Archive for lake of the ozarks

Upper Lake of the Ozarks Summer Bass Fishing

Upper Lake of the Ozarks Is Summer Bass Fishing Getaway

By John Neporadny Jr.

Bass fishing on Lake of the Ozarks in August? Even the most die-hard bass angler cowers at the thought of having to venture on this pleasure-boat mecca during the heat of summer.

Yet despite all the rocking and rolling waters on most of the lake, the upper reaches of the lake’s Osage arm offer refuge from the pleasure boating crowds—and some good bass action with a minimal amount of fishing pressure. “From Memorial Day to Labor Day there’s not much bass fishing pressure,” says Roger Fitzpatrick, an Eldon, MO, angler who took third place in the 2001 Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League All-American. He notes a few club tournaments are held in August at Drake Harbor, but most of the fishing pressure in that area comes later in the month when tournament anglers begin pre-fishing for fall events.

“Fishing pressure is a lot less up there than it is on some of the other parts of the lake,” says Chad Brauer, a former B.A.S.S. titleholder from Osage Beach, MO.

The run from the lake’s most popular tournament site at Grand Glaize Public Beach 2 to the upper Osage (a one-hour ride even on smooth water) contributes to the lack of angling pressure. “That automatically eliminates quite a few boats from committing to make that long of a run, especially in August,” says Brauer. “If it’s on a weekend you’re going to have 30 miles of real rough water.”

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

The upper Osage (from Little Buffalo Creek to Truman Dam) is similar to the higher reaches of the Grand Glaize, Niangua and Gravois tributaries. All have stained to murky water and mud flats dotted with lay-downs and submerged logs and brush. However the larger Osage arm contains more mud flats and its water clarity varies more often. “Some of the dirtiest water can typically be found from Cole Camp Creek to the Buffaloes, but then right below Truman Dam can have really clear water sometimes,” discloses Fitzpatrick.

The lake turns into a slow, meandering river in this section and navigation becomes more treacherous. Siltation has filled in the mouths of the feeder creeks, coves and sloughs so anglers need to use extreme caution when navigating on the upper end. Keeping an eye on their electronics helps them follow the channel when running the main lake and find the boat lanes to get into the creeks.

The numerous feeder creeks in this riverine section make it distinct from other sections of the Lake of the Ozarks. “It’s one of the areas on the lake that actually has some of the big creeks that look like traditional creeks with actual channels and bluff banks in the back of them,” says Brauer. “Whereas in the lower end of the lake many of the creeks are big coves that really don’t have distinctive channels.” The backs of the upper Osage arm creeks also contain mud flats, plenty of lay-downs and other natural cover, and a constant flow of water throughout the year.

The most prominent feeder streams in this area include Little Buffalo, Big Buffalo, Deer, Cole Camp and Turkey creeks. Brauer has had plenty of success in Cole Camp and Turkey, but he believes all of the upper Osage creeks produce bass. “There is really not a bad one in the bunch,” he says. “I can think of times when I’ve caught good fish in all of them. They all seem to have good populations of fish.”

If the water level is up, the sloughs within four miles of Truman Dam also produce bass action. “Those are actually a little bit better at times because they don’t get quite as much pressure as the bigger creeks do,” says Brauer. “Maybe they don’t have as many fish in them, but you don’t have as many people going in them. So the fish in there are a little easier to catch.”

The water level determines where Brauer fishes the upper end. His first choice is the creeks if the water level is up. “You start to see more baitfish move toward the backs of those creeks,” says Brauer. “That’s a big key to see a lot of baitfish swimming up on the flats. The weather is still pretty hot but bass are following those baitfish so they really don’t mind that warmer water temperature in the shallows. So that’s really the first place on the Lake of the Ozarks where the fall shallow bite comes on.”

Isolated logs and boat docks along the flats are key targets for Brauer. He usually finds bass anywhere from 1 to 5 feet deep at this time. “The fish get shallower and shallower as the water gets cooler,” he notes. Brauer also concentrates on docks or lay-downs along bluff banks where bass are suspended 2 to 3 feet deep over depths of 10 to 12 feet.

The main channel also produces bass, especially in low-water conditions. “It’s basically the same pattern,” suggests Brauer. “Get out on those flats and fish isolated cover. You’ll see the baitfish there and you know the bass will be there once you see the baitfish move up.”

Brauer relies on two lures to take bass from the upper Osage in August. He usually starts swimming a white 1/4-ounce Strike King Pro Model jig and white pork or plastic grub trailer around the isolated cover or the boat docks. A white or white-and-chartreuse Strike King Elite spinnerbait also works for Brauer. “It’s a matter of getting the spinnerbait around that cover,” says Brauer. “Sometimes you can burn it and then kill it to get strikes.” On cloudy days, Brauer likes to throw a buzz bait along the flats.

A lack of tournaments in August has prevented Fitzpatrick from fishing the upper Osage lately, but throughout the years the Missouri angler relied on boat docks to produce the best pattern in late summer. If the lake was high, Fitzpatrick also ran to the back of creeks to fish the shallow cover.

“I don’t fish anything deeper than 5 feet,” says Fitzpatrick of his targets on the upper end. Fitzpatrick keys on selected docks with brush piles both on the main channel and in the creeks. “There are times when you’ll get bites on both of them but usually if you fish 15 of the best out of each of them you can determine whether the dock pattern on the main lake or in the coves will be the strongest.”

