Tag Archive for Lake of the Ozarks

Jim Dill predicts another good year for Lake of the Ozarks

Another good year for Lake of the Ozarks bass

By John Neporadny Jr.

Lake of the Ozarks anglers have always been blessed with good bass fishing throughout the years and 2018 should be another banner year for the lake.

Guide Jim Dill expects bass fishing to be average to above average this year at Lake of the Ozarks. “It seems like the weights are going up (at tournaments) and we are seeing bigger fish turned in on (guide) trips,” he said. “I am catching a lot more quality fish.” Two 10-pound largemouth were caught on the Grand Glaize arm of the lake in the spring of 2016. Dill believes the bass are growing bigger because the fish have a lot of forage created by the large shad population in the lake.

When the water temperature starts to warm, bass begin their prespawn migration to the shallows. Bass start feeding heavily during the first warming trend of the month when it causes the water temperature to climb into the 40-degree range. Dill picks 42 degrees as the magic number for drawing big bass to the shallows. “Once we hit 42 there are just as many fish shallow as there is anywhere else,” he said. “The majority of the fish are going to start pushing towards the back ends of creeks looking for warmer water.”

Bottom-bumping baits such as small finesse jigs or a Crock-O-Gator Swamp Bug on a 1/2-ounce jighead tricks prespawn bass into biting. Suspending jerkbaits in a variety of colors and an Alabama rig also produce plenty of quality bass in March.

During early April, Dill throws larger jigs, Wiggle Warts and suspending jerkbaits for bass along the rock transition banks (scattered chunk rock and pea gravel). The spawn usually occurs from middle to late April when the fish nest 6 feet deep or less in the protected pea gravel pockets. A variety of soft plastics will work then and nesting bass will also attack topwater lures such as a Crock-O-Gator HeadKnocker Buzz Bait or Zara Spook.

The local guide suggests fishing the lake’s major creeks for the earliest action since spring rains tend to warm the backs of those creeks first. Dill lists Jennings Branch, Gravois, Bogue, Cedar and Mill creeks as some of the spots on the lower end of the lake where the bass action turns on quicker in the spring.

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.

For copies of John Neporadny’s THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Guide call 573/365-4296 or visit www.jnoutdoors.com.

Lake of the Ozarks’ Grand Glaize

Lake of the Ozarks’ Grand Glaize Loaded With Keepers

By John Neporadny Jr.

Tournaments keep the Grand Glaize arm of the Lake of the Ozarks well stocked with bass throughout the year.

Nearly every weekend, a bass tournament is held at the Lake of the Ozarks State Park Grand Glaize Public Beach 2 (also known as PB2). The popular access area hosts most of the major tournaments that visit the lake and countless club, buddy and charity events. The constant releasing of fish around the access area keeps the Glaize arm stocked with plenty of keeper bass (15 inches or longer) and some trophy fish. The biggest bass I’ve ever taken from the Lake of the Ozarks was an 8.10-pounder that I caught on a clown-colored Suspending Rattlin’ Rogue on the Glaize arm one Thanksgiving weekend.

Lake Ozark, MO, angler Greg West estimates the average size bass an angler can expect to catch on the Glaize during the winter runs from 2 1/ 2 to 4 pounds. In a fall tournament last year on the Glaize, West and his partner caught a five-fish limit weighing 18 pounds. “It can produce a 16- to 20-pound stringer if you catch it at the right time,” says the tournament competitor.

The Grand Glaize arm runs about 16 miles from its confluence with the Osage arm to the swinging bridges area where the tributary narrows down to a stream. The arm contains several large branches and hollows throughout its length including Watson Hollow, Red Bud Hollow, Brushy Hollow Cove, Anderson Bay, Honey Run Hollow, Brasher Cove and Patterson Hollow. Bass-holding structure on this arm includes creek channel drops and bends, bluffs, humps, long gradual gravel points and gravel flats. The upper end of the Glaize also contains the only lily pad patch in the lake.

“There aren’t as many docks on the Glaize but there are a lot more brush piles,” says West. A large section of the Glaize arm runs through the wooded and undeveloped Lake of the Ozarks State Park, so most of the docks on this arm are confined to the first couple of miles around the Grand Glaize bridge and some spots from the 26- to 30-mile mark. West discloses the key to fishing the undeveloped part of the Glaize is to find the humps, ridges and sunken brush piles.

