Archive for lake of the ozarks

Lake of the Ozarks Free Fishing Seminars

Local experts share knowledge every Monday

Learn from local experts how to approach fishing Lake of the Ozarks from boat, bank or dock.

Experts share lake conditions, hottest techniques, patterns and more.

All anglers welcome…

Lake of the Ozarks free fishing seminars

Visit Lake of the Ozarks while traveling Route 66

Get Your Route 66 Kicks at Lake of the Ozarks

By John Neporadny Jr.

The nostalgia of Route 66 continues to captivate summer vacationers who want to cruise the legendary old highway through the heart of the country.

The old popular song “Get Your Kicks on Route 66” can certainly apply to bass anglers who want to cruise the interstates that roughly follow the old highway that was decommissioned in 1984. Bass anglers can follow the same route highlighted in the National Lampoon movie “Vacation” in which Clark Griswold takes his family from Chicago to Los Angeles to visit Walley World. However, the side trips you can take will be to some of the top bass fishing spots in the country rather than Clark’s zany misadventures off the beaten path to visit Dodge City or Cousin Eddie in Arizona.

One of those stops for bass anglers close to the old Route 66 is at Lake of the Ozarks. While travelling on Interstate 44 through Missouri, stop at Lebanon and head north on Missouri Highway 5 for about 25 miles to reach the Lake of the Ozarks. The 54,000-acre lake was the largest manmade reservoir in the world when the dam across the Osage River was built in 1931. The lake has been the site for Bassmaster Central Opens and Invitationals throughout the years and former Bassmaster Classic champions Denny Brauer and Guido and Dion Hibdon honed their skills while guiding and competing in tournaments there.

Thousands of boat docks lining the lake’s 1,150 miles of shoreline provide excellent year-round cover for largemouth and spotted bass. The lake lost most of its natural cover when the standing timber was cleared before the lake was formed but anglers and dock owners are constantly filling the lake with new cover by planting brush piles throughout the impoundment. Summertime bass are also attracted to the lake’s steep bluffs, creek channels, humps and points.

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

The best summertime bass patterns at the lake include working 10-inch Berkley Power Worms in brush piles 15 to 30 feet deep and running deep-diving crankbaits or dragging Carolina-rigged creature baits on main lake points, channel drops and humps.

Recreational boat traffic is extremely heavy on the lake during the summer, so visiting bass anglers should try fishing early and late in the day. Fishing after sunset is excellent throughout the summer as it usually takes around 20 pounds to win night tournaments.

The 15-inch minimum length limit for largemouth bass imposed by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has helped produce consistently good bass fishing for more than three decades. In recent MDC electrofishing surveys taken on two arms of the lake, the percentages of keeper bass ranged from 15 to 24 percent.

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 Bassmaster Magazine.

Floating worm for Lake of the Ozarks

Floating worm trick for Lake of the Ozarks spawning bass

By John Neporadny Jr.

When pollen coats the water surface of Lake of the Ozarks, Mike Malone knows it’s time to throw a floating worm.

The pollen coating on the surface signifies bass are bedding on Malone’s home lake, but the tournament veteran suggests you can use other signs of spring in your region to determine when bass are spawning. When the spawn is on, Malone opts for the floating worm, a finesse bait that has produced for him for 20 years.

“It’s a stealthy, finesse bait that doesn’t make a lot of noise when it hits the water,” he says. “You are able to skip it under cover such as boat dock ramps, cables and tree limbs, etc. in a real quiet presentation. It works best during the spawn when the fish are pretty skittish.”

“Many times I have been able to fish behind guys who were flipping a jig, a worm or a tube and catch multiple fish with the worm,” Malone says. “I have had many 20-pound bags throwing that worm. It’s just a timing deal to catching the big ones and it is a pretty deadly bait for three or four weeks in the spring.”

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

The local angler will throw the floating worm in sunshine or overcast weather but wind creates problems for him since it tends to blow his line and unweighted worm too much. “Wind is taboo,” he says.

Finding the spawning banks is the key to Malone’s floating worm technique. On Lake of the Ozarks, Malone looks for pea gravel pockets or clay banks protected from the wind. He also throws the worm along indentations of bluff banks that hold spawning bass.