Swimming a jig around the docks is his favorite technique on the upper Osage during August. Fitzpatrick selects a white 3/8-ounce jig tipped with a white plastic grub trailer.

During other times of the year, current affects the fishing in this area. “But in August there usually isn’t any or very little,” says Fitzpatrick. “There are times when the current is going that the fish tend to get around points better but I can only remember a handful of times when there was current in August.”

Brauer also believes water flow has little effect on his patterns then. “Sometimes you’ll get a little bit of current that may stir the baitfish up a little more or get the bass a little bit more active,” he says. “But once the fish move on those shallow flats in the backs of the creeks, current really doesn’t play as much of a role as it does in the summer when the fish are a little bit deeper.”

Largemouth bass dominate the catch on the upper Osage. “You can catch small fish, but it seems like that end of the lake doesn’t have quite as many numbers of 12-inch fish,” says Brauer, who caught his first bass weighing more than 7 pounds on the upper end in August. “You seem to get better quality fish. On a good day on the lower end you might catch 20 to 30 fish. On a good day up there you might catch 15 but your five best are going to be bigger.”

Fitzpatrick offers about the same assessment of the upper Osage’s bass population. “You don’t usually catch a lot of 6-and 7-pounders but there are plenty of 4- and 5-pound fish,” he says. “You are more apt to catch those size fish and lots of keepers.”

Catching quality bass in August on Lake of the Ozarks? It’s possible if you leave the lower lake to the pleasure boaters and seek the solitude of the upper Osage.

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 Bass Fishing Niangua Arm

Catching Bass on Lake of the Ozarks’ Niangua Arm

John Neporadny Jr.

The winding Niangua arm of the Lake of the Ozarks resembles a large river more than a reservoir since it has few major coves and a narrow main channel for most of its length. However this riverine section annually yields some big bass.

“Most of the banks there all look the same so you have to fish something with some type of drop-off to it,” suggests Marty McGuire, a veteran bass tournament competitor and owner of Marty’s Marine in Osage Beach. No major creeks run into the Niangua, but it is fed by another large tributary, the Little Niangua River.

Since it’s farther away from the popular tournament site at PB2, the Niangua seems to experience less fishing pressure from bass anglers. However, the arm receives plenty of traffic—especially in the spring–from crappie anglers, who launch their boats at the Larry R. Gale Conservation Access.

This section of the lake has a reputation of producing big bass each year. “There are a lot of great big fish on that arm, but you don’t just go up there and catch one of them,” warns McGuire, who believes the largest concentration of heavyweight bass are probably in the milfoil of the HaHa Tonka Springs cove. “You could go up there and fish a month and never get a bite and then pull up in there one day and catch 20 out of it, including a 10-pounder. Probably 90 percent of the fish that I’ve caught over 7 pounds on this lake have come from the Niangua.” He rates April as the prime time to catch a big bass on the Niangua, but September and October are also good months for lunkers there.

In extremely cold weather during January, McGuire relies on a 3-inch green pumpkin tube attached to a 1/8- or 1/ 4-ounce jighead. He slowly works

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

the lure on 8-pound test line through brush piles and along points.

When the water temperature ranges from 39 to 45 degrees in January and February, McGuire depends on a medium-diving suspending stickbait that he twitches on spinning tackle with 8-pound line. His favorite hue for clear water is black back, yellow and green sides and chartreuse belly) while a gray ghost model (black back and gray sides) produces best for him in tinted water.

McGuire slowly pulls the Rogue over brush piles 10 to 12 feet deep along bluff points and pockets. “The slower you fish it, the better chance a bass has to eat it,” he advises.

When the water temperature climbs above 46 degrees, McGuire switches to a Storm Lures Wiggle Wart crankbait that he runs on 8- to 10-pound test along flatter banks leading into pockets. His favorite crankbait colors are black-and-chartreuse for dirty water and brown-and-orange in clear water.

The local angler also relies on a brown-and-chartreuse or brown-and-orange finesse jig tipped with a green pumpkin plastic craw that he ties on 8- to 10-pound line. McGuire pitches to the bank and crawls the jig back over big rocks and logs 6 to 8 feet deep. “The fish don’t seem to get awful deep there,” claims McGuire. “Even when the water temperature is around 40 degrees I catch most of my fish from 6 to 10 feet deep.”

During the spawn, some bass can be caught by sight fishing around docks in the clear water section near the Highway 5 Bridge. McGuire looks for nesting fish behind docks and along seawalls in the flat pockets. His favorite lures for bedding bass include white, pink or green floating worms and Zoom Flukes, white tube baits and a jig-and-craw combo. McGuire also uses floating stickbaits that he rips through the nest to trigger a reaction strike. Spinning tackle and 8- to-10-pound test line are McGuire’s choice for the soft plastics; he relies on bait-casting tackle and 15-pound test line for fishing the jig behind the docks. Depending on the moon phases and the weather, the spawn on the Niangua usually occurs in the middle to latter part of April, McGuire discloses.

