Key On Isolated Cover for Lake of the Ozarks bass
Lake of the Ozarks guide Jack Uxa has a simple game plan for anglers to follow during autumn.
Targeting shallow isolated cover is Uxa’s recommendation. “Spend five minutes idling in the back of some no-wake cove because you know there is one big stump or log back there,” he says. “If it is isolated cover a big bass can take ownership of that and the fish can be a like a little bulldog and come up and eat a buzz bait or some other type of reaction bait like a square-bill (crankbait) or you can pitch a jig to it.”
The most productive shallow cover during autumn will be in the upper sections of the Grand Glaize, Linn Creek, Niangua, Little Niangua and the various creeks up the Osage arm. Uxa notes that anglers wanting to fish the lower lake near Alhonna Resort can try Buck and Blue creeks or run up the Gravois arm.
Uxa concentrates on the 20- to 30-mile mark of the Osage arm because that is the area he frequently works through his business, Jack’s Guide Service, at Tan-Tar-A Resort. So he suggests visiting anglers should also try familiar waters. “Go fish the area you know the best that way you can adapt the best,” he advises.
Isolated cover less than 2 feet deep on the flats in the backs of the creeks will hold the best fish. Uxa recommends trolling around to find isolate logs, stumps, docks, sunken boat lifts, small stickups and any stuff your trolling motor knocks into that is below the surface. The most productive cover will be near deeper water. “A lot of the spots are not going to be good,” warns Uxa. “You are going to fail about 90 percent of the time but it only takes one big fish.”
The presence of schools of shad or scattered baitfish will enhance the targeted area. “Baitfish are going to be just about everywhere in October,” says Uxa.
On the initial approach to a piece of shallow cover, anglers should run a buzz bait or fast-moving topwater plug over the target, according to Uxa. Then they should follow up with a jig or another slow-moving lure such as a Texas-rigged Brush Hog or 10-inch plastic worm. Uxa favors a black buzz bait for his surface presentation and pitches a 1/2-ounce jig in a peanut butter and jelly hue with a green pumpkin Berkley Powerbait Chigger Chunk when he wants to probe into the cover. He prefers the heavy jig for a faster fall to trigger reaction strikes.
“How that lure enters the water is really going to be critical,” says Uxa. “A lot of people are going to be making ‘somewhat okay’ casts but you want your cast to enter the water really nice and quiet.” The guide also recommends fishing the entire length of a shallow log and at different angles because a big bass could be holding anywhere on the piece of cover.
One detriment to fishing shallow during October is the dreaded turnover. “Our fall could be different this year,” says Uxa. “Since the water temp was cooler in August, the turnover could be earlier this year—and maybe not as intense.”
The local guide notes that turnover doesn’t occur everywhere on the lake at the same time and the lake is big enough to find areas unaffected by this fall phenomenon. “If you are out there and nothing is going on, somewhere on this lake it is too good to keep it down for too long,” says Uxa. “There is somewhere on this lake where they are going to catch them.”
Anyone coming to the lake for the first time should consider hiring a guide to learn more about the lake. “I will teach you a lot about where to go, where the resorts are or if there are any dangerous areas where you need to idle,” says Uxa. “I can definitely help you out there. If you have never fished docks or humps before, I can help you do that.”
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.