Catching Lake of the Ozarks bass in the rain
Fair-weather fishermen are missing out on some great opportunities to catch Lake of the Ozarks bass if they shy away from donning a rain suit and wetting a line on a rainy day.
Touring pro Casey Scanlon is unsure if it is the dropping barometric pressure or rain breaking up the surface of the water that causes the feeding spree, but he knows for sure that Lake of the Ozarks bass are turned on by rain showers. “The fish usually tend to be more active,” he says. “The only exception would be a really cold rain– almost like a freezing rain– when the water temperature is already cold.”
The Lake of the Ozarks guide guesses it is a combination of factors that cause bass to bite in the rain. “You have the low light conditions all day which kind of makes the fish roam around feeding,” he says. “You have a front coming through which changes the barometric pressure a little bit and breaks up the surface of the water so the fish don’t see the boat as well and they are able to chase baits to the surface a little bit better.”
Rain runoff also activates bass, especially on highland reservoirs where rainwater runs hard down the hillsides. “If you get a substantial rain those fish know what’s going on,” Scanlon says. “They are in a feeding mode and they look towards that running water.”
Scanlon favors using moving baits most of the time for fishing in the rain. “If the water is warm enough I always try a topwater of some sort whether it’s a walking bait or a buzz bait or a Pop R. I love a topwater and burning a Luck E Strike RC2 square bill (crankbait) around shallow banks in the backs of pockets. A spinnerbait can work well especially if you get some stain in the water. Then I will always have a (1/2-ounce Trophy Bass Company) jig on too.”
A topwater lure is still an option for Scanlon even when a downpour roils the water’s surface. “If you get a driving rain sometimes stuff like a (Zara) Spook or some of those subtle baits don’t get the attention of the bass,” Scanlon says. “So in that instance I will throw something like a Pop R or a real noisy topwater like a big buzz bait that makes a little bit more disturbance. I am going to throw a topwater as long as I can until the fish absolutely tell me they don’t want to eat it because it is just fun to throw.”
Cold rains in the late fall and winter tend to drop water temperatures and turn off bass, but a warm rain in the early spring is the prime time for Scanlon to don a rain suit. “That is absolutely what you look for is when you get a warm rain and a lot of it,” he says. “That is the time when you want to target those runoff areas in the backs of creeks and places where it might make a water color change. Another good part about rain is sometimes it can create a mud line or a change in the water color that can really trigger the fish into eating as well.”
A cool rain during the summer is also a great time to throw topwater baits. Scanlon notes bass move off the bottom during a summer rain and start chasing bait, so he likes to throw either a topwater lure or a deep-diving crankbait such as the Luck E Strike Freak to catch those roaming fish. If the rain produces lots of runoff, Scanlon also tempts shallow bass in the backs of creeks with topwater lures and square-bill crankbaits. His favorite areas to fish rain runoff are steeper banks in pockets and small flowing creeks. “I like a medium-size creek with some flow coming into it but I don’t like the bigger creeks with lots of flow like a raging river,” he says.
Fishing in the rain produces lots of numbers of fish and quality bass for Scanlon. “Those big fish are just taking that opportunity to eat then,” he says.
The Bassmaster Open winner relies on Bass Pro Shops 100mph rain gear to keep him dry even in a downpour. He wears a waterproof pair of wading socks and Bass Pro Shops Redhead waterproof boots to keep his feet dry.
For information on lodging and other facilities at the Lake of the Ozarks or to receive a free vacation guide, call the Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-FUN-LAKE or visit the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitors Bureau web site at funlake.com.
For copies of John Neporadny’s THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Guide call 573/365-4296 or visit www.jnoutdoors.com.