A 1/2-ounce Crock-O-Gator buzz bait produces bass for McGuire during the post spawn. He favors a white buzzer on sunny days and a black model during overcast weather. If the fish blow up and continue to miss the buzz bait, McGuire switches to a Heddon Super Spook in black, clear or shad pattern hues. He works the topwater lures around big rocks, concrete pillars of docks or shallow brush in areas close to the spawning banks.

Bass sometimes can be taken flipping a jig-and-craw during a hot summer day. “It is so unpredictable there in the daytime of summer,” cautions McGuire. “You can go up the rivers, get on the mud flats and flip the shallow boat docks and one day you may catch 50 fish, but you may go back and not have a bite there for a month.” McGuire also flips a Texas-rigged magnum tube (green pumpkin or black with red flake) to the shallow docks.

The most consistent bass action on the Niangua is at night. McGuire opts for 10-inch Berkley Power Worms or 6- to 7-inch paddle tail worms that he drags through brush piles 10 to 15 feet deep along main lake points, ledges and steep banks. His favorite worm colors are red shad or black for the Power Worms and green pumpkin for the paddle tails. He throws the worms on 20-pound line throughout most of the summer, although he scales down to 15-pound test late in the season to get more bites.

In September, McGuire continues to flip the jig or tube along rows of shallow boat docks. When the water cools down to the lower 60s in October, McGuire runs a spinnerbait or swims a jig along the sides of docks. He selects a white 3/8- to 1/ 2-ounce jig combined with a white pork chunk to imitate shad in the fall and attaches the combo to 20-pound test line. Most of the time, McGuire steadily cranks the jig next to the dock’s foam and lets it drop at the corner of the dock before reeling it in for another pitch.

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.

Summer Bass Fishing at Lake of the Ozarks

Lake of the Ozarks Fast Lane to Great Fishing

by John Neporadny Jr.

While cursed by many anglers, recreational boat traffic is a blessing in disguise for bass at the Lake of the Ozarks.

“Bass don’t get any fishing pressure here in the summertime,” says 1997 BASS Masters Classic champion and FLW pro Dion Hibdon, who started guiding on this central Missouri lake before he even got his driver’s license. “We get very little fishing pressure even during the spawn because most of the bass spawn in May and a lot of the big boats are already out by then.”

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

When balmy weather arrives in May, the fleets of cabin cruisers, off-shore racing boats, pleasure boats, house boats and jet skis churn the waters and chase bass anglers off the lake. Hibdon believes this lack of fishing pressure helps bass recuperate from the spawn and protect their fry, which increases the survival rate of young bass. “The boat traffic then gives those young bass a good start and it shows,” the Stover, Mo., angler says. ” We have just as good of a bass population as any lake in the country.”

Constructed during the Great Depression, 54,000-acre Lake of the Ozarks was the largest man-made lake when it officially opened May 30, 1931. Fed by the Osage and Niangua rivers, the reservoir can be divided into three distinct sections. The lower end near Bagnell Dam typifies a highland reservoir with its deep, clear water. The mid-lake section still has steep banks, but the water turns stained. As you move up the Osage and Niangua arms, you run into typical river conditions of shallow, dirty water and lay-downs scattered along the banks.

“The lake has an extremely good river system that is partly current-oriented,” says Hibdon. Bass can be caught 2 to 3 feet deep year-round in the riverine sections of the lake. Bass-holding structure throughout the lake includes creek and river channel bends, bluffs, points and flats. Most of the banks consist of either chunk rock or pea gravel.

Potential bass cover vanished when developers removed most of the timber before the lake was filled. But bass found new havens when boat docks spread over the impoundment. “That’s kind of the ultimate cover,” says Hibdon. “You can get a bait down through grass or brush, but there is absolutely no way you can fish a boat dock completely. Docks also have lots of places for bass fry to hide behind and get bigger.”

Docks usually have another piece of man-made cover nearby. “Every boat dock has a little dab of brush around it,” says Hibdon. Thousands of docks dot the lake, but certain ones produce more bass.

The pre-spawn (March and April) rates as Hibdon’s best time to catch quality bass and numbers of fish. The whole lake produces consistent action in the late spring and throughout the summer, Hibdon says. During early summer, the touring pro relies on shad-pattern crankbaits to catch bass roaming along points or 7- and 8-inch plastic worms for fish holding in brush less than 10 feet deep. He prefers a motor oil worm in the clear water and black or tequila sunrise worm in the stained sections of the lake. Later in the summer, Hibdon works a 10-inch plastic worm or a deep-diving crankbait through the brush. The boat traffic drives bass 15 to 20 feet deep on the lower end of the lake. You can catch bass in shallower brush the farther you move up the rivers.

The summer heat and increased boat traffic turn bass into nocturnal feeders. Night fishing is excellent on the Lake of the Ozarks from the end of June through September on the lower end of the lake. A five-fish limit weighing more than 20 pounds is sometimes required to win local weeknight tournaments running 3 1/2 hours.

A black spinnerbait worked through the brush produces at night through June. Later in the summer, local anglers switch to a 10-inch plastic worm which they crawl along the rocky bottom or through brush on main and secondary points.

