Solving Suspended Lake of the Ozarks Bass Under Docks
Sunny autumn days have positioned Lake of the Ozarks bass in the shady areas of docks on main lake flats Pitching to the shady areas usually produces a bite, but after a few hours of sunshine in the morning, the clouds roll in, the shade lines disappear and the bite slows.
What does Denny Brauer do in this situation on his former home waters?
Instead of pitching to specific dark areas of the dock, Brauer saturates the entire floating structure with his presentations. “The fish are still there but with the cloud cover they could be anywhere in that area,” said the former Bassmaster Classic champ. “What I find in the fall is that it is not about keying on the docks that have the good brush piles like I do in the summertime and late spring. I key on suspended fish. There is so much bait on the surface that those fish don’t want to be down 10 to 15 feet deep in a brush pile. They want to be suspended under the floatation at basically the same level as the forage. So I swim a lot of jigs this time of year.”
Brauer’s choice for swimming around docks to cover water quickly is a white 3/8-ounce Strike King Pro-Model Jig tipped with a white Strike King Denny Brauer Magnum Chunk. “That combination gives you plenty of weight to pitch it with but it is very, very buoyant.”
A buoyant jig-and-chunk combo is crucial to Brauer’s presentation since he tries to swim the jig less than 2 feet under the surface to keep it close to the foam floatation where bass are waiting to ambush baitfish. The Missouri pro positions his boat near the front of the dock and pitches his jig to the back corners inside the boat well and to the outside back edges of the docks. When his jig lands, Brauer immediately engages his bait-cast reel and starts swimming the lure as close as possible to the floatation.
Throughout his retrieve, Brauer keeps his rod at the 9 and 10 o’clock positions, which better prepares him for the quick strikes that occur when bass lash out from the dock. “If you get the rod too high you are going to get in trouble (setting the hook).”
“I’m trying not to just throw it out there and reel it in. I try to make it swim a little erratically on the way in with more or less a pumping action.”
Swimming the jig at various speeds also improves Brauer’s success rate. “I have seen at times when they have wanted it moving fairly fast along the side of a dock.”
Running a spinnerbait close to the dock foam will also trigger strikes, but Brauer believes swimming a jig will tempt more finicky fish. “There are a lot of days that the jig will out-fish the spinnerbait even though you have to move it faster because they don’t want all that flash and vibration. They want something subtle.”
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 B.A.S.S. Times.