Malone’s favorite bait for this presentation is a 6-inch Zoom Trick Worm in bright hues such as yellow and bubble gum but occasionally he will throw a green pumpkin or bullfrog color worm to imitate bluegills. He recommends experimenting with different colors until you find one the fish seem to prefer. “The fish do get conditioned to seeing stuff over and over again, so anything different is probably going to work,” he says.

The Trick Worm is rigged wacky style by impaling a 1/0 Gamakatsu Drop Shot Hook slightly above the worm’s egg sack which gives the worm a fluttering action. “I want that worm to pulsate at both ends when I twitch it,” Malone says. His floating worm tackle consists of a 6-foot, 8-inch St. Croix Legend Elite medium action/extra fast tip spinning rod and Lew’s Tournament Pro Speed Spin spinning reel filled with 10- to 20-pound test Toray braided line in a low-visibility green.

Making long-distance deliveries is a key to Malone’s floating worm tactic. “It is pretty important to make long, long casts if the water is clear because typically those fish will see you by the time you see them,” he says. “If I can just make a long cast into an area where I can see beds but I don’t really see any fish that is a good thing because those fish are just in the shadows just off the beds. Nine out of 10 times I can catch one there.” He also turns off his electronics to prevent spooking these shallow fish.

Even though rigged without a weight, the Trick Worm sinks slowly throughout Malone’s presentation. Most of the time Malone retrieves the worm similar to a jerkbait with a twitch-twitch-pause cadence. He usually lets the worm sink for a second or two before repeating the sequence. The tournament competitor notices some days the fish want the worm moving but on other days he has to let it sink down to depths of 4 to 6 feet to trigger bites.

Since bigger bass usually inhale the worm, Malone sets the hook immediately when he feels a tick. “I reel up the slack and I pop them,” he says.

If he notices a bluegill biting on the worm, he lets the sunfish pull until it drops the worm and then gets ready for a bigger bite. “A lot of times that is when I catch a good bass because they hate bluegill,” he says.

The floating worm also serves as a good follow-up lure when a bass blows up and misses a Luckycraft Gunfish topwater plug Malone also likes to throw during the spawn. “Those big fish if they don’t kill (the topwater lure), they slap at it,” Malone says. “So they are exposed then and I drop my Talons (shallow-water anchors) and I throw that floating worm on them. Seventy-five percent of the time I am going to catch them then.”

When the floating worm bite is on, Malone recommends having plenty of worms on hand since you might be going through three to four bags of your favorite colors while catching 50 to 100 fish a day. The worm will produce both numbers and quality fish during the spawn. “I have caught a bunch of fish between 4 and 6 pounds on it,” says Malone, whose biggest bass caught on a floating worm was a 7-pounder.

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 Spawning Bass

Catching Spawning Bass Around Lake of the Ozarks Docks

by John Neporadny Jr.

Boat docks become a haven for black bass in the spring when it’s time for them to spawn at the Lake of the Ozarks. While fishing with former Lake of the Ozarks guide Jack Peischl years ago, he showed me a few tricks for taking spawning bass from these havens.

“One of the things a lot of people don’t realize on the Lake of the Ozarks is that during this time of year bass get back in any places where they have a lot of protection, so when they spawn their eggs don’t get washed away by the boat wakes or the wind,” says Jack Pieschl of Sunrise Beach, Mo. Some fish will be scattered on any available cover they find along the bank, but the biggest fish seek the best protection. “It seems like the big ones are smarter,” Pieschl says. “They know that docks offer the best protection of anything, so they’ll get back in behind the docks where the catwalk attaches to the dock and in the shady, flat secluded areas where you can hardly get to the fish.”

Since bass have plenty of hiding places among the lake’s myriad docks, finding the choice spawning banks is the key to catching these nesting bass. Pieschl looks for docks in the first or second pea gravel-pockets coming from the main channel back into a feeder creek. He avoids coves that have heavy water flow, and targets, quiet narrow pockets where maneuvering a jet ski or pleasure boat would be difficult. “Almost every pocket will have one side that is pretty steep and the other side will be a little flatter,” Pieschl notes. He concentrates on docks along the deeper side of the pocket, which is usually where the biggest fish build their nests. “Bigger bass tend to stay on the deeper side,” Pieschl says.Since he prefers clear water for locating bass on the nest, Pieschl favors the coves and pockets close to his home in the Shawnee Bend and Horseshoe Bend areas on the lake. Other good clear-water sections to try Pieschl’s techniques are the Gravois arm and the North Shore area.

