

Once you find a brush pile, figure out how the cover lies on the bottom to make your lure presentation easier. Approach the brush from the deep end and cast to either side of the cover first, which allows you to quickly pull fish away from the snags. If the sides fail to produce any bites, throw down the base of the tree. By sinking the brush with the trunk of the tree facing the bank and the limbs pointing towards deeper water you can work your lure through the middle of the cover without hanging up in the limbs.

After working you lures along the sides and through the middle of the brush from the deep end, position your boat on the side of the brush and cast across it. Sometimes finicky fish are positioned a certain way so you have to turn your boat to the side the fish are on. After a couple of casts from the side, try circling the brush pile and throwing from the other side to work the brush from another angle.

If wind is blowing, assume bass will be facing the wind. So position your boat downwind from the brush pile and cast past the sunken cover. Once again make sure to work your lures along the edges of the brush pile before trying the middle of the cover.

Time of day can also determine how to work a brush pile. Early in the morning, you can run buzz baits and topwater lures over the top of the cover, but later in the day switch to slow-moving baits and concentrate on the fish burrowed into the thicker part of the brush.

A plastic worm is a must lure for catching summertime bass from the brush piles. On Lake of the Ozarks a red shad or blue fleck 10-inch Berkley Power Worm is ideal. You can create a slow fall by Texas-rigging the worm with a 1/8-ounce sinker. You want the worm to fall as slowly as possible and the lighter weight makes it easier to lift the worm into and out of the limbs without having to jerk it real hard, which could lead to more hang-ups.

After letting the worm fall to the bottom, make sure you keep your rod movements to a minimum as you crawl the lure through the limbs. Moving your rod tip even a couple of inches will cause the worm to jump 3 to 4 inches, which could be too much movement.

Find a brush pile planted in Lake of the Ozarks and you can increase your chances of harvesting a limit of summertime bass.

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.

Key on Brush for Lake of the Ozarks Bass

Brush up for Lake of the Ozarks bass

By John Neporadny Jr.

The rigors of spawning are over and now it’s time for Lake of the Ozarks bass to find a good place to recuperate.

Manmade brush piles are the place for Lake of the Ozarks bass to rest before migrating to deep water. A brush pile provides cover and shade and draws baitfish that feed on its algae-covered limbs—all the essentials postspawn bass require for their recovery process. “When the fish get done spawning they hole up in those brush piles from 6 to 10 feet deep and recuperate before they move back out on the ledges,” says Mark Tucker, winner of the 2013 Everstart Lake of the Ozarks tournament.

The Missouri pro targets points adjacent to spawning flats for pinpointing Lake of the Ozarks postspawn bass. Time of day dictates which lure Tucker selects for probing the brush pile. “The biggest thing is how to figure out how the fish are positioned in the brush pile,” says Tucker. “A lot of times early in the morning the fish will get up on top of it and hit the lure on the initial fall. Very seldom will you have to work it through the brush. When the sun gets up you will have to sink it a little more and work a jig up and down to get the bite.”

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

A green pumpkin or watermelon candy Zoom Trick Worm attached to a 1/8-ounce jighead is Tucker’s choice for Lake of the Ozarks postspawn bass suspended above the brush. “Eighty percent of the time the fish hit it on the initial fall,” he says. If the fish fail to nab it on the descent, Tucker lets the worm fall to the bottom and shakes it three times before reeling it in for another cast. He tosses his Trick Worm into the brush with a 6 1/2-foot medium action E21 Carrot Stix rod and Abu Garcia Revo Premier PRM30 spinning reel spooled with 6-pound Berkley Trilene 100 % Fluorocarbon.

For bass holding tight to the cover Tucker opts for a 1/4-or 5/16-ounce Jernigan Jig and Zoom Junior Chunk or Critter Craw in a color mixture of brown, purple and chartreuse. He hops the jig through the brush on 10- or 12-pound Trilene 100 % Fluorocarbon with a 7-foot medium-heavy Carrot Stix rod and Abu Garcia Revo baitcast reel.

Another brush pile option for Tucker is a green pumpkin or watermelon Texas-rigged Zoom Brush Hog with a 4/0 Gamakatsu Sproat Hook and 5/16-ounce sinker. “If the bass fry have hatched, hop that Brush Hog along so it will look like a bluegill trying to eat those fry,” says Tucker. He snaps the lure hard with an 8-foot Carrot Gold Carrot Stix rod and Abu Garcia Revo reel filled with 17-pound Trilene 100 % Fluorocarbon.

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’ Hot Bass Fishing

Lake of the Ozarks’ Hot Bass Fishing

By John Neporadny Jr.

Spring provides some of the hottest bass fishing action of the year and probably the best chance for catching that once-in-a-lifetime lunker at Lake of the Ozarks. The action heats up first in the tributary sections of the lake such as the Gravois, Grand Glaize and Niangua arms and then spreads throughout the rest of the lake as the spring weather continues to warm and the hours of daylight increase.