The lake is an ideal spot to combine a fishing trip with a family vacation. Nestled in the foothills of the Ozarks, the lake’s 1,150 miles of shoreline and its surrounding communities draw more than 3 million visitors a year to partake in the area’s limitless recreational opportunities. Water sports include swimming at beaches and pools at the area resorts, motels or condominiums, waterskiing, parasailing, and boating. Full-service marinas rent speedboats, houseboats, pontoons, jet skis, fishing boats, paddleboats and sailboats. Other recreation available in the area includes golf, horseback riding, tennis, hiking, bowling and trap shooting.

Numerous restaurants, ranging from fast-food to gourmet, are scattered throughout the lake area, including several eateries located on the lake with access by land or water. Many lodging facilities are available ranging from cabins and condominiums to hotels, motels and luxury resorts. The lake also has plenty of public campgrounds and tent and trailer campsites in the Lake of the Ozarks State Park. The 17,203-acre park, the largest in the Missouri park system, also has two free swimming beaches, boat launching facilities, boat rentals and hiking trails. Tourists also visit Ha Ha Tonka State Park to view the area’s scenic valley, high bluffs, rocky slopes and the ruins of Ha Ha Tonka castle, a European-style mansion built in 1922 but gutted 20 years later by a fire.

Another tourist attraction is the mile-long area near the dam known as “The Strip.” This area houses boutiques, craft, souvenirs and T-shirt shops, restaurants, arcades and amusements for the whole family. Families can also be entertained at the lake’s amusement centers such as Big Surf Water Park, Big Shot Fun Park, Miner Mike’s Adventure Zone and the area’s numerous miniature golf courses and go-kart race tracks.

Shoppers can visit the Factory Outlet Village in Osage Beach or other craft and antique shops around the lake. The area also hosts a variety of festivals and special events throughout the year and offers traditional Ozark-style music shows. Scheduled shows normally run from April through October with Christmas shows in November and December.

The Lake of the Ozarks is the only tourist destination in the United States with four show caves within 30 miles of each other. Guided tours are available at Bridal Cave, Jacob’s Cave Fantasy World Caverns and Ozark Caverns.

There’s enough attractions and recreational activities at the Lake of the Ozarks to keep your whole family entertained during a summer vacation. The highlight of your trip though will be the early morning topwater action or nocturnal thrills of fighting a hefty bass burrowed in a brush pile.

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

Copies of John Neporadny’s book, “THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Guide” are available by calling 573/365-4296 or visiting the web site www.jnoutdoors.com.

(Reprinted with permission from Bassmaster Magazine)

Lake of the Ozarks Bass Behind Docks

by John Neporadny Jr.

Bass can be about anywhere around a Lake of the Ozarks dock in most situations, except when fishing pressure drives them to hard-to-reach places.

A bass’ favorite hideout is usually behind the steel cables of the boathouses. During their formative years of fishing Lake of the Ozarks‘ countless docks, Missouri anglers Chad Brauer and Dion Hibdon discovered how bass flock to this security zone while the majority of anglers shy away from these line-busting obstacle courses.

“Bass get behind those docks and it automatically eliminates a percentage of the fishermen from even coming by the fish,” says Brauer. “They won’t put any effort in to get behind the docks and the cables because they think they are going to get hung up or if they get a fish back there they can’t get it out anyway.”

Both pros have perfected tactics for pulling bass out of these high-risk areas. Brauer favors pitching a 3/8-ounce jig and plastic trailer, tube bait or a spinnerbait on 20- to 25-pound test line behind the cables. Hibdon’s most effective cable presentations are pitching and skipping small jigs or tube baits with either heavy or light line depending on the water clarity.

Some docks have cables set high enough to pitch under, which lessens the dangers of losing a fish. “The better you are at skipping, the better off you are going to be in that situation because you will have an advantage over other guys who can’t skip a bait under a cable 4 inches above the water and get that lure back where they need it,” Brauer advises.

When they have to present their lures over the cables, both pros take precautions to prevent a hooked bass from sawing their lines on the steel. “If you have heavy enough line you can get the fish over the cable on the hookset,” Brauer suggests.

“Once you get their head up don’t let them go back under the water because your best shot of getting it out is on the initial pull. Once it gets back under the water the fish has a lot better chance of wedging or wrapping itself on the cables and getting off.”

Planning ahead works best for Hibdon when throwing 8- to 10-pound test line behind the cables. “You have to think you are going to get bit and have your game plan mapped out before you set the hook,” he warns. “A lot of the time I won’t set the hook too hard on a fish , I’ll just pull on him and try not to get it too excited until I get close enough to where I can control the fish over the cable.”

Frequent line checks are required when presenting lures near cables. “Even if you just lift up a bait against a cable you have a little bit of wear and tear on it,” warns Brauer “As soon as I find a ding mark I usually retie because you need all the line you can get when you get a fish on back there. ”

Hibdon is especially vigilant when using light line. “If you are skipping and you whack the cable real hard you need to check your line because it doesn’t take much to turn 8- and 10-pound line into 6- and 4-pound line.”

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

Copies of John Neporadny’s book, “THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Guide” are available by calling 573/365-4296 or visiting the web site www.jnoutdoors.com.

Reprinted with permission from Bassmaster Magazine.

Lake of the Ozarks is fishing jewel

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 maximum depth of the lake is around 100 feet.

