By John Neporadny Jr.
Selecting lures can be tough sometimes, but the decision becomes easier in the fall at Lake of the Ozarks if you pay attention to a bass’ autumn diet.
Since shad become a favorite meal for bass then, any lure that imitates this baitfish will produce for you. Crankbaits, spinnerbaits and jigs are three of the top fall lure choices for catching bass from this reservoir.
If the wind is blowing, burn a spinnerbait along bluff ledges and main lake points. The size of spinnerbait depends on the type of cover you target. If you’re concentrating on shallow cover, try a 1/4-ounce spinnerbait with a single number 5 or 6 chrome Colorado blade. When keying on main lake structure in windy conditions, switch to a 3/4- to 1-ounce spinnerbait with tandem willowleaf blades (numbers 5 and 7). Combine chrome and gold blades for clear water-cloudy day conditions, and select a copper-and-gold blade combination for dirty water situations. Favorite spinnerbait skirt colors of the local anglers are white and white-and-chartreuse.
The single spin works best when burning the lure up to the cover then stopping it. Use a fast, steady retrieve on the larger model and you can also catch fish early on calm mornings by waking the blade bait across the surface.
When the fishing gets tough and bass hold tight to cover, try the crankbait around any wood or brush piles you can find in the backs of shallow pockets or along shallow flats. Although the lure works best in wind, a crankbait also produces when the lake has a slick surface.
A shad-pattern, shallow-running, Mann’s 1-Minus or a Bagley’s B-I in shad colors are good lures for the fall at Lake of the Ozarks. If the water is off-colored, switch to a black-and-chartreuse crankbait.
Vary the speed of your crankbait retrieve, but always makes sure to bang the lure into cover. If the fish are really holding tight to the cover, burn the lure and bang it right into the cover. Sometimes you might have to run the lure three or four times along side a log to trigger a strike.
When bass suspend under docks at the Lake of the Ozarks, swim a jig along the foam. This technique produces because you can drop the lure to spots in a dock well that are unreachable with other baits. While a jig is often used for sluggish bass in cold-front situations, the lure in this situation is used for active bass hiding in the shady areas of the docks.
To detect the subtle strikes that usually occur when swimming a jig, use a heavier lure (1/2 to 3/4 ounces). A white jig with a white Gene Larew Salt Craw or a black-and-chartreuse model with a plastic chunk in the same colors work well for this tactic.
Throughout the fall, a variety of lures will catch bass, but you can simplify your lure choices at the Lake of the Ozarks by trying a spinnerbait, crankbait or jig as a shad imitator.
For information on lodging and other facilities at the Lake of the Ozarks or to receive a free 162-page 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