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

In the early stages of the spawn, bass are busy building their nests so they are susceptible to bottom-bumping lures, such as jigs and plastic craws, tube baits and plastic lizards. One of Pieschl’s favoritie ways to catch these fish is to throw a 7-inch plastic lizard in either pumpkinseed or pumpkinseed with a chartreuse tail into the bass’ nest. If a fish ignores the lure after it settles in the nest, Pieschl starts tapping the butt end of his casting rod to make the lure quiver. Keeping the lure quivering in the nest for a couple of minutes tends to aggravate the bass into hitting the lizard.

Pieschl often has to fish in close quarters behind docks, so he selectsa 5 1/2-foot rod with a fast tip that allows him to skip his bait under the dock cables. When flipping behind the docks, he relies on a 6 1/2- to 7 1/2-foot heavy-action rod that has enough backbone to pull the fish away from the dock’s cables and other obstacles. He uses 8-pound test line for skipping his lures and 10- to 12-pound test for pitching and flipping.

When the fish are guarding the nest or roaming around it later in the spawn, Pieschl switches to a suspending stickbait that he jerks behind the docks. This technique is especially effective for bigger bass that spawn behind the deeper docks. ‘The bigger bass want to spawn on the back of docks where the water is at least 3 or 4 feet deep,” Pieschl says. Sight fishing can be difficult in this situation due to the shadows of the docks and a bottom-bumping lure tends to blend in with the bottom when it sinks 3 to 4 feet deep. By using the stickbait, Pieschl can see the lure during his whole presentation and the fish will move off the nest to take a swipe at the flashing bait. “Those are fish that a lot of people don’t fool with,” says Pieschl. “When they sight fish here, they spend a great deal of time fishing for the bass that are easiest to see.”

Pieschl moves in behind the docks and pitches his stickbait over the cables and under the catwalks to the bass lurking in the shadows. “It’s very important that you can cast exactly where you want the bait to land,” he says. An errant cast could wrap your lure around a cable or catwalk. Pieschl prefers for the lure to splash when it hits the water, which attracts the bass’ attention.

His technique works best on calm, sunny days because the fish holdtighter to the docks then. Bass tend to roam more on cloudy days. Pieschl selects a medium-diver suspending stickbait with chrome sides for sunny days and a gold-bodied stickbait for cloudy weather. After pitching behind the dock, Pieschl pulls the stickbait with his rod tip down, which causes the lure to dive about 1 foot. He tries to bounces the lure up and down in the same spot on a slack line. Pulling the lure too hard causes the stickbait to move too far towards him and away from the fish. The stickbait hovering in one place resembles a bluegill darting around the nest, which triggers the bass into attacking this intruder. “Bass are reluctant to chase things very far during this time,” Pieschl says. “But if they are behind those docks, they are on the nests and they’ll guard them closely.” Sometimes Pieschl lets the lure sit on the surface and barely twitches it to make the stickbait wobble. This action causes some bass to move up and smash the lure on top.

The stickbait technique allows Pieschl to cover the back of a dock with one retrieve that lasts about 30 seconds. If he knows the spot has a big fish on the nest, he will cast to the same area five or six times before moving to the next dock.

Even though the fish can probably see him, Pieschl claims they still repeatedly strike at the lure and eventually get hooked. The stickbait’s three sets of treble hooks stick even fish that just bump the lure as they try to knock it away from the nest.

The fun begins after the fish is hooked. “Most of the time you have them on only 15 to 20 foot of line and they can get under the dock or into the brush behind the docks,” Pieschl says. The guide relies on bait-casting equipment and 10- to 12-pound test line to horse the fish out from behind a dock. Since he’s constantly fishing over the cables, Pieschl frequently reties his line.

When you fish the Lake of the Ozarks this spring, look for docks in secluded pockets to twitch a stickbait or quiver a lizard around for nesting 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.

Casey Scanlon shares dock fishing tips for Lake of the Ozarks

Lake of the Ozarks dock fishing with Casey Scanlon

By John Neporadny Jr.