Summer pool elevation for the lake is 660 feet above sea level, but winter draw down usually drops the lake level to around 652 to 654. Siltation causes the upper end of the lake to remain turbid most of the time, while the lower end of the lake contains clear water. The lake bottom consists primarily of rock, gravel and sand, except in some of the coves, creeks and rivers where siltation has taken place.

Situated in the Osage River basin, the Lake of the Ozarks is fed by two major rivers: the Osage and Niangua. Other main tributaries flowing into the reservoir include the Little Niangua River, Linn, Grand Glaize, Gravois and Little Gravois creeks. The lake is also fed by approximately 1,000 springs and the largest, HaHa Tonka Spring, delivers about 48 million gallons of water a day into the Niangua arm. The Osage arm of the lake runs 92 miles from Bagnell Dam to Truman Dam and the overall shoreline length of the lake is more than 1,150 miles.

The lake is conveniently located in central Missouri, about 175 miles from St. Louis and 165 miles from Kansas City. Many amenities for anglers are available at the lake including more than 100 marinas or marina-related services, over 100 restaurants with more than 40 waterfront establishments, along with numerous campgrounds, resorts, hotels and condominiums.

Lake of the Ozarks came into existence through the Great Osage River Project during the Great Depression. Union Electric, now AmerenUE, started construction on the dam on Aug. 6, 1929 and the lake opened to the public on May 30, 1931. At that time, the Lake of the Ozarks was the largest man-made lake in the world.

Although it has lost its distinction as the largest impoundment in the world, Lake of the Ozarks remains the largest private reservoir in the state and a top destination for anglers throughout the Midwest.

At first glance, the lake resembles a pleasure boating paradise more than a productive fishery. Sprawling condominiums and lavish homes blanket the shoreline. Countless docks harbor offshore racing boats, jet skis, runabouts and yachts.

But looks can be deceiving. Under the water’s surface lurk massive populations of game fish, including largemouth and spotted bass, black and white crappie, white bass, hybrid white bass/stripers, bluegill, walleye, and channel, flathead and blue catfish.

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.

Heavy boat traffic on the lake during the summer limits most of the major tournament circuits to holding events on the lake in the spring and fall. One local tournament competitor believes this works to the advantage of out-of-town anglers. “Lake of the Ozarks is unique in the fact that in tournaments it is hard to have a local advantage because of the time of the year events are held here,” claims Roger Fitzpatrick, a two-time Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League All-American qualifier from Eldon, Mo. “Tournaments are usually during times of the year when the fish are shallow to where anyone can catch them. There are usually not held here in July where a guy can catch them 30 feet deep on a hump somewhere. So it’s hard to take advantage of those really good spots on this lake that hold fish in the summertime because there are no major tournaments then.”

The lake also consistently produces some of the best crappie fishing in the state each spring and fall. Limits of keeper-size crappie (9 inches or longer) 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.

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.

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.

Concrete Cover for Lake of the Ozarks Bass

By John Neporadny Jr.

A man-made object protruding from the water ruins the aesthetic value of a shoreline but to Lake of the Ozarks bass it’s a thing of beauty.

Lake of the Ozarks has some form of a concrete slab sitting in its waters and throughout the year these man-made structures provide excellent habitat for fish. While this type of cover is sparse on some waterways, concrete structures on Lake of the Ozarks are abundant enough for anglers to incorporate into their patterns.

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

During his formative years of guiding and competing in tournaments at the Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri pro Chad Brauer, learned how to catch bass from a myriad of concrete cover. Since it’s one of the most developed reservoirs in the country, Lake of the Ozarks contains plenty of man-made structures to harbor bass. “Typically concrete seems to have a good bit of algae growing on it which attracts the whole food chain–plankton, baitfish and then bass,” Brauer advised.

The following is a look at three types of concrete cover Brauer keys on for Lake of the Ozarks bass.

Sea Walls

“A sea wall provides a unique access to real shallow water yet it’s a vertical drop where bass have some vertical structure to get up against,” Brauer said of a bass’ attraction to this concrete cover.

Constructed along the banks to control erosion, these concrete walls attract bass mainly in the spring and fall when the fish migrate to the shallows. In the fall, bass use these concrete walls to trap baitfish while in the spring the fish spawn up against the solid structure.

Key holding areas for bass along sea walls include any corners, juts, ends and wash-outs. “A lot of times you can tell where a washout will be because you can see a pipe or drain coming down from a home,” suggested Brauer. “All that rain water coming down through that pipe is going to wash the gravel out of that area.” The holes are prime spots for locating bedding bass in the spring.

Dock Pilings

“Dock pilings rule,” said Brauer of these concrete walkway supports. “For some reason, they seem to be magnets for spawning fish and also seem to hold fish in the fall again. It’s another good vertical structure that has shallow water around it.” Dock pilings in deeper water also hold bass in the summer and winter.

Located behind docks, concrete walkway pillars become a challenge to fish because of all the obstacles surrounding them. “You have to be pretty much geared up like you would for heavy cover because you’re around dock cables, pieces of metal and a lot brush people put in next to those concrete pillars,” said Brauer.

