Tag Archive for Fall Bass Fishing

Lake of the Ozarks Suspended Bass

Solving Suspended Lake of the Ozarks Bass Under Docks

By John Neporadny Jr.

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.

The Fall Feeding Frenzy

By Marc Rogers


Fall Bass Fishing

The transition from summer to fall is one of my favorite times to bass fish. Many of the bass are getting ready for the fall feeding frenzy while there are still a few left holding onto the summer patterns. Fishing areas for bass where they are holding to cover and structure are generally over. The thermocline is a thing of the past in the Midwest Region as the lakes begin to turnover.

Bass know that colder times are on the way when the evening temperature cools the water surface. This causes the denser, cooler water to fall into the depths pushing the warmer water to the surface. The baitfish begin to school so thick on the surface of the coves of lakes it appears an angler could walk across them without getting their feet wet. Bass are quick to recognize the baitfish and feed heavily on them. There are many ways to catch bass during this season but the most exciting is with a top-water lure.

On large lakes the fall transition does not occur at the same time throughout the entire body of water.  The upper ends and major tributaries generally start the change to the fall patterns before the lower lake. This is when fishing location can be the difference in an angler having a productive day or a fishless day. Listening to other angles success or failures can cause more problems than help if the success stories do not include the location.

Midwest Fishing Tackle Pro-Staff Member Alton Hunter says “when I am not having much success catching bass in the early fall I change colors or depth. However, slight changes in both are often all that is necessary. Slight changes are much more pronounced in the fall than any other times of the year.”  He refers to changing from a brown/orange to a brown/green crawdad colored crankbait or presenting a lure at four feet instead of seven feet deep.  Alton says a minimal change can make a big difference.

Watching the baitfish movement is often the key to locating bass during the early fall. The bass are preparing for winter and will follow the forage. Finding the schools of baitfish is generally easy because they cruise just under the surface and cause a slight disturbance in the water. While watching for the surface action of the baitfish bass will make it quite clear when they are near and feeding. The water will explode just after the baitfishes begin breaking the surface as the feeding frenzy begins.  There are several ways to catch these feeding bass and shad imitating lures are the best choice.

Pro-Staff Member, Aaron Hunter, relies on the Zoom Super Fluke for most of his shad imitating presentations. He says, “The fluke is my favorite because it is so versatile. I can work it on or just below the surface as well as all the way to the bottom.”  He reported he has tried swim baits but still relies on the fluke when others use swim baits. Aaron agreed, top-water lures are the most exciting to use because of the violent strikes but many times the sub-surface presentations produce the bigger bass.  He likes to cast a lip-less crankbait into the school of surface feeding bass and let it fall. He said “I have found many times the bigger bass are below the schools waiting for the falling wounded baitfish. I let the lure fall about five feet below the surface and start cranking with a lift and fall presentation.”

When trying to put a limit in the live well to cull from I prefer a top-water presentation. My first choice is the Rebel Pop-R followed by the Storm Chug Bug. The Pop-R is a great popper and the Chug Bug gives the popping sound with the ability to slide the lure back and forth similar to a Zara Spook. Once a limit is caught I start with a wide wobble crankbait like the Storm Wiggle Wart. I can cover a lot of water with a crankbait and it is quite effective for fall bass when they are chasing baitfish. Large bass can be taken on top-water lures but generally the schooling fish are just solid legal bass and the bigger ones do not reside in these schools.

The bass are quite aggressive during the fall and will not hesitate to chase fast moving lures. However, if the aggressive bite is not working it pays to slow down and present jigs on secondary points where they may still be waiting to make the fall migration in search of baitfish. Aaron said “I always have a jig tied on a rod every time I am on the water. The jig is still my go to lure for a big bass anytime of the year. I start out swimming it just off the bottom and only drag it on the bottom if the slower presentation is necessary.”

Fall is a great time to experiment and allow the bass to tell you what is the best presentation is.  Top-water lures are the most exciting but will not always produce the biggest bass. Also, not all of the bass are making the fall transition at the same time. The main lake is usually the last area where this change takes place but keep you eyes open in search of the schools of baitfish for some hot top-water action.

Choosing Lures For Lake of the Ozarks’ Fall Bass Fishing

By John Neporadny Jr.

Selecting lures can be tough sometimes, but the decision becomes easier in the fall at Lake of the Ozarks if you pay attention to a bass’ autumn diet.

