By John Neporadny Jr
Catch Fall Bass on Lake of the Ozarks
While the fall weather turns Missouri’s trees into a sea of red, gold and orange, the cooler temperatures also energize bass.
After spending the hot summer slumbering in deep-water haunts, Lake of the Ozarks bass follow baitfish to the shallows during autumn where the cooler water triggers a feeding frenzy. The recurring fall scenes of bass busting through schools of shad makes this season one of the most exciting and frustrating times to pursue bass. The thrill of watching these fish churn the surface climaxes when your topwater lure disappears in a frothy explosion. However that excitement can quickly turn into frustration when you make countless casts to these marauders and the fish continue to ignore your offerings.
The vast waters of my home lake offer anglers a wide variety of areas and patterns to try throughout autumn. After the Labor Day holiday, boat traffic decreases and the bass fishing turns on in the backs of major feeder creeks and the upper ends of the main tributaries. The best areas to try in early fall include the upper sections of the Osage and Niangua Rivers and the backs of feeder creeks, such as the Gravois, Little Gravois, Grand Glaize, Linn, Indian and Soap.
Lay-downs and wood stick-ups are key targets for bass in the shallows of the creek. When largemouth bass are chasing shad in these areas a variety of lures will catch fish, including topwater chuggers such as Rebel Pop-Rs, buzz baits and spinnerbaits. One of my favorite techniques for these active bass is to bump a shallow-running crankbait into the wood cover.
If the weather turns sunny, I key on shallow boat docks where the bass suspend under the floating piers to ambush shad. Running a spinnerbait or twitching a soft jerkbait close to the sides of the dock usually coaxes a bass out of its hiding place. However the best way to trigger dock bass into biting is swimming a jig and plastic or pork trailer along the dock’s foam. I prefer using a 1/4-ounce light-colored jig with a white pork chunk or blue plastic crawfish that I quickly retrieve in a hopping fashion within about 1 to 2 feet of the surface.
The main lake also produces plenty of action for spotted bass in the early fall. Marauding gangs of spotted bass can be seen slashing through schools of baitfish along main lake points and islands. The bets lures for catching these fish include topwater chuggers, 1/4-ounce Rat-L-Traps and 1/4-ounce spinnerbaits. My guide trip clients usually caught plenty of spotted bass when they worked small topwater chuggers next to main-lake boat docks.
Some quality largemouth can be caught in the mornings on chrome-and-black Storm Lures Wiggle Wart crankbaits along main lake points. Later in the day, the bigger fish move into brush piles 10 to 20 feet deep where you can catch them on Texas-rigged 10-inch plastic worms or jigs and pork chunks.
From mid-October through November, the lake level usually starts dropping and bass concentrate on the chunk-rock primary and secondary points. Some of the most productive techniques for catching late fall bass on the points include waking a 1/2- to 3/4-ounce spinnerbait, slowly cranking a buzz bait or working a Heddon Zara Spook with a walk-the-dog retrieve. Swimming a jig along the main lake docks also takes both keeper-size largemouth and spotted bass. If the lake level remains high, then flipping a 3/8-ounce jig and pork chunk along seawalls on secondary points also produces keeper bass.
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 Conventionand 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.