Boat Ramps

“A lot of people just pass by boat ramps and won’t fish them,” said Brauer. “There are some places where you can almost pull up to boat ramps and run as a pattern if you can find enough of them. It’s something to try in an area that’s getting a lot of fishing pressure because a lot of people will ignore those kind of subtle pieces of cover.”

His home lake contains numerous personal boat ramps, which become ideal spawning sites in the spring. Bass usually nest at the end of the ramps, which extend into depths of 5 to 6 feet.

Wash-out areas created by current draw bass on some ramps. Brauer usually fishes the whole ramp, but he spends most of his time targeting the ends and sides, which attract more bass. “Once you fish several boat ramps you’ll figure out where bass are positioned on that type of structure and you can make it an efficient pattern,” said Brauer.

Concrete structures look unnatural, but this type of bass cover proves that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

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

Copies of John Neporadny’s book, “THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Guide” are
available by calling 573/365-4296 or visiting the web site www.jnoutdoors.com.

Reprinted with permission from BASS Times.

Hair Jigs for Cold Lake of the Ozarks Bass

Hair Jigs for Cold Lake of the Ozarks Bass

By John Neporadny Jr.

During those halcyon days of bass fishing in the 1960s, the bucktail jig and pork split tail eel was one of the deadliest combos for Lake of the Ozarks bass.

Now the bucktail and other animal hair jigs have been replaced by flipping, casting and finesse jigs adorned with silicone or living rubber skirts and various soft plastic chunks, craws and grubs serve as substitutes for the pork eel. Despite being replaced for most bass fishing applications, the venerable hair jig still shines in cold-water situations for FLW star Guido Hibdon on his home lake.

The Lake of the Ozarks pro has tried deer hair in the past, but has found that the best material for his hair jig comes from black bears. A co-angler from West Virginia has stocked up Hibdon with plenty of bear hair, which he ties on a 1/8 – or 3/16-ounce ball or banana-shaped jighead. Hibdon used to attach a pork split tail eel as a trailer for his hair jig, but now he tips the jig with either a black 3-inch Luck “E” Strike Grub or the tail section of a black plastic worm.

The hair jig shines for Hibdon whenever the Lake of the Ozarks is at its coldest point during the winter. “I have thrown it up on the edge of ice and whenever it would fall off and hit the bottom the fish would get it,” recalls Hibdon. “You can fish it in mighty cold water.”

Since his hair jig best mimics a crawfish, Hibdon throws the lure along rocks where bass forage on the crustaceans even in the coldest water. Ledges and bluffs in the 15- to 18-foot range are Hibdon’s favorite places to work the jig, and if he has to fish deeper, he will switch to a different tactic.

While slowly reeling the jig along the bottom, Hibdon tries to keep the lure bumping into the rocks. “I move it 2 or 3 feet and then make a little hop with it,” Hibdon describes. “The majority of the fish will hit it on that hop. I think they are following it around and when you hop that jig it seems like that is when they really get after it.”

Hibdon casts his hair jig on a 6 1/2-foot medium action spinning rod with a fast tip and a spinning reel filled with 8-pound fluorocarbon line.

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.

Lake of the Ozarks Spotted Bass

Lake of the Ozarks Spotted Fever

By John Neporadny Jr.

A slow growth rate and short life expectancy can give any living creature a mean disposition. That’s probably why spotted bass have such mean streaks.

101 Bass Fishing Tips, John Neporadny Jr.

101 Bass Fishing Tips

Since its days are numbered and it always has to compete for food against larger predators, a spotted bass viciously attacks anything that crosses its path. I’ve experienced the jarring strikes of spotted bass numerous times, but the best example of their aggressive nature occurs when they hit a topwater lure. On many occasions, I’ve had what I perceived was a big fish explode on my topwater lure, but when I landed the fish, it was a 14-inch spotted bass. Other times these ferocious fish have attacked my surface plug so hard that they jumped completely over the lure or knocked it out of the water.

This type of action is common to anglers at the Lake of the Ozarks since the spotted bass shares the waters with its largemouth cousin.

In appearance, spotted bass look more like largemouth than smallmouth. Some distinguishing features can help you tell the two species apart. A spotted bass has a rough patch on its tongue, which largemouth lack. The spiny dorsal and soft ray fins of a largemouth bass are nearly separated, while the two sets of fins on the spotted bass are well-connected. Examining the fish’s jaw will also help you identify the bass. The upper jaw of a largemouth extends far beyond the back of its eye, and a spotted bass’ upper jaw stretches to the eye or only a fraction past it.

Crayfish are the principal diet of spotted bass in the rocky areas of the lake. They will also eat the aboundant shad found in the reservoir.

Spotted bass provide plenty of year-round action at the Lake of the Ozarks. “Most of the year, they’re caught right along with largemouth,” says Greg Stoner, MDC fisheries biologist. “From my experience, they will stay active a little longer in the winter than largemouth.”

A higher percentage of spotted bass dwell in the lower ends of the lake’s four major arms where the habitat is more favorable. “Spotted bass tend to relate a little more to chuck rock banks and bluffs,” says Stoner. This type of structure is more abundant in the lower ends, along with a multitude of docks–another favorite dwelling place for spotted bass.