Since shad become a favorite meal for bass then, any lure that imitates this baitfish will produce for you. Crankbaits, spinnerbaits and jigs are three of the top fall lure choices for catching bass from this reservoir.

If the wind is blowing, burn a spinnerbait along bluff ledges and main lake points. The size of spinnerbait depends on the type of cover you target. If you’re concentrating on shallow cover, try a 1/4-ounce spinnerbait with a single number 5 or 6 chrome Colorado blade. When keying on main lake structure in windy conditions, switch to a 3/4- to 1-ounce spinnerbait with tandem willowleaf blades (numbers 5 and 7). Combine chrome and gold blades for clear water-cloudy day conditions, and select a copper-and-gold blade combination for dirty water situations. Favorite spinnerbait skirt colors of the local anglers are white and white-and-chartreuse.

The single spin works best when burning the lure up to the cover then stopping it. Use a fast, steady retrieve on the larger model and you can also catch fish early on calm mornings by waking the blade bait across the surface.

When the fishing gets tough and bass hold tight to cover, try the crankbait around any wood or brush piles you can find in the backs of shallow pockets or along shallow flats. Although the lure works best in wind, a crankbait also produces when the lake has a slick surface.

A shad-pattern, shallow-running, Mann’s 1-Minus or a Bagley’s B-I in shad colors are good lures for the fall at Lake of the Ozarks. If the water is off-colored, switch to a black-and-chartreuse crankbait.

Vary the speed of your crankbait retrieve, but always makes sure to bang the lure into cover. If the fish are really holding tight to the cover, burn the lure and bang it right into the cover. Sometimes you might have to run the lure three or four times along side a log to trigger a strike.

When bass suspend under docks at the Lake of the Ozarks, swim a jig along the foam. This technique produces because you can drop the lure to spots in a dock well that are unreachable with other baits. While a jig is often used for sluggish bass in cold-front situations, the lure in this situation is used for active bass hiding in the shady areas of the docks.

To detect the subtle strikes that usually occur when swimming a jig, use a heavier lure (1/2 to 3/4 ounces). A white jig with a white Gene Larew Salt Craw or a black-and-chartreuse model with a plastic chunk in the same colors work well for this tactic.

Throughout the fall, a variety of lures will catch bass, but you can simplify your lure choices at the Lake of the Ozarks by trying a spinnerbait, crankbait or jig as a shad imitator.

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

Lake of the Ozarks’ November Bass

by John Neporadny Jr.

The roar of off-shore racing boats and buzz of jet skis have been replaced by the tranquil sounds of the fall wind rustling through the wooded hills and the creaking of docks swaying in the waves.  By late fall the tourists have deserted the Lake of the Ozarks, one of the busiest recreational traffic lakes in the country, leaving plenty of vacant water filled with feeding bass.

November becomes an ideal time to catch bass on this central Missouri reservoir, because the fish move into the shallows on feeding forays in preparation for  winter. Recreational boating activity diminishes and even the ranks of anglers decreases when several turn their attention to  the state’s  deer hunting season, which usually falls in the middle of the month.

Built during the Great Depression, this 58,000-acre reservoir was the largest man-made lake in the world when it opened May 30, 1931. Developers squandered potential bass cover when they removed most of the timber before filing in the lake. But over the years, resort and property owners have replenished these vital bass attractors by sinking brush piles near their docks. The lake also contains numerous bass-holding structure such as creek and river channel bends, bluffs and points. Bass can be taken throughout the year in the sunken brush piles, but sometimes chunk rock banks produce better than the man-made cover.

The well-known vacation spot also has a reputation as one of Missouri’s top bass fishing waters. “Lake of the Ozarks is right up there with the best of them,” says Greg Stoner, fisheries management biologist for the Missouri Department of Conservation.

The lake’s black bass population consists of mostly largemouth and spotted bass and a handful of smallmouths. Spotted bass prefer the steeper chunk rock banks and bluffs in the lower end of the lake where they make up 30 to 50 percent of the bass population. The upper end of the lake contains a larger percentage of largemouth bass, which favor this section’s shallower coves filled with brush piles.

