Tag Archive for Denny Brauer

Lake of the Ozarks’ Bass Pro Tactics

By John Neporadny Jr


Denny Brauer, Guido Hibdon and Dion Hibdon Share Tactics for Lake of the Ozarks

Since Lake of the Ozarks has some of the best bass fishing in the country, it’s only natural that the lake has spawned three of the top professional anglers in the tournament ranks.

Among the most consistent anglers in competitive fishing today are Denny Brauer, Guido Hibdon and Dion Hibdon. Before turning pro, this threesome either guided or fished competitively in smaller tournaments on Lake of the Ozarks. Their busy schedules keep them from fishing their home reservoir much any more, but they do get to sneak in an occasional trip during the summer. When they have the chance to fish at home, they rely on the same trusty summertime patterns that produced bass for them before they became full-time pros.

Let’s find out how these three pros catch largemouth bass from their home waters during the summertime.

Denny Brauer

This former BASS Masters Classic champ from Macks Creek, Mo., has plenty of places to catch bass during the summer at the Lake of the Ozarks because he target docks, which can be found nearly everywhere on his home lake. Since the lake lacks flooded timber or vegetation, docks become summertime homes for most of the bass because the piers provide food and shelter.

During summer, Lake of the Ozarks bass seek brush piles 15 to 30 feet deep around docks. “When the water temperature get 80 degrees and above, that’s when this pattern starts to get good. And the warmer it gets, the better those docks are,” says Brauer.” Some of the best times I’ve had were from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. when it’s just really hot and the sun’s beating down.”

Picking the right type of docks to fish is the key to this pattern. Brauer concentrates on piers along bluff ends, 45-degree banks or any other areas near deep water. Older docks seem to attract more bass because they have more algae buildup that draws in the bluegill, a favorite prey for summertime bass.  An aging dock also potentially has more sunken brush piles and other fish-attracting treasures beneath it. Brauer knows a dock has sunken brush if he sees crappie lights on the pier, chairs sitting close to the lights, rod holders, a fish-cleaning area and a fishing boat in the well.

On sunny, 100-degree days, the bigger bass seek shade by burrowing into the brush near docks. “The fishing really gets good when they’re in the brush piles,” Brauer says. Armed with flipping tackle and 20-pound line, this flipping specialist can work through the heaviest brush and yank out a big fish before it tangles up in the mass of limbs.  Brauer’s choice lure is a 1/2-ounce jig with a rattle and a plastic crawfish trailer. He matches the jig and plastic trailer in hues of pumpkinseed/green flake, chocolate brown or copperhead to imitate bluegill colors.

The pro angler usually positions his boat in front of the dock and pitches his lure parallel to one side of the floating structure.  After letting the lure sink into the brush, Brauer shakes the jig to make it rattle in the cover. If he knows the dock has more brush around it, Brauer will also pitch along the front of the pier and the other side before moving on to the next target.

This pattern works for Brauer on most sections of the lake, except on the Osage arm above the 50-mile mark. Since the pattern depends on deep water, it is less productive in the shallows, of the upper Osage.

Guido Hibdon

Growing up and guiding on the Lake of the Ozarks qualifies this former BASS Masters Classic champ as the ultimate authority on his home waters. The Gravois Mills, Mo., angler favors a pattern targeting virtually untapped fish during the summer on Lake of the Ozarks. Hibdon concentrates on bass suspending 12 to 18 feet deep over depths of 35 to 40 feet along main-lake points near channel swings. “A lot of times the fish will suspend over the channel swings,” Hibdon says. “They are not real easy bass to catch, but if you stay after them and figure out exactly what cast it takes to catch them, then they become very simple fish to catch because no one else is fishing for them.” The veteran angler says this pattern works anywhere he can see at least 2 feet down in the water.

A plastic worm and a deep-diving crankbait are Hibdon’s top choices for catching these suspended bass. He uses a Texas-rigged, 10- to 12-inch plastic worm with a 1/8-ounce sinker and 14-pound test line. His favorite worm hues are black grape and electric blue. A simple retrieve works best. “Just throw it out there and let it fall through the school,” Hibdon advises.

Hibdon steadily retrieves the crankbait on 10-pound test line with a low-speed reel. The light line and low-gear ratio of the reel allows his lure to dive down to the 12- to 15-foot range. The most productive color combination for his crankbait is a black back and chartreuse sides.

Dion Hibdon

The son of Guido Hibdon started guiding on the Lake of the Ozarks before he could even legally drive a car. This BASS Masters Classic champion also targets main lake points in the early summer on his home lake. But when the dog days arrive, he switches to fishing brush piles at night.

His early summer pattern produces best during the week when water is being pulled through Bagnell Dam.  During this time, current sweeps across the main lake points and bass hug the bottom of this structure at depths of 10 to 12 feet. The pattern produces bass in any section of the lake that has clear to stained water.

Hibdon’s nighttime pattern works best in the clear-water areas, usually the lower end of the lake. His favorite nighttime haunts are brush piles 15 feet deep along steep banks near a main lake point. The fish usually stay 6 to 10 feet deep in the cover.

The Stover, Mo., angler chooses an 8- to 10-inch plastic worm rigged Texas-style with a 1/8-ounce sinker when fishing the points in early summer.  He works the worm on 12- to 14- pound test with bait-casting gear and favors dark-colored worms for stained water and transparent shades for clear conditions. His retrieve is similar to the Carolina-rig method of banging the lure into the rocks while dragging it along the bottom.

When fishing brush piles at night, Hibdon resorts to a heavier worm weight (5/16 or 3/8 ounce) and heavier line (17-pound test). “I like for my worm to be in good contact with the brush and work it in and out of the limbs,” Hibdon says of his choice for using a heavier weight. He slowly retrieves the worm in a yo-yo motion as he drags the lure and lets it fall through the limbs.