Anglers can catch numerous spotted bass in the 12- to 14-inch range at the lake. Productive lures for catching Lake of the Ozarks spotted bass include jigs and pork frogs, plastic grubs, 4-inch finesse worms, spinnerbaits and topwater lures. Bait-cast or spinning tackle with 6- to 14-pound test line works best for spots on this lake.

The Osage River below Lake of the Ozarks is another prime spot for catching spotted bass. “Every hole is full of them all the way to the Missouri River,” claims Bruce Gier, an Eldon, Mo., angler. Osage River spotted bass prefer deep rocky holes, where they can be taken with crankbaits, spinnerbaits, topwater lures and jigs. The fish range in size from 12 inches up to 4 1/2 pounds, Gier says.

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” and “101 Bass Fishing Tips” are available by calling 573/365-4296 or visiting the web site www.jnoutdoors.com.

Lake of the Ozarks’ Grand Glaize

Lake of the Ozarks’ Grand Glaize Loaded With Keepers

By John Neporadny Jr.

Tournaments keep the Grand Glaize arm of the Lake of the Ozarks well stocked with bass throughout the year.

Nearly every weekend, a bass tournament is held at the Lake of the Ozarks State Park Grand Glaize Public Beach 2 (also known as PB2). The popular access area hosts most of the major tournaments that visit the lake and countless club, buddy and charity events. The constant releasing of fish around the access area keeps the Glaize arm stocked with plenty of keeper bass (15 inches or longer) and some trophy fish. The biggest bass I’ve ever taken from the Lake of the Ozarks was an 8.10-pounder that I caught on a clown-colored Suspending Rattlin’ Rogue on the Glaize arm one Thanksgiving weekend.

Lake Ozark, MO, angler Greg West estimates the average size bass an angler can expect to catch on the Glaize during the winter runs from 2 1/ 2 to 4 pounds. In a fall tournament last year on the Glaize, West and his partner caught a five-fish limit weighing 18 pounds. “It can produce a 16- to 20-pound stringer if you catch it at the right time,” says the tournament competitor.

The Grand Glaize arm runs about 16 miles from its confluence with the Osage arm to the swinging bridges area where the tributary narrows down to a stream. The arm contains several large branches and hollows throughout its length including Watson Hollow, Red Bud Hollow, Brushy Hollow Cove, Anderson Bay, Honey Run Hollow, Brasher Cove and Patterson Hollow. Bass-holding structure on this arm includes creek channel drops and bends, bluffs, humps, long gradual gravel points and gravel flats. The upper end of the Glaize also contains the only lily pad patch in the lake.

“There aren’t as many docks on the Glaize but there are a lot more brush piles,” says West. A large section of the Glaize arm runs through the wooded and undeveloped Lake of the Ozarks State Park, so most of the docks on this arm are confined to the first couple of miles around the Grand Glaize bridge and some spots from the 26- to 30-mile mark. West discloses the key to fishing the undeveloped part of the Glaize is to find the humps, ridges and sunken brush piles.

Starting in December, West relies on one lure to catch bass throughout the winter. He opts for a Chompers twin-tail plastic grub that he attaches to either a 3/8- or 1/ 4- ounce jighead. If it’s a calm warm day he will try the 1/ 4-ounce jig, but on windy days or if the fish have moved into deeper water he switches to the 3/8-ounce model to stay in better contact with his lure. He usually ties his grubs on 8-pound test line although he will upgrade to 10-pound test in murky water.

West’s favorite hues for his Chompers grubs are root beer green flake on sunny days or green pumpkin in overcast weather. He also dips the tails in chartreuse dye.

“When the fish get in the brush piles during the winter months I just drag that thing slowly,” says West of his presentation. With this tactic, West can work an area thoroughly yet still cover a lot of water. The fish will be 20 to 25 feet deep on main lake humps and ridges throughout most of the winter.

During the cold months, West prefers fishing the upper half of the Glaize. “The farther up you go the better, but you have to get into some coves that have deep water,” he recommends. “If they keep dropping the lake too much then you have to keep coming back down lake. His favorite stretch for wintertime fishing is from Anderson Bay to about the 27- or 28-mile mark.

The brown Jewel Eakins’ Pro Model Jig tipped with a Chompers twin-tail grub also produces for West during early winter on the Glaize. When the water turns colder, the other predominant winter pattern is slowly twitching a Suspending Rattlin’ Rogue (silver-and-black, silver-and-blue and clown) over brush piles or along steep rocky banks.

The patterns usually remain stable throughout most of the winter when the fish congregate on the structure. “When the water gets colder in January and February the fish start stacking up and you might fish four rounded points and not get a bite, but then the fifth point will have fish bunched up on it,” says West.

The water color on the Glaize arm usually has more color to it than the other arms of the lake during the winter. “It is a little murky,” describes West. “You can usually see down about 1 foot to 1 1/ 2 feet.”

Since so many bass are released around the PB2 area, the lower end of the Glaize usually receives the heaviest fishing pressure. West notes the pressure diminishes the farther you run up the Glaize.

Other areas of the Lake of the Ozarks probably produce bigger stringers of bass in the winter than the Glaize, but if you want consistent action on a cold day, then try the undeveloped stretch of the Grand Glaize.

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’ Gravois Arm

Lake of the Ozarks’ Gravois Arm Is Clearly A Bass Haven

By John Neporadny Jr.