One angler who takes advantage of the November solitude on Lake of the Ozarks is Marty McGuire, a Camdenton, Mo., angler. Diminished boat traffic and cooling water temperatures draw bass to the shallows during this time. In the fall, bass can be found along drop-offs or in the backs of coves. By November, McGuire intercepts bass along steep rocky banks and bluffs as the fish start moving back to their wintertime haunts along the main channel.  “This lake’s so big and has so much water that a lot of times there isn’t one exact pattern though,” McGuire says.  “Some guys will catch them out on the main channel and some will still catch them in the back of coves.”

The weather plays the lead role in catching Lake of the Ozarks bass throughout November.  “The worse the weather is, the better the fish bite,” McGuire says.  “It doesn’t hurt to have that first snowstorm hit in October. I’ve caught fish when it was 10 degrees out and the water temperature was in the 40s.”

Water temperatures for most of the month fluctuates from the low to mid 50s, and fall rains turn the water color dingy, which tends to bring even the wary, bigger fish into the shallows to feed on shad.  “The fish are fat and healthy this time of year,” McGuire says. “You catch a lot of 15-inch keeper fish, but you should be able to catch lots of 3-pound fish as well. I also see a lot of 5- and 6-pound bass
caught then. ”

The best areas for McGuire in the late fall include the Osage and Grand Glaize arms and the lower end of the lake near the dam. He prefers these areas because they offer plenty of deep-water structure and docks, two keys to locating bass during this time of year.

Spinnerbaits in the 1/2- to 1-ounce sizes lure plenty of bass in November. Other productive lures include crankbaits and jigs and chunks. “Anything that imitates a shad will work,” McGuire says. “Most of the time a spinnerbait or jig works best around boat docks.”

A variety of patterns work since the fish can be found at different depths during this time.  Bass cruising the shallows can be taken around docks on spinnerbaits and shallow-running crankbaits.  Along their migration route to deeper water, some bass stop along docks that sit over water as deep as 60 feet. These fish suspend under the dock’s foam where McGuire catches them by retrieving a spinnerbait or swimming a jig and trailer along the side of the dock. Suspending bass also hang less than 10 feet deep over depths of 30 to 50 feet along the bluff lines. The best techniques for these fish are running a spinnerbait barely out of sight or slowly retrieving a deep-diving shad-pattern crankbait.

While the pleasure boaters hibernate, anglers can discover the late fall/early winter bass action that makes Lake of the Ozarks more than just a summer vacation hot spot.

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.

Gravois Creeks Turn On In Late Fall

By John Neporadny Jr.

The Gravois arm of the Lake of the Ozarks has plenty of options for bass anglers, but its creeks offer the best action in the fall.

“The back ends of all the major feeder creeks—Gravois, Little Gravois, Indian Creek, Soap Creek and Mill Creek–really load up with shad in the late fall and when the shad move shallow the bass come in with them,” says Scott Pauley, a tournament angler formerly from Eldon, MO.

The Gravois arm is a microcosm of the entire lake with clear, deep water on the lower end and shallow, dirty waters up the various tributary arms. Pauley believes this arm is a good area to pre-fish for a tournament if you have never been on the lake before because it allows you to try several different patterns without having to make long runs. “Within 10 miles you have deep, clear water, bluff banks, channel swings, pea gravel, and chunk rock and in the upper end are shallow flats with wood cover, so you can try a whole bunch of different things in a short amount of time and then expand it from there,” he advises.

When he finds shad in the creeks during November, Pauley searches for bass with a 1/2-ounce Rat-L-Trap in a Silverado hue. “That is a hard color to find but it really matches the coloration of the shad there,” describes Pauley. He burns the lure on 15-pound test line and tries to bump it into cover to trigger a reaction strike.

This tactic produces best for Pauley on sunny days when bass cling to the shady spots of root wads and the sides of logs. He relied on this pattern to take the lead the first day of the 1999 BASSMASTER Missouri Invitational at the Lake of the Ozarks in which he eventually finished 10th.

Pauley notices the fish stack up in the wood cover on sunny days less than 4 feet deep in the stained waters of the upper ends of the creeks. He can catch some fish on buzz baits and spinnerbaits then, but banging the Rat-L-Trap into the wood cover can produce a quick limit. “If we keep getting those warm, sunny days I can go up there and catch a limit in an hour if it is right,” claims Pauley.

The creek pattern produces mostly largemouth bass in the 2 1/2- to 3 1/2-pound range. “Sometimes you’ll catch a   5- or 6-pounder,” Pauley suggests.

