Jig Fishing Lake of the Ozarks
Flashy new lures come and go each year, while an old reliable continues to hold a special place in the tackleboxes of both tournament anglers and weekend fishermen at Lake of the Ozarks. Some lure innovations catch more fishermen than they do fish, but veteran anglers know that the trusty jig-and-chunk combination consistently catches bigger bass at the lake, especially during October and November when bass are feeding heavily in preparation for winter.
The jig and its chunk trailer have survived the test of time because of its versatility and big-bass appeal. You can bounce the lure along the bottom, swim it at a certain depth for suspended bass or even skip it across the surface as a topwater bait. One angler who competes in tournaments at the Lake of the Ozarks and frequently catches heavyweight bass on the jig-and-chunk combination is Marty McGuire, owner of Marty’s Marine in Osage Beach, MO. “The jig and frog is probably the number one bait as far as catching big fish and catching numbers of fish year round,” McGuire says.
While many anglers use a jig as a crawfish imitator, McGuire selects the lure for its impersonation of a baitfish. Since he’s keying on bass suspended under boat docks, McGuire wants a lure that best simulates a shad swimming just below the surface. A topwater plug or buzz bait also works in this situation, but the biggest bass seem reluctant to come out from under the security of the dock to hit something on the surface. “That jig is already right in front of their faces,” McGuire says. “All they have to do is dart out and they have it.”
Most of the time, McGuire swims his jig and chunk along main lake docks sitting over deep water. “It really doesn’t seem to matter how deep the water is,” he says. “I have caught fish in 75 feet of water out on the corner of a boat dock and that fish was lying right underneath the dock foam about 6 inches deep.”
Bigger docks that offer plenty of shade attract the most bass. Normally in the fall, the water is clear in the areas McGuire fishes, so he tries to find docks that have the right combination of shade and wind. “You have to do some running because these docks aren’t all piled up together,” McGuire says. “A lot of times I will burn quite a bit of fuel running up and down the lake looking for these docks because the wind doesn’t blow in the same direction on every part of a lake.” When fishing the largest docks, McGuire pitches his jig in the last couple of wells on the windy or shady side of the boat house.
During this time of year bass usually suspend under the dock’s foam and dart straight out to hit the jig and chunk. McGuire says he has never caught any bass coming up on his jig, so he tries to keep the lure as close as possible to the dock’s foam. “Take the jig and pitch it up in the wells on the shady or windy sides and let the jig sink 2 or 3 inches,” McGuire advises. “Then start pumping or reeling it right back underneath the foam. When it gets to the corner of the dock, let it fall and watch the lure because on 90 percent of your strikes you will see the fish come out and hit it.” Most of the time McGuire just steadily cranks the jig and chunk along next to the foam and lets it drop at the corner of the structure before reeling it in for another pitch. This technique allows him to cover a lot of water with a lure normally used for a slower presentation.
A 3/8- to 1/2-ounce flipping-style jig combined with a medium-size chunk has the right buoyancy for McGuire’s swimming technique. He prefers the flipping-style jigs because they are equipped with rattles and larger hooks. A white jig with a white chunk best imitates a shad in the fall. McGuire uses a black-and-blue color combination for his jig and chunk most of the time.
While new-fangled lures come and go, anglers keep finding creative ways to use the old reliable jig and its chunk trailer. And even though big bass at Lake of the Ozarks have seen it countless times, the jig-and-chunk continues to trick them over the years.
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.