Watch the Flow for Fall Bass
The Lake of the Ozarks is usually low with little flow during October but power generation could still play a role in the fall bass action.
“Ameren brings the lake down about a foot right after Labor Day in anticipation of fall rain and that has an impact on the fish,” says Jeff Green, Ameren Missouri shoreline management supervisor who frequently competes in tournaments on his home waters of Lake of the Ozarks.
Green suggests anglers do some homework the week before fishing by checking the lake’s flow discharge rates on the Ameren web site (www.ameren.com). “Generation would be a positive thing for the fishing,” says Green. “The likelihood of generation is low because that is usually our low-water time and there is usually not a lot of rain.”
A rainy late summer/early fall could cause Ameren to generate in October and create current throughout the lake. “Current is just like a big conveyor belt of food so a big fat bass that is still in hot water it going to go to (a main lake) point to feed if there is heavy generation,” says Green, who suggests anglers should check about five main lake points before trying another pattern.
If generation has been light the week before fishing, Green recommends keying on specific cover such as a larger boulder or brush pile on the point rather than the drop-offs where bass congregate during heavy generation. He notes bass will scatter if generation has been shut off, but the fish will still be holding to some type of cover on the points.
Checking out the weather patterns for the lake the week before a trip to the lake will also help anglers prepare for their time on the water. “If we have had five cloudy days before a trip the fish are probably not going to be glued to brush piles,” says Green. “They are not going to be seeking out cover, there are going to be cruising.”
Cruising the lake should be a priority for anglers, according to Green. “Get a feel for what the water looks like in each of the arms so spend a little boat time and go from the (main lake) point all the way to the back to get a feel for where the shad are because the bass are going to be relating to the shad,” says Green. The Osage Beach angler suggests throwing a deep-diving crankbait to cover a lot of water and key on bass suspended above brush piles.
“The first week of October the fish are in transition,” Green says. “They have been down in their summer haunts of brush piles or points but the water is coming down a little bit and it is at its clearest point. The young- of-the-year shad are usually coming up. So the bass in those deeper brush piles start to suspend which makes them harder to catch.”
Green has planted numerous brush piles in the lake throughout the years and cashes plenty of tournament checks when bass are holding in his fish attractors. The local expert recalls cashing some checks in the annual Big Bass Bash when he and his partner caught some bass in the 5-pound range from his brush piles. “One of my biggest fish in the Big Bass Bash though was on a spinnerbait 3 feet deep in the upper Glaize which had turned dingy due to wind/wave action,” he says.
Green’s favorite lures for working in the brush piles include a green pumpkin 3/4- or 1-ounce jig with a 5-inch Chompers’ twin-tail grub (in green pumpkin or pumpkin candy hues) or a Texas-rigged plum 10-inch Berkley Power Worm with a 1/2-ounce sinker on 20-pound fluorocarbon line. He suggests Texas-rigged plastic craws or hawg-style baits and Senkos rigged on shaky jigheads will also produce in the brush. Matching the young-of-the-year shad with a smaller paddletail worm also triggers strikes from quality bass suspended over the brush.
“All the strategies that time of year have challenges,” says Green. “You are not going to go out and know exactly what the fish are doing because they are doing a lot of things. The morning bite is going to be very important and you need to have a buzz bait tied on one of your rods.” The local angler suggests using a 1/2-ounce buzzer in chartreuse in murky water and white in clearer water. A Zara Spook will also draw bigger fish to the top in the clear water.
Green advises throwing topwaters on the main lake points in the morning. “If you don’t get bit on the points pretty quick, you need to start working your way back where you might find some of those larger bass chasing shad on the flats,” says Green. He recommends targeting docks on the flats since bigger bass use the docks as ambush points.
The lower lake usually yields bigger bass, but Green notes these fish are tougher to catch since many of the fish are suspending over deeper water. “The range of top to bottom is a much bigger area for the fish to suspend in,” warns Green. “One of the better strategies is to narrow that range and start fishing shallow water and you need to do that by fishing up the tributaries.” He recommends targeting shallower bass by trying the logjams and shallow boat docks on the Grand Glaize, Niangua and Gravois arms and the Osage arm from the 50-mile marker to Warsaw.
Docks will be key targets during the fall so Green hopes dock owners and anglers will be considerate of each other. “We have periodic conflicts there,” he admits. “It doesn’t happen very often but it does happen. It is important to recognize that the lake is here for many people to enjoy. We just need to be courteous and safe.”
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.