For information on lodging and other facilities at the Lake of the Ozarks or to receive a free 152-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 website at funlake.com.

Copies of John Neporadny’s book, “THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Guide” is available by calling 573/365-4296 or visiting the web site www.jnoutdoors.com.

Denny Brauer’s Lake of the Ozarks Tips

By John Neporadny Jr.


Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Tips

Bass fishing legend Denny Brauer has competed on numerous waters throughout the country so he knows what makes a good bass fishery.

Lake of the Ozarks is unique because it has a bass population from one end to the other; whereas a lot of others aren’t that way,” says the 1999 Bassmasters Classic champion. “I think it is one of the best jig lakes in the country. You can literally fish a jig 12 months a year because the lake has so much cover with the docks and the brush around the docks.”

During the winter, Brauer targets bluffs and rock slides where he throws a jerkbait or a jig-and-craw. He favors a jerk bait with a blue back and chrome sides on sunny days, a black back/chrome sides model in overcast weather and the clown color in stained water. The former BASS Angler of the Year jerks the lures slowly with 10-pound test line and experiments with his presentation until he figures out how the fish want the lure retrieved. “When that water is down in the 40s I give it three jerks, kill it and let it sit for a little bit, then give it three more jerks,” he describes.

The jig fishing expert also relies on a chameleon craw 1/ 2-ounce Strike King Denny Brauer Design Pro Model Jig tipped with a Strike King Denny Brauer 3X Chunk trailer in the same color. He pitches the jig to the bank on 12- to 17-pound test line and works it out to 18 to 20 feet deep. “I try to definitely make contact all the time with the bottom and make real short hops off the bottom,” he says. His favorite areas for wintertime fishing include the Niangua arm and the lower end of the lake from the mouth of the Gravois to the mouth of the Grand Glaize.

As the water warms in the early spring, Brauer concentrates on the lower and middle sections of the lake to catch bass during the prespawn, which usually reaches its peak in April when the water temperature climbs to 55 degrees. Brauer still uses the jerkbait or jig during the prespawn, but he also throws crawfish-color Strike King Pro Model Series 3 and 4 crankbaits with 12- to 17-pound line. He relies on the heavier line in dirty water and scales down for clear conditions.

“I just go down the chunk rock banks on into the pea gravel banks and the pockets,” says Brauer, who retrieves the lure in a stop-and-go fashion. “I try to keep it on the bottom the whole retrieve or pretty close to it. I’ll stop it now and then even if I don’t hit anything because those cold-water bass like to follow a bait.” The fish will usually be about 4 to 8 feet deep along the rocky banks of the coves and creeks.

Brauer discloses that a mild winter will trigger the bass spawn in April, but a harsh winter delays the spawn until May. He fishes the lower end of the lake some when bass are on the nests, but he prefers the mid-lake area most of the time. The BASS pro looks for small side pockets in the big coves that have fairly flat gravel banks. He also likes certain banks lined with boat docks that are near deep water. The depth of the fish depends on the water clarity but in most cases Brauer finds nesting bass less than 5 feet deep.

When he finds the right spot, Brauer flips a Strike King Denny Brauer’s Pro Model Flip-N-Tube (green pumpkin) Texas-rigged with a 5/16-ounce weight and a Mustad 3/0 or 4/0 hook. He opts for 12- to 15-pound test for flipping the tube and dips the lure’s tail in chartreuse dye if he is fishing stained water.

“If the water is a little stained I am mainly pitching to targets; if the water is fairly clear I will move in and do a little sight fishing, although I prefer not to fish that way,” admits Brauer.

After the spawn, Brauer works a Strike King Spit-N-King topwater lure around docks in the spawning pockets and the secondary points close to the nesting areas. He likes to cover a lot of water during this time so the pro angler retrieves his lure quickly on 12-pound test line. The fish will usually be less than 12 feet deep and will hit the lure whether it’s sunny or cloudy. “You can throw the topwater pretty much all day that time of the year,” says Brauer, who prefers fishing close to home in the mid-lake area during the post spawn.

Main lake docks and some boathouses in coves are Brauer’s favorite summertime targets from Bagnell Dam to the Hurricane Deck Bridge. A pumpkin/green flake 1/ 2-ounce Strike King Denny Brauer Design Pro Model Jig and Strike King Denny Brauer 3X Chunk in the same hue is one of Brauer’s favorite lures for pitching around the docks. “The fish are feeding on bluegill around the docks so that color seems to work the best,” says Brauer. He also uses a Texas-rigged 11-inch plastic worm (pumpkinseed, June bug or electric blue) with a 4/0 Mustad hook and a 1/ 2-ounce worm weight tied on 25-pound line.

Running a Strike King Pro Model Series 6 crankbait along main lake points also produces summertime bass for Brauer. He favors a blue back/white belly or blue back/chartreuse crankbait that he cranks on 12-pound test line.

In the fall (October through the end of November), Brauer runs up the Osage arm where he fishes anywhere from the 50 mile marker up to Truman Dam. He looks for isolated wood and schools of shad on flats along the main channel or back in the creeks.

The legendary angler’s favorite fall lures include a 1/ 2-ounce Strike King Elite buzz bait (white for sunny weather or black for rainy days) and a 1/ 2-ounce white or white-and-chartreuse spinnerbait with willowleaf blades, both of which he throws on 20-pound test line. He also likes to flip jigs and creature baits to the docks and isolated wood cover. A 1/ 2-ounce jig in a Texas craw or black-and-blue color works best if he is fishing the lure along the bottom. If the fish are suspended under docks, Brauer opts for a white 3/8-ounce jig with a white trailer that he swims along the docks with 25-pound test line.

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.