Archive for lake of the ozarks

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.

Key On Isolated Cover for Lake of the Ozarks bass

Key On Isolated Cover for Lake of the Ozarks bass

By John Neporadny Jr.

Lake of the Ozarks guide Jack Uxa has a simple game plan for anglers to follow during autumn.

Targeting shallow isolated cover is Uxa’s recommendation. “Spend five minutes idling in the back of some no-wake cove because you know there is one big stump or log back there,” he says. “If it is isolated cover a big bass can take ownership of that and the fish can be a like a little bulldog and come up and eat a buzz bait or some other type of reaction bait like a square-bill (crankbait) or you can pitch a jig to it.”

The most productive shallow cover during autumn will be in the upper sections of the Grand Glaize, Linn Creek, Niangua, Little Niangua and the various creeks up the Osage arm. Uxa notes that anglers wanting to fish the lower lake near Alhonna Resort can try Buck and Blue creeks or run up the Gravois arm.

Uxa concentrates on the 20- to 30-mile mark of the Osage arm because that is the area he frequently works through his business, Jack’s Guide Service, at Tan-Tar-A Resort. So he suggests visiting anglers should also try familiar waters. “Go fish the area you know the best that way you can adapt the best,” he advises.

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

Isolated cover less than 2 feet deep on the flats in the backs of the creeks will hold the best fish. Uxa recommends trolling around to find isolate logs, stumps, docks, sunken boat lifts, small stickups and any stuff your trolling motor knocks into that is below the surface. The most productive cover will be near deeper water. “A lot of the spots are not going to be good,” warns Uxa. “You are going to fail about 90 percent of the time but it only takes one big fish.”

The presence of schools of shad or scattered baitfish will enhance the targeted area. “Baitfish are going to be just about everywhere in October,” says Uxa.

On the initial approach to a piece of shallow cover, anglers should run a buzz bait or fast-moving topwater plug over the target, according to Uxa. Then they should follow up with a jig or another slow-moving lure such as a Texas-rigged Brush Hog or 10-inch plastic worm. Uxa favors a black buzz bait for his surface presentation and pitches a 1/2-ounce jig in a peanut butter and jelly hue with a green pumpkin Berkley Powerbait Chigger Chunk when he wants to probe into the cover. He prefers the heavy jig for a faster fall to trigger reaction strikes.

“How that lure enters the water is really going to be critical,” says Uxa. “A lot of people are going to be making ‘somewhat okay’ casts but you want your cast to enter the water really nice and quiet.” The guide also recommends fishing the entire length of a shallow log and at different angles because a big bass could be holding anywhere on the piece of cover.

One detriment to fishing shallow during October is the dreaded turnover. “Our fall could be different this year,” says Uxa. “Since the water temp was cooler in August, the turnover could be earlier this year—and maybe not as intense.”

The local guide notes that turnover doesn’t occur everywhere on the lake at the same time and the lake is big enough to find areas unaffected by this fall phenomenon. “If you are out there and nothing is going on, somewhere on this lake it is too good to keep it down for too long,” says Uxa. “There is somewhere on this lake where they are going to catch them.”

Anyone coming to the lake for the first time should consider hiring a guide to learn more about the lake. “I will teach you a lot about where to go, where the resorts are or if there are any dangerous areas where you need to idle,” says Uxa. “I can definitely help you out there. If you have never fished docks or humps before, I can help you do that.”

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 Bluffs

Bluffing For Big Bass at Lake of the Ozarks

By John Neporadny Jr.

Bluffs and docks could be a winning combination for Lake of the Ozarks anglers this autumn.

“I would start in the morning and hit as many bluff end docks as I could because those big fish will come up and suspend under those docks in the fall,” says James Dill of James Dill Guide Service and owner of Crock-O-Gator Bait Company. “I have caught a lot of big fish on an isolated dock that other people just blow by.”

Quality bass that usually hang along the bluff drops during the summer start suspending when the shad move to the surface in the fall. The bass suspend under the bluff-end docks sitting over depths of more than 50 feet and use the boathouses as ambush points to pick off shad. Dill notes this pattern works best when the water temperature drops into the 70-degree range from mid-September to November.

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

The local guide tempts these suspending bass with a black 3/4-ounce Crock-O-Gator Headknocker Buzz Bait with a gold blade which he retrieves on 17-pound fluorocarbon line along the sides of the dock all the way to the front ends. “I wil start out reeling it pretty fast and then I will slow it down until I catch a couple,” says Dill. “You may hit a bunch of docks and not catch too many but sooner or later when you do catch a fish doing that it is going to be a good one.” Most of the strikes occur on the front corners of the docks although Dill occasionally catches some fish midway down the sides of the docks.

The bluff pattern works for Dill on the whole lake, but when he’s fishing the lower end he usually throws a Zara Spook on 14-pound monofilament around the docks in the clearer water. Dill advises any angler practicing for a tournament should run the lake and search a 15-mile stretch for isolated docks on the bluff ends. “See how many of those docks you can find in a certain area,” says Dill, who warns anglers to avoid fishing those docks during practice.