The Missouri angler has to change tactics when a typical fall cold front passes through and the weather turns cloudy, then cold and sunny. “Those fish will roam too much out away from the cover (on overcast days) so you can’t always pinpoint where they are,” warns Pauley.

On calm, cloudy days, Pauley favors waking a spinnerbait along the corners of docks and along secondary points. “Just try to cover a lot of water with it,” he says.  His favorite spinnerbait is a Jewel lavender shad 1/2-ounce model with two small willowleaf blades, which he retrieves in an erratic fashion on 12- or 15-pound line. If the day is windy, Pauley slows down his retrieve to run the lure under the choppy surface.

After the front passes and the fish ignore fast-moving lures, Pauley resorts to a tube bait or jig to catch these sluggish bass. He pitches his lures to the corners of shallow docks along the flats of the creeks.

Pauley prefers to pitch a Texas-rigged Southern Pro Lures Fat Butt Tube (black neon in dirty water and green pumpkin in clear conditions) with a 3/16-ounce Lake Fork Tackle MegaWeight and 4/0 Owner Rig’N Hook tied on 20-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon line. When fishing clear water and sparse cover, Pauley opts for a brown Jewel Eakins’ Pro Model Jig with a green pumpkin Jewel Eakins’ Pro Model Craw attached to 15-pound test line.  If the water is dirty and he is targeting heavy cover, Pauley switches to a black-and-blue Jewel Eakins’ Finesse Flip ‘n Jig and the Jewel Eakins’ Pro Model Craw or a Jewel Prowler Pro Craw Chunk that he ties on 20-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon line.

The patterns remain consistent throughout November and early December unless a heavy dosage of cold fronts keeps hitting the area. “As long as those shad are there and active the bass will be there and key on the baitfish,” says Pauley. “If the shad leave that area because it gets too cold for them then the bass are going to go with them and you’ll have to start fishing points and stuff.” Wind-blown points are good then and any docks where wind is crashing in holds fish that suspend under the dock foam.

Fishing pressure drops off considerably during November as many anglers turn their attention to hunting and football. The lack of pressure helps Pauley’s pattern because the backs of the creeks can only sustain so many boats at one time. “The good thing is some of of those flats are huge and the fish only seem to be in a couple of places in there,” says Pauley. “So there may be some boats that come by and will fish the banks or docks, but I fish right out in the middle of those flats looking for those isolated pieces of wood. Any kind of wood is something they can relate to (even if it is a pencil-thin stickup).”

When deer season rolls around at the Lake of the Ozarks, try the Gravois arm to get in on some late fall action for shallow-water bass.

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 at www.jnoutdoors.com .

Catching Lake of the Ozarks Bass During the Fall Turnover

by John Neporadny Jr.

Unsuccessful autumn bass fishing elicits a common lament from hard-luck anglers at the Lake of the Ozarks. Whether they’re tournament veterans or weekend warriors, they blame the lake turnover for their unlucky days on the water.

During the summer, surface water is warm and light, while the lower layers are cooler and heavier. The top and bottom layers contain less oxygen than the middle section, so the fish tend to hold in the oxygen-rich middle.

In autumn, the surface water cools and sinks, mixing with the lower layers. The process causes currents, which mix the sinking surface water and the colder layers below. Wave action from fall winds result in the circulation of the various layers (turnover) and the mixing of the whole lake. By late fall the water has cooled off to 39 degrees from top to bottom. The change causes a good supply of oxygen at all levels of the lake, and the fish will tend to spread out and seek new habitat.

Professional anglers Guido Hibdon and Denny Brauer are unsure what happens to bass during the turnover on their home lake, but they agree that the fish are affected. “I think it almost affects them like a cold front situation; it disorients them a little bit about what they’re wanting to do,” Brauer says.

“I think they’re a little bit goofy about that time,” says Hibdon.

Before the turnover, fishing tends to improve with the cooling water conditions. During and after the turnover, however, fishing tapers off.

Hibdon and Brauer, both former BASS Masters Classic champions, agree that the average fisherman can use the turnover as a good excuse for a poor fishing trip, but they don’t have to.

“At times, it’s probably the No. 1 reason people don’t catch fish for a certain period of time,” Brauer says. “It’s not that they’re doing a whole lot wrong, it’s just that the fish aren’t biting very well at all. If they haven’t made adjustments, they’re not going to catch them.”