Boat docks are high priority targets for Casey Scanlon whenever he practices for a tournament at Lake of the Ozarks.

Scanlon admits targeting docks gives him confidence, especially since he guides on Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks, the 54,000-acre reservoir loaded with countless docks. So it is a given that the first piece of cover Scanlon checks out in practice will be a dock.

Throughout his pro career, Scanlon has fished all sorts of docks ranging from the stationary wooden piers to floating structures secured with steel cables. Scanlon mainly fishes the floating-style boat houses attached to steel cables on his home lake.

The FLW Tour pro considers docks ideal cover because the structures extend over a wide range of depths. “You can fish them from zero to 30 feet deep,” says Scanlon. “A lot of times home owners put brush under them (a bonus piece of cover).” The boat houses also allow bass to move up and down in the water column where they can suspend right under the foam of the floating structures or at a mid-depth range or hug the bottom.

Boat docks attract plenty of forage fish for bass too. “Every dock is going to have bluegill underneath it and it is nice to find docks where the shad are congregating around as well,” Scanlon says. “There is always going to be bait present and mostly in the form of bluegill which I think bigger fish prefer.”

Docks also create a lot of shade where bass can lurk and set up to ambush baitfish. “I always keep an eye on shade and am aware of it in case I start getting bites,” Scanlon says. “I always fish the shady side (of docks) a little bit harder.” Scanlon notes the only time he avoids the shady side of docks is during winter and early spring when bass seek warmer water. Then he keys on the sunny side of a dock, especially where the sunshine is hitting the black floatation, which generates warmer water.

“An ideal dock to me is the biggest I can find without being a marina dock,” says Scanlon, who prefers large private docks that can cast expansive shade.

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

The local pro also favors fishing isolated docks or if an area is loaded with boat houses, he keys on the first few docks heading into a creek, the last few docks in the back of a creek, or docks situated on a point or break line. “I rarely go down a row of 20 docks that are all in 15 feet of water,” he says.

When he has to fish an area with rows of docks, Scanlon tries to pick out individual targets rather than fish a whole row. “I will side scan (the docks) with my Garmin electronics and look at my down view and see where the fish are positioned,” Scanlon says. “I am mostly looking for cover so if one of the docks has a brush pile underneath that is the one I am going to target. I also look for the biggest one and the ugliest one with stuff falling off of it. I also look for rod holders and fish baskets–just signs that a fisherman lives there.”

Docks are productive year-round for Scanlon, so here are his tips on how to fish this type of cover throughout the four seasons at Lake of the Ozarks.

Winter

“A lot of the fish will either be around docks in the deep guts in the very back of the creeks or isolated docks on a secondary point or the main lake,” Scanlon says. “Basically I am looking for a dock that has a lot of depth under it and I am looking for a lot of shad. I look for docks where the fish don’t have to move a whole lot. If it is sunny they can slide up in 10 feet of water and then they can slide back the other direction by 10 or 12 feet into depths of 30 to 40 feet. “

On extremely sunny days, Scanlon will fish the back side of docks along steep banks, but most of the time he keys on the sides of docks or wherever he finds brush piles near the floating structure. “Bass like to suspend that time of year so if there is some brush on the side or if there is a brush pile behind the dock I will flip a jig there,” Scanlon says. He also concentrates on the front of large boat houses where bass hang around the steel cables that anchor the docks.

Spring

“I am looking for the transitions in the bank where the channel bank turns down into gravel, which is where the fish are looking to spawn,” Scanlon says. “So I like docks that are situated really close to the bank, especially if the back of the dock is up on the bank.” He believes bass flock to these shallow docks because the cover is similar to a laydown log that provides bass with shelter extending from the bank out to deeper water. When bass move to the bank to spawn, Scanlon fishes the back side of the docks then.

Summer

Similar to winter, Scanlon keys on deep-water docks that attract plenty of shad. “So I am looking for those isolated docks and trying to catch fish suspended on the front corners that are looking for bait,” says Scanlon, who keys on large docks on main lake points and channel swings. He also fishes brush piles near those docks and works his lures along the bottom for bass holding tight to the wood cover.

Fall

The touring pro concentrates on isolated docks along main lake flats or the last few docks on flats in the creeks. Tracking shad is the key to finding the most productive lures during this season.

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.

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.