Another main lake pattern that produces quality fish for Dill in early October involves stair-stepping a jig down bluff shelves, a structure that big bass live on year-round. Dill opts for a 3/4-ounce Crock-O-Gator Reaction Jig or a 1-ounce football jig in dark colors (brown, green or black-and-blue) tipped with a bulky plastic trailer in the same color. He keys on shelves in the 15- to 18-foot depth range where he pops the jig off a shelf and lets it fall quickly to the next shelf. The local guide repeats the process until the lure drops off into the channel.

Dill likes to make a milk run of bluff docks before 10 a.m. and makes about five to eight casts per dock. Once the sun rises higher in the sky and starts casting shadows around the docks, Dill moves to the back of creeks and coves to target shallow docks. “If it is quiet and nobody has been back there you can catch big fish out of a foot of water,” says Dill.

The buzz bait still produces later in the day for Dill if he throws it to the shady areas of the docks. Then he likes to flip the buzzer into the wells where the lure’s buzzing sound echoes off the boat hoists. “It sends a whole different sound in there especially on those shallow docks,” reveals Dill. “When you flip all the way to the back and you bring that buzz bait and it is echoing through there, if there is a fish within 50 yards he is coming to eat that thing.”

Swimming a jig along the sides and in the wells of shallow docks also produces heavyweight bass for Dill in early October. Dill advises looking for bluegill keeping a safe distance from the docks. “If you are pitching those docks and there are bluegill that are 4 feet out looking into those dock corners there is a big fish there,” says Dill.

Bass can be found just about anywhere under a shallow dock, but the bigger fish tend to hide in hard-to-reach areas such as the walkways behind the dock cables and those small cracks in the flotation. “You have to hit those spots where nobody else has hit,” says Dill.

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 – Great Fishing Opportunities For All

Lake of the Ozarks is a great fishery

By John Neporadny Jr.

Known as one of the Midwest’s most popular vacation spots, Lake of the Ozarks also has a reputation of being one of the best fishing lakes in the country.

Although younger reservoirs appeal to an angler’s eye with flooded timber and undeveloped shorelines, the Lake of the Ozarks entices fishermen with its hidden charms. This 54,000-acre lake lost most of its natural cover when the standing timber was cleared before the lake was formed. New cover has developed over the years as dock owners and anglers have planted brush piles throughout the impoundment. Other fish-holding structure includes steep bluffs, creek channels, humps, and points. Docks provide plenty of shelter for a variety of fish, while lay-downs and log jams are the primary cover for bass, crappie and catfish in the undeveloped sections of the lake.

The various arms of the lake offer diverse water clarity and structure so anglers can catch fish on a wide range of tactics. The Osage arm runs 98 miles from Bagnell Dam to Truman Dam and changes drastically from one end to the other. The North Shore section close on the lower end contains some of the deepest and clearest water on the lake, while the upper Osage near Warsaw narrows until it turns riverine in appearance with the water remaining stained to murky most of the time. The winding Niangua arm resembles a large river more than a reservoir since it has few major coves and a narrow main channel for most of its length.

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

The 10-mile Gravois arm is one of the oldest developed sections of the lake so its shoreline is dotted with boat docks. Fed by the gin-clear waters of the Gravois, Little Gravois, Spring Branch, Soap, Indian and Mill creeks, this arm usually remains one of the clearest sections of the lake throughout the year. The Grand Glaize arm runs about 16 miles from its confluence with the Osage arm to the swinging bridges area where the Glaize narrows down to a stream.

If variety is indeed the spice of life, then Lake of the Ozarks spices anglers’ lives with its smorgasbord of fishing opportunities. The lake rates as one of the best reservoirs in Missouri for catching a variety of game fish. Largemouth bass and crappie are the most sought-after fish at the lake, but catfish, white bass, walleye and sunfish also offer plenty of action throughout the year.

The Missouri Department of Conservation’s 9-inch minimum length limit on crappie has helped keep crappie fishing consistently good throughout the year. Limits of keeper-size crappie can be taken in the shallows from March through May and again in October through early December. The key to catching crappie the rest of the year is to find some of the hundreds of brush piles sunken at various depths throughout the lake.

The lake is also loaded with keeper-size bass thanks to the Missouri Department of Conservation’s 15-inch minimum length regulation on black bass. Renowned for its bass fishing, Lake of the Ozarks draws numerous tournaments ranging in size from 10-boat bass club events to 150-boat national circuit contests, which are held each weekend just about year-round. With this sort of attention, the lake receives plenty of fishing pressure, yet still yields heavyweight stringers of bass to tournament competitors.

White bass are another popular catch in the spring and the fall. Local anglers head for the riffles in the major creeks and tributaries to catch spawning whites in April and May. In the fall, they target wind-blown points and pockets to track down white bass chasing baitfish.

Lake of the Ozarks catfish are an obliging sort. They will eat just about anything you put on a hook and can be taken on a variety of methods throughout the warmer months. The three most popular species to catch at the lake are channel, blue (or white cats as the local anglers call them) and flathead catfish. The lake has a reputation for yielding big blue cats each year and has also produced a former state record flathead catfish, a 66-pounder caught by Howard Brownfield in 1987.