If anglers can make the proper adjustments, though, bass can be caught. “I think it’s always been a big myth that you couldn’t catch fish during a turnover,” Hibdon says. “It makes them tougher to catch and makes them hit differently, but you can still catch them.”

Hibdon cites his first pro tournament as an example of how fish can be taken while the water is changing. During the two-day tourney, Hibdon and his amateur partners concentrated on the upper end of the Lake of the Ozarks, which was turning over at the time. Hibdon found suspended fish in the upper end and hit the jackpot. He won the tournament by a 20-pound margin, and his partners finished first and second in the amateur division.

If an angler  feels uncomfortable fishing in turnover conditions, he has some options. “The majority of the time I try to avoid the turnover,” Brauer says. “You can pull into one cove and it can be turning over, and you can run three or four miles down the lake and you do not have the turnover problem. Even if you’re locked into one cove, there’s going to be certain areas in that cove that the turnover isn’t going to affect as much.”

The back half of a cove will turn quicker, or it might be unaffected by the turnover if a creek is flowing into it. “If you’ve got good current, more than likely you’re not going to have turnover,” Brauer says. “Current is absolutely great for avoiding the turnover.”

Anglers can merely glance at the water to tell whether or not they’re fishing the dreaded condition. The affected area almost looks like sewer water with decaying material releasing from the bottom and floating to the top.

Hibdon says turnover water will have a different color (usually pea green) and “foamy stuff” from the rocks will be floating on the surface. “You can follow that right down the lake and get ahead of it and generally catch more fish than you would fishing right in the middle of it.”

The affected area will look like a watery graveyard–devoid of fish and fowl. “The area just seems dead,” Brauer says. “If you can find an area that’s got the water birds and shad, it’s a good indication that it hasn’t turned over yet.”

The length of time the turnover affects fishing at Lake of the Ozarks varies. “It can knock fish for a loop for two to three weeks,” Brauer says. “A real protected area can be real messed up for quite a while.”  Severe cold weather, wind and current accelerate the turnover. Hibdon estimates that the turnover will normally run its course in five or six days on impoundments without fast-moving water.

While fishing in the turnover, try to find the most stable water, which is usually in the 1- to 2-foot range. “That little layer of water hasn’t really changed a whole lot,” Brauer says. “My advice is to get to the bank and beat the shoreline.”  He concentrates on the shallow brush, which usually holds more active fish. “If the weather conditions have been bad, I’m going to get in tight to whatever cover I can find, whether it’s a shallow boat dock or lay-down tree.”

The turbid water caused by the turnover can actually work to the fisherman’s advantage in this situation. Limited visibility prevents bass from detecting anglers working closer to the bank.

Brauer avoids fishing weeds during the turnover. He says weeds start to die when a lake turns, and they will use oxygen. When the dying weeds deplete the oxygen in the area, the bass will seek other sanctuaries.

Once the pros find the active fish, they determine which lures and retrieves will work best. “As a rule, just slow down,” Hibdon advises.

Sometimes it takes 10 to 12 casts to the same brush pile before a bass will strike. Hibdon suggests fishing smaller baits, such as 1/8- or 1/4-ounce crankbaits and jigs. He also recommends using tube jigs.

Brauer’s lure choices depend on the weather. If the weather is stable, he will throw a 3/8-ounce chartreuse or white buzz bait and retrieve it slowly around stumps and lay-downs. In an area that receives heavy fishing pressure, he will switch to a 3/8-ounce buzz bait with a clacker because it produces more noise to agitate the fish.

“If you’re getting a few strikes on something or not a lot, or if you’re missing some fish, or if the fish aren’t really taking the bait, then you need to experiment with sound, size or color. If you’ve got two guys in the boat, one guy should be throwing something different than the other,” Brauer says.

When the weather turns nasty, Brauer switches to a blue or black 3/8-ounce Strike King jig and a black plastic chunk in clearer water, or a black-and-chartreuse or black with bright green combination in murkier water. He will flip the jig into the heaviest cover he can find.

His third option is to cast a 3/8-ounce chartreuse or white spinnerbait with gold blades and a 4-inch  plastic trailer. He’ll slow roll the spinnerbait through the shallow cover.

When the turnover ends, don’t expect a fishing bonanza. Both pro anglers agree that fishing improves gradually after the turn. “I don’t think anyone can say, ‘Bang, the turnover’s over,'” Brauer says.