The 10-mile Gravois arm is one of the oldest developed sections of the Lake of the Ozarks so its shoreline is dotted with boat docks. Whereas other sections have more docks for yachts and off-shore racing boats, the Gravois features more docks owned by fishermen who sink plenty of brush piles to attract bass and crappie.

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 upper end turns murky quickly from rain runoff, but the flow from the creeks also flushes out the dirty water faster than on other arms of the lake. The warmer water from the feeder creeks causes the Gravois to warm quicker than other arms in the spring which makes the Gravois one of the most popular spots to fish for bass in February and March.

The structure on this arm is similar to the North Shore with plenty of deep water on the main channel and long creek coves filled with numerous gravel pockets that are ideal spawning banks for bass. Other attractive structure for fish on this arm includes plenty of main and secondary points, creek channels, bluffs, gravel flats and some old road beds.

Missouri State Highway Patrolman Scott Pauley honed his skills fishing the Gravois arm while a member of the Eldon Bass Club in the early 1990s and relied on this section of the lake to lead the 1999 BASSMASTER Missouri Invitational at Lake of the Ozarks and eventually finish in 10th place.

From December through March, Pauley usually depends on two lures to catch bass on the Gravois arm. He selects a Suspending Rattlin’ Rogue (silver/black/orange or clown color) for suspended bass or a brown Jewel Eakins’ Pro Model Jig tipped with a Jewel Eakins’ Pro Model Craw, Chompers Twin Tail plastic grub or a Bass Pro Shops XPS Single Tail Grub for bottom-hugging bass. When jerking the Rogue, Pauley uses 8-pound test line; he opts for 10-pound test fluorocarbon line for working his jig.

The most productive spots for wintertime bass on the Gravois include main and secondary points and transition banks where the shoreline changes from bluffs to chunk rock and gravel. “The real key to Lake of the Ozarks is the angle of the bank and the types of rocks,” advises Pauley. “Once you figure that out you are on your way to putting a pattern together.” Classic examples of transition banks on the Gravois are spots where the creek channel swings close to a point and the bank changes from bluffs to 45-degree chunk rock shores or from the chunk rock to a flat pea gravel shoreline.

During the winter and early spring, Pauley starts fishing the main lake points and then works his way into the coves until he finds the fish. He rates February and March as the prime months to catch big bass on the Gravois arm, especially after a three-or four-day warming trend. Another prime time to catch trophy bass on the Gravois is from the first week of November until Christmas.

When the water temperature rises into the upper 50s and low 60s in the spring, Pauley switches tactics to catch prespawn bass. “Once the water starts warming it seems like the fish go to plastics right before the spawn and close to the spawn,” says Pauley. He drags a Carolina-rigged plastic lizard or split-shot rigged finesse worm or French Fry worm for bass along the pea gravel banks. His favorite colors for these soft plastics include watermelon or green pumpkin in clear water and dark colors (black-and-blue or black neon) for murky conditions.

When the fish lock onto their nests Pauley relies on a Zoom finesse worm attached to a 1/8-ounce jighead. A tube jig also catches nesting fish in off-colored water. The best spots to find spawning bass are pea gravel cuts or backs of pockets with either steep or flat banks.

During the postspawn stage, Pauley finds fish close to the spawning areas first and as the water temperature continues to warm he follows the migrating fish out to deep structure. The first area bass move to from the spawning banks are flat, rounded secondary points.

A Zara Spook or Cotton Cordell Jointed Red Fin worked on 10- to 12-pound test line produces plenty of exciting topwater action for Pauley during the postspawn. If the fish are reluctant to attack his surface lures, Pauley switches to flipping a magnum tube bait or a 10- to 11-inch plastic worm in blue flake, tequila sunrise or electric blue. He Texas rigs the lures with a 3/0 or 4/0 wide gap worm hook that he ties on 20-pound test line. A 1/ 4-ounce weight works best for Pauley when flipping the shallows but he opts for a 1/ 2-ounce weight when he works his worm at depths of 20 feet or more.

On sunny summer days, Pauley likes to pitch a Texas-rigged magnum tube bait (3/16-ounce Lake Fork Mega Weight and Owner Rig’N Hook on 20-pound test line) to any visible cover. He selects a green pumpkin tube for pitching in clear water and a black/red flake model for murky water.

Night fishing produces the most consistent action on the Gravois during the heat of summer. Pauley opts for a 7- to 10-inch plastic worm in black or dark purple hues that he works through the sunken brush at depths of 15 to 20 feet.

When the shad migrate to the backs of creeks in October and November, Pauley targets the baitfish schools to find bass. “The schools of shad roam on the big flats and are so thick that it seems like you can walk on them sometimes,” he says.

Swimming a white Jewel Eakins’ Pro Model Jig and white Jewel Eakins’ Pro Model Craw produces bass for Pauley in the fall, but his favorite tactic involves a Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap. During the Bassmaster tournament, Pauley caught a hefty limit to take the first-day lead while burning a shad-pattern Rat-L-Trap (green back and pearl sides) on 15-pound test line. On sunny days, bass in the upper ends of the creeks use isolated stumps, tree roots and lay-downs as ambush points so Pauley bangs his lipless crankbait into the cover to trigger a reaction strike.

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.