Three state record fish have come from the Lake of the Ozarks. Gene Snelling caught a state record muskellunge (41 pounds, 2 ounces) in 1981; Allen Schweiss landed a 36-pound, 12-ounce smallmouth buffalo in 1986; and Ronald Wagner made the record book in 1980 with a 40-pound, 8-ounce freshwater drum.

Several marinas and resorts rent boat to visiting anglers who don’t own one and want to venture out on the water. Newcomers to the lake also can have a rewarding day on the water by hiring a Coast-Guard licensed guide.

Customers at the various lake resorts on the lake can enjoy catching crappie, bass bluegill and catfish from the docks that the resort owners enhance by sinking brush piles in multiple locations.

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 Fishing Vacation

Lake of the Ozarks for Family Fishing Vacation

By John Neporadny Jr.

Lake of the Ozarks is an excellent fishing spot that offers other recreational opportunities such as swimming, hiking, water skiing, sightseeing and camping that the whole family can enjoy.

My home lake is also one of the top family fishing vacation spots in the state, but to get in on the best bass fishing you have to be an early riser or a night owl. Recreational boating is the most popular sport on the lake during a summer day, so all the boat traffic makes it difficult to fish during the mid-day hours.

Savvy bass anglers usually wait for the sun to set before trying for bass. A Texas-rigged 10-inch Berkley Power Worm in black/blue or blue fleck hues is one of the most effective lures to throw for bass hanging out in brush piles 15 to 25 feet deep.

During the summer months, catfish and sunfish keep anglers busy baiting their hooks. “You can catch a ton of channel and blue catfish,” says James Bryant of Bryant’s Osage Outdoors in Laurie. The bait-and-tackle shop owner suggests families can have plenty of fun fishing for catfish and panfish (crappie, bluegill and green sunfish) off of docks and seawalls.

“We sell more panfish equipment here than anything else in the store,” says Bryant. “Pan fishing is the staple of the Lake of the Ozarks. That is what the lake is all about. You don’t have to have an expensive boat; you can enjoy fishing the Lake of the Ozarks from a lawn chair.”

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

Customers at the various resorts on the lake enjoy catching crappie, bass, bluegill and catfish from docks that the resort owners enhance by sinking brush piles in multiple locations. “We have a fishing dock and it produces crappie almost year round,” says Michael Spriggs, owner of Point Randall Resort.

Tight lining for catfish off the resort docks offers families a great chance for a bragging-size catch. “We have a picture on our wall of a kid who caught a 17-pound blue cat right off of our fishing dock,” Spriggs says.

Popular attractions at Lake of the Ozarks include Big Surf amusement park, Miner Mike’s Indoor Family Fun Center, HaHa Tonka State Park, Lake of the Ozarks State Park, Bridal Cave, the Bagnell Dam Strip and the Osage Beach Premium Outlets mall.

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.

Family Fishing Vacation at Lake of the Ozarks

Family Fishing Vacation at Lake of the Ozarks

By John Neporadny Jr.

When I was a kid, I always cherished our summer fishing trips more than any of our other family vacation excursions.

When I moved from St. Louis to Lake of the Ozarks with my own family, we spent a lot of our summers at home where my daughters learned to fish, swim and water ski. We also visited most of the local attractions including Big Surf water park, HaHa Tonka State Park, the Bagnell Dam Strip and Bridal Cave.

So I have spent a lot of family fishing outings at one of the best lakes in the state, which can also be a great family-friendly vacation destination.

Heavy recreational boat traffic makes fishing tough on my home lake during the summer, but families can still catch plenty of fish if they pick the right times and locations.

When I guided on the lake, I would usually take my clients out bass fishing early in the morning and try to get off the water before noon. In June, we would catch keeper bass and plenty of sub-legal fish on Texas-rigged plastic worms, medium-diving crankbaits, topwater chuggers and Carolina-rigged plastic lizards. I would usually start out on the main lake points in the early morning and as the boat traffic increased I would head for the backs of the major coves and have my clients work plastic worms through the brush piles around docks.

Catfish provide plenty of action for families on vacation at Lake of the Ozarks. Blue and channel catfish can be taken on juglines, trotlines or drifting with cut shad or tight lining from the resort docks with stink baits, nightcrawlers or chicken livers.

Kids can catch bluegill and green sunfish all day long off the resort docks or seawalls. Attaching a small bobber to their lines and baiting their hooks with red wigglers, crickets or even pieces of bread or hot dogs will keep the kids busy until they get tired of catching fish.

Resort owners usually sink brush piles around their docks, which makes these spots ideal for catching crappie at night under the lights. Minnows and jigs are all a family needs to catch some nighttime crappie in June.

The lake area offers families plenty of amenities and attractions when they come off the water. Popular activities at the lake include visiting Big Surf water park, Miner Mike’s Indoor Family Fun Center, HaHa Tonka State Park, Bridal Cave and the Bagnell Dam Strip or shopping at the Osage Beach Premium Outlets mall.

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.