Whether the lake is just starting to turn or has already turned over, the two pros believe bass can still be caught. “I’m convinced that fish can be caught under any circumstances,” Brauer says. “There’s no such thing as a fish that cannot be caught. On some of them,you just run out of time.”

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 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.

Falling For Lake of the Ozarks Bass

By John Neporadny Jr.

The autumn  spectacle of leaves turning the landscape into a blend of gold, red and orange hues attracts droves of sightseers to the Ozark hills. This colorful display also signals a prime time for bass fishing on Lake of the Ozarks.

The shorter days and cooler nights of fall cuts down on the food-making process for trees which causes the leaves to turn colors.  A different reaction occurs in the Lake of the Ozarks waters though as fall’s cooler weather triggers bass into feeding heavily in preparation for winter.

Fall is one of my favorite fishing seasons since the cooler temperatures provide a relief from the scorching heat of summer and the leaves changing colors adds an extra touch of scenic beauty to the lake. Fishing pressure also diminishes in the fall as some anglers turn their attention to hunting.

The action can get fast and furious when you find bass feeding in the fall. In September, bass continue to hold in the man-made brush piles along the main lake structure of this massive central Missouri reservoir If the water temperature is still hot, then  stay with a big (10-inch) plastic worm. The fish usually hold in the brush piles from 8 to 20 feet deep.  Work the worm as slow as possible through the cover for the best results.

As the water continues to cool, bass start migrating into the shallows of coves. Search for fish in shallow wood cover or along docks with sunken brush piles.

Bass usually suspend over the brush during October, so try a square-bill crankbait that produces a wide wobble and dives down to only 6 feet. Retrieve the lure at a slow pace and try to bump it into the wood. Other lures that produce when bass are feeding in the coves include topwater lures and spinnerbaits.

In the late fall, bass move back to the main lake  chunk-rock points where they stage before moving to their deep-water winter haunts. A good  lure in November is a deep-diving crankbait retrieved at a medium speed  which allows it to run at depths of 12 to 14 feet.

The lower end of the lake offers the most consistent fishing in the fall. The upper Osage produces some good action during autumn as well.  If Truman Dam is dumping water the Osage  river arm is good but if there is no flow  the upper end becomes dead water. and it’s hard to catch any fish. You might go up there and catch one or two big fish but at the same time a guy fishing down lake will catch a limit.

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.

Lake of the Ozarks Docks Are Bass Magnets In the Fall

By John Neporadny Jr


Lake of the Ozarks Dock Fishing with Chad Brauer

As massive schools of shad surround them, black bass build up an insatiable appetite in the fall at the Lake of the Ozarks.

During October and November, bass gorge on these baitfish even after they’ve filled their bellies. While some smaller bass feed by chasing and busting through the schools of  shad, bigger bass tends to lurk under the cover of boat docks and pounces on any baitfish that enters its ambush zone. When weather conditions are ideal, you can catch plenty of bass on a variety of lures as they  chase schools of baitfish, but the most consistent way to catch bass in the fall is to target boat docks.

A local expert who targets docks for consistent fall bass action is Chad Brauer, Osage Beach, Mo., a touring pro angler, former guide on the Lake of the Ozarks and son of famed professional angler Denny Brauer.

Since the lake contains a multitude of boat houses, Chad Brauer keys on certain types of docks that hold bass better in the fall. “I like a dock with white Styrofoam underneath because of all the types of foam, it seems to draw the best algae, which attracts  invertebrates and those invertebrates bring in the baitfish,” says Brauer. He looks for older docks that have several posts or piers under the walkway and possibly some brush sunk underneath the floating structure.

Location also plays a key role in selecting which docks to try in the fall. Brauer opts for main-lake piers, which he believes many anglers overlook as they head for the coves in the fall. He tries main-lake docks on the flats where the front ends of the floating cover sit over depths of 10 feet or less

Weather and water temperature determines where fish will be positioned on a dock during autumn. Lake of the Ozarks  bass remain in the brush under the docks during the summer. As the water cools in the fall, bass start suspending under the dock’s foam. “Rather than moving up towards the bank, they just more right up underneath the docks,” Brauer says. The foam becomes perfect cover for bass as they wait for schools of shad to swim by the docks. Later in the fall, bass move into the shallows behind the docks where Brauer catches them around the walkway  posts.