My home lake always has a good population of largemouth bass because it consistently has stable water levels in the spring which insures good reproduction every year.

Electroshocking sampling by MDC Fisheries Biologist Greg Stoner indicated that his catch rate per hour of legal-size bass (15 inches or longer) has remained about the same for the last five years. The MDC relies on a metric known as RSD15 which is the percentage of legal size largemouth sampled during electroshocking. During a recent spring electroshocking on the Grand Glaize arm the RSD15 for largemouth bass was 20 percent. “One out of five fish is good,” Stoner said. “There were fair numbers of 4- and 5-pounders (in the sampling) and fewer 6-pounders and a 7-pounder every once in a while but nothing over that. We are never going to produce loads of 7- and 8-pound fish.”

March is a prime time for catching heavyweight prespawn bass moving out of their winter sanctuaries to the spawning banks. Alabama rigs, suspending stickbaits and slow-rolling spinnerbaits are the best choices for catching these fish along chunk rock transition banks.

Running a Storm Lures Wiggle Wart in a crawfish hue along pea gravel banks in the coves is one of the most effective ways to catch Lake of the Ozarks bass in early April. Twitching soft plastic jerkbaits in the shallow pockets and dragging Carolina-rigged plastic lizards along the sides and in front of boat docks also tricks bass during the late stages of the prespawn.

The spawn traditionally starts in mid-April and lasts until the first week of May. Sure signs of the bass spawn at Lake of the Ozarks are a full moon and dogwood trees blooming. During the spawn try a variety of soft plastics including lizards, tubes, finesse worms, craws, stickworms and jerkbaits in green pumpkin or watermelon hues in the clear water or black, blue and dark red colors in murky water.

The moon phase is also a key to determining when bass are spawning on the lake. Some of the biggest bass in the Lake of the Ozarks might spawn on a full moon in March but most bass throughout the lake will spawn around the full moons in April or May if the water temperature is right (usually in the mid-60s to low 70s). The increasing hours of daylight in the spring also triggers bass into nesting.

Many sources such as calendars and solunar charts in fishing magazines show the moon phase for each month. Weather apps for mobile phones are another good source for finding the moon phases.

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.

Making Artificial Brush Piles Using Pipe Trees

Pipe Trees at Lake of the Ozarks

By John Neporadny Jr.

Seasoned anglers know all too well the hassles of sinking brush piles at Lake of the Ozarks.

They’ve spent countless hours cutting down and dragging trees into their boats and then struggling to lift these tangled messes of limbs and concrete blocks over the side of the boat and into the water. Some of them have invested in old johnboats or pontoons they use specifically for sinking brush, but others depend on their fishing boat for planting crappie beds, so they’ve also had to spend time cleaning out the limbs and other debris and buffing out scratches on the gunwales.

However, these anglers persist in being part-time lumberjacks and two-boat owners because their efforts usually pay off in livewells loaded with bass or crappie.

Sinking these crappie beds improves their chances of catching fish on Lake of the Ozarks since its devoid of natural cover, but cutting down trees isn’t always the best option. One innovative anglers has discovered a cleaner and more efficient way to build crappie beds without using trees.
Lake of the Ozarks guide Skip Surbaugh could be mistaken for a plumber when he visits the local hardware store to purchase his material for crappie beds. The guide usually buys 1- and 4-inch PVC pipes, PVC pipe cement and Quickrete bags for constructing artificial trees.

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

His pipe tree costs more (about $20 apiece) than the real thing, but Surbaugh believes it is worth the investment since the piece of cover seems to last indefinitely and is nearly undetectable by sonar. “It’s very hard to find. You have to know exactly where it’s at,” suggests Surbaugh. “It does not show up on a locator. If anything shows up at all it will look like one small vertical structure.” He believes once algae accumulates on the PVC, the trees start showing up as thin vertical lines on a depth finder but those lines are usually unrecognizable to other anglers.

The pipe trees offer two other advantages over brush piles. Surbaugh suggest the manmade cover is ideal for crappie fishing because jigs rarely hang up on the PVC. “This method is also perfect for guys who don’t want to scratch up their boat because the pipe will lie flat in the boat and all the other stuff is already drilled and weighted beforehand,” he says.

Surbaugh’s tree consists of 10 1-inch pipes for the limbs, a 10-foot piece of 4-inch pipe for the trunk, a 2-foot section of 4-inch pipe weighted with Quickrete for the bottom and a couple of 3-inch metal or self-threading wood screws. Tools for this project include a hacksaw or band saw for cutting the pipes and a power drill and 1 3/8-inch hole cutter.

The guide drills the screws into the 2-foot pieces of pipe and stands them in his gravel driveway. Then he mixes the Quickrete and pours it into the pipes where the cement hardens around the screws. The bases for seven or eight trees can be made with one bag of Quickrete.

