Drop Shots for Lake of the Ozarks Bass

Super Sizing Drop Shots for Lake of the Ozarks Bass

By John Neporadny Jr.

Fishing a finesse lure on a drop shot rig has saved the day for many recreational and tournament anglers alike at the Lake of the Ozarks.

Today’s fishing pressure has turned many bass into finicky eaters so Lake of the Ozarks anglers have resorted to downsizing their lures and tackle to coax bites. The drop shot rig has emerged from this trend as one of the most effective ways to present a thin, 3 or 4-inch lure to a passive Lake of the Ozarks bass.

However there are still plenty of times when bass prefer their meals super-sized and a tournament trail pro has discovered the drop shot rig can also effectively deliver a big, bulky dinner to a heavyweight bass. “It’s the same principle behind drop shotting no matter what size bait you are throwing,” says Dion Hibdon, the former Bassmaster Classic and FLW Tour champion from Stover, MO. “It’s giving your bait a totally different look to the fish. It’s a real natural looking presentation.”

The Lake of the Ozarks pro suggests many lures such as jigs or Texas-rigged baits fall head-first whereas a lure on a drop-shot rig tends to remain horizontal. “So much of the food sits level in the water and doesn’t go head down all the time,” discloses Hibdon. “So when fishing gets a little bit off, that is what bluegill and shad are doing–standing upright and not standing on their heads.”

Smaller bass seem to prefer finesse baits in the toughest conditions, but Hibdon believes quality fish still want a big meal. “The older a bass gets and the bigger it gets, it becomes a little bit more of a professional eater,” says the tournament veteran. “What I mean is it knows if it eats a big bluegill it only has to eat once or twice a day and it exerts a whole lot less energy compared to having to eat a dozen small shad.”

When fishing gets tough at Lake of the Ozarks and Hibdon needs a kicker fish, the cast-for-cash angler super sizes his drop shot rig with either a 5- to 6-inch flipping tube, Luck-E-Strike USA Jogger Worm, a 9-inch Luck-E-Strike USA Ringer worm or a 10-inch paddletail worm. He selects a 4/0 or 5/0 wide gap hook for his flipping tube, a 3/0 wide gap hook for his Jogger worm and 4/0 or 5/0 hooks for his 9- and 10-inch plastic worms. Most of the time, Hibdon uses 3/8- or 1/2-ounce weights for his magnum drop shot rig although he opts for 3/4- and 1-ounce versions when punching the lures through weed mats or working the rig in deep water.

A 7- or 7 1/2-foot medium-heavy or heavy rod with a bait-cast reel are Hibdon’s choices for delivering his magnum drop shot. He ties his rig on 17- or 20-pound fluorocarbon line and usually leaves a 1-foot to 18-inch gap between his lure and the drop weight.

Drop-shotting big baits produces best for Hibdon in the summer and fall in waters with visibility of at least 1 to 2 feet. “The fish are more likely to suspend that time of the year,” says Hibdon.

The Missouri pro’s drop shot with the Ringer worm produces bass from brush piles at the Lake of the Ozarks whenever the fish start ignoring his Texas-rigged worm. “If you have caught fish day after day out of those brush tops and the fish stop biting, then slip a drop shot in there,” advises Hibdon, who has caught several fish in the 5- and 6-pound class on the magnum drop shot. “I pull it along real easy, just like a Carolina rig, crawling it along the bottom until I get it to a piece of brush, then I might shake it a little bit.”

Hibdon also tricks bedding bass with a drop shot and magnum tube bait. If a spawning fish ignores his other offerings after four or five casts and the bass isn’t locked on the bed, Hibdon switches to the drop shot. “There is a time during the spawn when the fish suspend above those beds and sometimes if you can lift your lure off the bed in its face it will go ahead and eat it,” he reveals.

When Lake of the Ozarks bass start ignoring your jigs or Texas-rigged plastic worms, try a drop shot rig with a super-sized soft plastic. You’ll be dangling a big meal that a heavyweight bass craves right in its eating zone.

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.

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