Starting in December, West relies on one lure to catch bass throughout the winter. He opts for a Chompers twin-tail plastic grub that he attaches to either a 3/8- or 1/ 4- ounce jighead. If it’s a calm warm day he will try the 1/ 4-ounce jig, but on windy days or if the fish have moved into deeper water he switches to the 3/8-ounce model to stay in better contact with his lure. He usually ties his grubs on 8-pound test line although he will upgrade to 10-pound test in murky water.

West’s favorite hues for his Chompers grubs are root beer green flake on sunny days or green pumpkin in overcast weather. He also dips the tails in chartreuse dye.

“When the fish get in the brush piles during the winter months I just drag that thing slowly,” says West of his presentation. With this tactic, West can work an area thoroughly yet still cover a lot of water. The fish will be 20 to 25 feet deep on main lake humps and ridges throughout most of the winter.

During the cold months, West prefers fishing the upper half of the Glaize. “The farther up you go the better, but you have to get into some coves that have deep water,” he recommends. “If they keep dropping the lake too much then you have to keep coming back down lake. His favorite stretch for wintertime fishing is from Anderson Bay to about the 27- or 28-mile mark.

The brown Jewel Eakins’ Pro Model Jig tipped with a Chompers twin-tail grub also produces for West during early winter on the Glaize. When the water turns colder, the other predominant winter pattern is slowly twitching a Suspending Rattlin’ Rogue (silver-and-black, silver-and-blue and clown) over brush piles or along steep rocky banks.

The patterns usually remain stable throughout most of the winter when the fish congregate on the structure. “When the water gets colder in January and February the fish start stacking up and you might fish four rounded points and not get a bite, but then the fifth point will have fish bunched up on it,” says West.

The water color on the Glaize arm usually has more color to it than the other arms of the lake during the winter. “It is a little murky,” describes West. “You can usually see down about 1 foot to 1 1/ 2 feet.”

Since so many bass are released around the PB2 area, the lower end of the Glaize usually receives the heaviest fishing pressure. West notes the pressure diminishes the farther you run up the Glaize.

Other areas of the Lake of the Ozarks probably produce bigger stringers of bass in the winter than the Glaize, but if you want consistent action on a cold day, then try the undeveloped stretch of the Grand Glaize.

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.

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.

Shakin’ for Lake of the Ozarks Bass

Shaky Head Bass Fishing Tips

By John Neporadny Jr.

Lake of the Ozarks pros Guido and Dion Hibdon tinkered for a long time with a ballhead jig- and-worm combo and devised a screw lock keeper on the jighead that is now standard equipment on today’s shaky heads.

Round Shaky Head with Screw Lock

Round Shaky Head with Screw Lock

The shaky head concept has been around for y ears, but the popularity of this lure has skyrocketed recently due to the latest innovations in ways to hold the soft plastic on the jig and make it weedless. A shaky head jig combined with a 4-inch finesse worm has become a deadly tactic on Lake of the Ozarks and some anglers are discovering the jighead also works well when combined with other soft plastics.

Dion Hibdon favors this rig because the shaky head makes a worm stand straight up for a more natural presentation than a Texas-rigged worm, which tends to lie flat on the bottom. “It makes it look like a minnow feeding on the bottom,” describes Hibdon.

A plastic craw is also one of Dion Hibdon’s choices to attach to a Luck “E” Strike Finesse Round Jighead. The Missouri pro has occasionally paired the shaky head with a Zoom Brush Hog, but most of the time he sticks with plastic mud bugs such as a Luck “E” Strike 3-inch Guido Bug.

Hibdon favors using the Guido Bug on a shaky head because the craw stands up better than when it’s attached to a conventional skirted jig. He also believes the shaky head craw has a more natural appearance than the standard jig-and-craw combo. “They make these crawfish natural-looking enough now and if you put it on a skirted jig that is just a little too much,” Hibdon advises. His color choice for the shaky head craw is melon pepper, which he describes as a translucent green pumpkin hue. He also gives the craw a more natural look by dying the tips of its pincers chartreuse or orange.

The former world champion employs a different retrieve than most anglers use with the shaky head. He makes sure his craw stands up more by letting his line go slack as the jig sits on the bottom. “I believe in giving all of my lures a little slack line,” he recommends. “A lot of people move their lures way too much.”