“Once you’ve got your bases poured you can have a tree ready to go in less than 10 minutes,” suggests Surbaugh. The next step is to drill the holes into the trunk for the limbs. Surbaugh drills into the 4-inch pipe at an angle so when he inserts the smaller pipe it wedges tighter to the trunk. He also drills a couple of extra holes in the top of the tree which allows the main pipe to fill with water and sink faster.

The local guide then loads all the pieces into his bass boat and heads for the lake where final assembly is done. When he locates a good spot for planting, Surbaugh then attaches the trunk to the base and daubs the connections with PVC cement to keep it secured. Then he inserts the pipe limbs into the trunk and cements them in place. “All you have to do then is grab the middle of the pipe and drop it over the side so you don’t have to mess with any concrete blocks or rocks in your boat,” he says.

The guide plants his trees as either horizontal or vertical cover. “A lot of times I’ll cut the limbs down into 10-foot sections, drill a hole in the top of the trunk and hang a wire attached to a concrete block and lay the trees down flat,” says Surbaugh. Since the limbs spread out about 5 feet on each side of the tree, Surbaugh extends the wire on the anchor to about 6 feet to prevent the weight from pulling down and smashing the bottom limbs. He usually drops these trees in depths of 10 to 12 feet.

When he wants to sink the cover in deeper water, the guide constructs his trees with the 20-foot pieces of pipe to create 10-foot limbs. Surbaugh attaches a heavy plastic bottle near the top of the tree trunk so when the tree falls to the bottom, the bottle floats up and keeps the cover erect.

The submerged pipe tree usually starts accumulating algae in about 10 days, which is when the crappie and bass also start hanging around the cover. Surbaugh has been planting his pipe trees in Lake of the Ozarks for the last four years and estimates he has 40 pieces of cover in the lake. The heavy fishing pressure and boat traffic on this reservoir takes its toll on submerged brush piles after a couple of years, yet Surbaugh has noticed his pipe trees remain intact.

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.

Fishing Lake of the Ozarks During the Holiday Season

Lake of the Ozarks Holiday Fishing

By John Neporadny Jr.

When the holiday season arrives at Lake of the Ozarks, even the fish get in on the holiday feasting.

Some of the best fishing of the year occurs on this Missouri reservoir during November and December as largemouth and spotted bass, crappie and white bass feast on forage in preparation for winter. As the water cools down, the fish become more active and move shallower. Recreational boat traffic has diminished and fishing pressure is minimal since many anglers have turned to hunting during the late fall/early winter period.

“The crappie are schooled a lot during those months so I have a tendency when it gets cooler to keep fishing shallower and shallower,” says Coast-Guard licensed guide Terry Blankenship. “Normally the crappie during this time are very aggressive and it seems to be an excellent time to catch big numbers of fish. Typically you can catch more fish out of a spot more than any other time of the year.”

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

During November Blankenship relies on a 1/16-ounce jig for a faster descent rate when he is shooting the lure to docks or casting to brush piles. When the water temperature drops into the low 40s in December he switches to a 1/32-ounce jig for a slower fall and tries more vertical jigging then. Blankenship matches his jighead with a Bobby Garland Baby Shad or a 3-inch Slab Slayer in blue ice, electric chicken or bayou booger hues.

A spinnerbait and buzz bait are Blankenship’s top lure choices for bass in November when the fish are feasting on shad in the coves. He runs the buzz bait or wakes the spinnerbait over big rocks along the flats of the larger creek coves. As the water temperature continues to cool down during November, Blankenship starts to target brush piles at depths of 10 to 18 feet and slow rolls a 3/8-ounce spinnerbait (double willowleaf blades with white-and-chartreuse skirt) through the cover.

When the water temperature drops below 45 degrees in December, Blankenship keys on steeper banks and cuts in the coves close to the main channel. He catches both bass and crappie on this structure by slowly twitching a suspending stickbait that has a tint of blue, purple or chartreuse on the lure. “It seems like blue is an excellent color to have available for both bass and crappie on this lake,” Blankenship says.

White bass gang up on wind-blown points along the main lake throughout November. One of my favorite tactics for catching whites in the shallows then is to continually jerk a 4-inch Rebel Minnow (black back/chrome sides). The stickbait also triggers vicious strikes from heavyweight hybrid stripers lurking in the shallows.

Popping a topwater chugger and jig combination usually produces better numbers of white bass for me along the gravel points. I remove the front hook of the chugger to prevent line fouling and then tie about a 2-foot trailer line on the rear hook. I complete the rig by tying a white 1/16-ounce marabou jig on the trailer line.

The white bass action usually ends by the beginning of December when the water cools into the low 50s and the fish move out to school in deeper water.

For information on lodging 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.