The dropping water temperature eventually triggers the lake turnover, which can make fishing tough around any type of cover.  “I think the fish tend to scatter more and that makes them harder to catch,” says Brauer. “The fish will still be around the docks, but something happens to them and makes them goofy.”  He believes shallow docks produce best during this phenomenon since they have less of a depth range for bass to scatter than docks in deeper water.

Weather fronts also cause the bass to relocate  on a dock throughout the fall. Brauer notices bass move to deeper parts of the dock when a cold front passes through. If the weather turns warm again, the fish migrate back to the shallow end.  “You have to experiment every time you go out  because sometimes inexplicably they move to the other end of the dock and sometimes they are scattered out all over,” he says.

Bass also tend to position differently on windy or calm days.  When the wind blows, Brauer targets the side where waves crash into the docks and push baitfish toward the foam.

Since bass frequently change  hiding spots almost daily, Brauer covers all the sections of the floating cover  until he discovers which sections are holding fish that day. “I have a lot of success right on the very end and right in the very back (the corners) of the docks,” he says.

When bass suspend under the foam Brauer selects lures that stay in the fish’s strike zone longer. His favorite fall dock techniques include running a spinnerbait just below the surface or swimming a slow-falling jig and pork chunk next to the foam.

The swimming jig technique requires matching a jig with a pork chunk or plastic trailer buoyant enough to slow the  lure’s descent. Brauer usually starts with a 3/8-ounce jig and later switches to a 1/2-ounce model if he wants a lure with a larger profile. To give the jigs more buoyancy, Brauer attaches either a  pork chunk or a  plastic crawfish. Black and blue are his favorite fall colors for the jig-and-craw combination, while an all-white selection works best for his jig and pork. He retrieves both combinations with 20-pound test line, which is heavy enough to give the lures increased buoyancy and abrasion-resistant for fishing over dock cables or underneath walkways.

Swimming the jig requires a faster-than-normal retrieve. “The bigger pork or the bigger plastic craw gives the lure a little more buoyancy and helps it swim right below that foam a little better,” Brauer says. “I use a pumping motion just to cover a little more depth range. Once you narrow down as to how deep the fish are  then you don’t have to pump the lure as much.”  A slow-rolling pump of the jig also gives the lure more action as it swims along the foam. Brauer also runs a spinnerbait about 1 to 2 feet below the surface to coax  bass out from under the docks.

If you can’t  find bass chasing shad on the surface this fall at the Lake of the Ozarks, throw to the docks to save your day on the water.

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 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. 

Catch December Bass Shallow on Lake of the Ozarks

By John Neporadny Jr.


December Bass Fishing at Lake of the Ozarks

The tourists, jet skis and pleasure boaters have vanished. While others join the mobs of Christmas shoppers in the malls, some anglers spend their time catching bass in the shallows of an abnormally quiet, peaceful Lake of the Ozarks.

During December, the lake’s temperature usually ranges in the bass’ comfort zone around 55 degrees, unless the water temperature takes a nose dive due to extremely cold weather. The normal water temperature at the beginning of December is in the mid 50s and will drop into the high to mid 40s by the end of the month.

Bass go on feeding forays in the shallows during this time as the fish try to fatten up for winter. Two factors influence these feeding sprees.  Low pressure weather systems that bring in fronts can shut down the feeding binge until the weather stabilizes again. Another key factor is the lake’s winter drawdown, which usually begins in December and is a definite turn off for the fish.

Water color also plays a role when the fish are feeding shallow. The fishing turns off in muddy water and can also be tough at the other extreme. Bass in clear, shallow water tend to spook, so stained water conditions are the most conducive for bass in the shallows. Under normal conditions, you can find all the fish you want in 10 feet of water or less.

Lake of the Ozarks offers plenty of long, gravel points and flat, shallow banks where the bass can move in to feed on shad during December. Bass will also feed in the backs of pockets and along secondary points in the larger coves. Finding the fish depends on which direction the wind is blowing and where the shad are holding. If you fish a pocket where shad aren’t surfacing, work the shallower side first and then move to the deeper bank.

Shallow stickups and boat docks are bass’ favorite hideouts during December. Savvy anglers favor older docks that have short walkways where the front ends of the floating structures are still in shallow water.

