Bass can be about anywhere around a Lake of the Ozarks dock in most situations, except when fishing pressure drives them to hard-to-reach places.
A bass’ favorite hideout is usually behind the steel cables of the boathouses. During their formative years of fishing Lake of the Ozarks‘ countless docks, Missouri anglers Chad Brauer and Dion Hibdon discovered how bass flock to this security zone while the majority of anglers shy away from these line-busting obstacle courses.
“Bass get behind those docks and it automatically eliminates a percentage of the fishermen from even coming by the fish,” says Brauer. “They won’t put any effort in to get behind the docks and the cables because they think they are going to get hung up or if they get a fish back there they can’t get it out anyway.”
Both pros have perfected tactics for pulling bass out of these high-risk areas. Brauer favors pitching a 3/8-ounce jig and plastic trailer, tube bait or a spinnerbait on 20- to 25-pound test line behind the cables. Hibdon’s most effective cable presentations are pitching and skipping small jigs or tube baits with either heavy or light line depending on the water clarity.
Some docks have cables set high enough to pitch under, which lessens the dangers of losing a fish. “The better you are at skipping, the better off you are going to be in that situation because you will have an advantage over other guys who can’t skip a bait under a cable 4 inches above the water and get that lure back where they need it,” Brauer advises.
When they have to present their lures over the cables, both pros take precautions to prevent a hooked bass from sawing their lines on the steel. “If you have heavy enough line you can get the fish over the cable on the hookset,” Brauer suggests.
“Once you get their head up don’t let them go back under the water because your best shot of getting it out is on the initial pull. Once it gets back under the water the fish has a lot better chance of wedging or wrapping itself on the cables and getting off.”
Planning ahead works best for Hibdon when throwing 8- to 10-pound test line behind the cables. “You have to think you are going to get bit and have your game plan mapped out before you set the hook,” he warns. “A lot of the time I won’t set the hook too hard on a fish , I’ll just pull on him and try not to get it too excited until I get close enough to where I can control the fish over the cable.”
Frequent line checks are required when presenting lures near cables. “Even if you just lift up a bait against a cable you have a little bit of wear and tear on it,” warns Brauer “As soon as I find a ding mark I usually retie because you need all the line you can get when you get a fish on back there. ”
Hibdon is especially vigilant when using light line. “If you are skipping and you whack the cable real hard you need to check your line because it doesn’t take much to turn 8- and 10-pound line into 6- and 4-pound line.”
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.
Reprinted with permission from Bassmaster Magazine.