The most productive lures for active fish during December are crankbaits and spinnerbaits. Try shallow-diving models such as the Bomber Model 3A and the Bagley’s Balsa B II. Productive crankbait colors include pearl with an orange throat and Tennessee shad in clearer water and fire tiger in off-colored water.  Retrieve the lures at a medium speed, which keeps the crankbaits running about 4 feet deep.  Some anglers also like to throw a white or white/chartreuse spinnerbait with a single number 7 or 8 Colorado blade. In clear water, use a silver blade and switch to a copper or gold blade in stained water. Retrieving the spinnerbait at a slow, steady pace creates enough blade vibration to entice bass.

If the fish turn sluggish, try flipping or pitching a jig-and-craw into thick cover.  A 3/8- to 1/2-ounce brown jig with a green plastic craw works well. Pitch it up into the cover, jig it up and down a little bit, then swim it out a little before retrieving it and pitching again.

During these December feeding binges in the shallows, you can expect to catch some of the biggest bass of the year, including several fish in the 4- to 6-pound class.

This shallow-water activity will continue in January and February if the weather cooperates. Normally, the lake doesn’t start freezing until the end of January or the first of February and if the lake doesn’t freeze over you can catch fish throughout the winter.

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.

Check Out Concrete for Lake of the Ozarks Fall Bass

by John Neporadny Jr.

Lake of the Ozarks Fall Bass Pattern

On highly populated Lake of the Ozarks you will see a lot of manmade forms that are ideal hangouts for bass.

Concrete in various forms, such as bridge pilings, pier walkway supports, boat ramps and seawalls, can be found throughout the Lake of the Ozarks. Besides serving its main purpose for humans, concrete also provides a great feeding place and cover for bass, especially in the fall when bass are chasing baitfish. “I think a lot of people ignore (concrete) and don’t realize its potential,” says Bassmaster Elite Series pro Denny Brauer.

The former Bassmaster Classic champion knows concrete cover has great potential on his home waters of the Lake of the Ozarks with its countless seawalls, boat ramps and dock walkway supports. Brauer notes concrete cover can be a productive big fish pattern in the fall, but anglers can also catch plenty of numbers of bass as well if they scale down to a shaky head tactic. “It can also be a great way to catch a bunch of quality spotted bass,” he says.  “They really like to relate to this pattern.”

Bass relate to concrete since it is an irregular feature in the water and its algae buildup attracts baitfish. “When you have water up against a seawall it offers shade and a break,” says Brauer. “It is also something different. Bass are creatures that relate to change whether it is pea gravel to a chunk rock bank or rock to something smooth like a boat ramp. Something irregular like that might be all it takes to stop a fish and hold it there.”

If a seawall sits in deep enough water, Brauer will position his boat parallel to the cover so he can keep his lure close to the wall throughout his retrieve “A lot of times you can’t do that so you have to 45-degree angle it,” he says. “There is noting wrong with that, you just have to go a little slower. “

While working along a seawall, Brauer looks for something different such as an abutment that might hold more fish. “It might be where you are catching fish on the seawall with a spinnerbait or buzz bait but when you get to a key little feature on it you might want to pick up your flipping stick and pitch your jig at that feature,” he advises.

Old busted-up seawalls attract more bass than smooth new walls. “Anything that has age on it is always better because it has a better buildup of algae that draws more bait in and it also offers more irregularities,” says Brauer.

Bass use boat ramps primarily as feeding areas in the fall. “You are liable to catch fish anywhere on a boat ramp but it seems they like to relate to the edge of the ramp, and the more popular ramps usually have a blowout at the end of them,” says Brauer. “I think those blowout holes are part of the reason the fish relate to them. A lot of people don’t bother to fish those holes because they just don’t fish the ramps out far enough.”

Brauer favors a buzz bait or spinnerbait (1/4- or 3/8-ounce in a sexy shad hue) and a Strike King Series 4S crankbait for running at various speeds along sea walls. “The clearer the water the faster and the dirtier the water the slower,” says Brauer. He begins with this axiom but experiments with retrieve speeds until he figures out which triggers the most strikes.

When he keys on boat ramps, Brauer opts for a 1/2-ounce Strike King Premier Pro-Model Jig with either a Strike King Rage Chunk or Strike King Denny Brauer Chunk trailer. He prefers the lively tail action of the Rage Chunk in the early fall when the water is still warm, but he switches to the more subtle action of the Denny Brauer Chunk when the water temperature drops into the low 60s.

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.