After letting it sit on the bottom for awhile, Hibdon will twitch the shaky head craw once or twice and move it with his rod. Then he lets it sit on the bottom for awhile before moving it again. Hibdon will shake the lure constantly when he is fishing for spotted bass. He works his shaky head craw on a 7-foot American Rodsmiths Magnum Spinning Rod (medium/fast action) with a Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris Signature Series spinning reel spooled with 8- to 10-pound line.

The shaky head works best for Hibdon in the clear sections of Lake of the Ozarks, but the touring pro has noted co-anglers fishing behind him have caught fish on this rig in dirty water too. He opts for the shaky head craw any time he wants to target spotted bass. It is especially effective for him in the fall when the fish are hanging around rocks. A shaky head craw also draws more strikes for Hibdon than the conventional jig-and-craw when bass are on the nests. He has noticed nesting bass will ignore the jig-and-craw, but inhale a small craw rigged on a shaky head.

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.

Winter’s Best Bass Fishing at Lake of the Ozarks

By John Neporadny Jr.

Blowing snow stings your face and the wind pierces through gloves to numb your hands. Even though the frigid temperatures turn your rod tip into an ice cube after nearly every cast, you tolerate these inconveniences in anticipation of catching the bass of a lifetime.

While the lakes in the northern half of the state freeze over during the winter, Lake of the Ozarks usually offers an ice-free spot to catch lunker largemouth bass throughout January and February.  Heavyweight bass in this central Missouri reservoir reside along main lake structure and feed on dying shad that succumb to the cold water. A lure resembling the fluttering action of a dying shad, such as a suspending stickbait, works best during this time of year. Fishing pressure will also be minimal since fair-weather fishermen hibernate in their warm homes.

Anglers willing to bear the cold for a chance to catch quality wintertime largemouth should pack the thermal underwear and insulated coveralls and head for the lake.  Try the following tips for catching Lake of the Ozarks bass during winter.

Channel bends in the clear-water stretch from the dam to the 14-mile mark hold schools of big bass during the winter at this reservoir. Any time bass have a channel bend they can move up from the deep water onto a flat and eat shad.

Lake of the Ozarks bass tend to congregate below schools of shad in 12 to 20 feet of water. The shad usually suspend 8 to 12 feet deep and bass hang right below them. The fish usually stay 4 to 5 feet under the baitfish so they can follow the shad school around. Even though bass feed on baitfish during this time, some anglers avoid areas loaded with schools of shad because they believe bass have too much food to choose from there. So these local anglers try channel bends with sparse numbers of baitfish
where they can  work  a weighted stickbait without  much competition from the natural forage.

A 5 1/2-inch medium-diver Rattlin’ Rogue or a Luckycraft Pointer 100 in the clown color produces bass during this time. With four or five turns of the reel handle you can make the stickbait dive down to a depth of 4 to 5 feet. If the lure is properly weighted, it will suspend at the same depth or sink slowly. Let the lure sit for about 20 seconds and then twitch it once or twice.  A word of caution: the more you twitch the lure, the smaller the fish you will catch. Even though the lure usually only dives down about 5 feet, its action imitates a dying shad, which draws bass out of the depths to strike it.

When the weather turns nasty, key on chunk rock points. The worse the weather, the better the fishing so when the wind blows real hard and it’s snowing, the fish will come up on the rocky points.

If you can stand the cold, this is the best time to catch a 9- or 10-pound bass at the Lake of the Ozarks.  This pattern usually lasts until the end of March when the water warms and bass start chasing crankbaits and spinnerbaits.

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.

Soft Jerkbaits for Fall Lake of the Ozarks Bass

By John Neporadny Jr

 

Earning a good reputation sometimes has its drawbacks. Soft plastic jerkbaits serve as a prime example. The effectiveness of soft jerkbaits in the spring leads some anglers to save these lures for one season and ignore them the rest of the year.

So this lure’s reputation for catching bass during the spring actually deters its usage in other seasons in which it would excel. However a tournament competitor from Lake of the Ozarks believes a lure that works so well in the spring should also produce in the fall. Finicky bass can be tricked by the subtle action and slow fall of a soft jerkbait throughout the spawning cycle, but this finesse lure also produces at Lake of the Ozarks during the bass feeding sprees of fall.

A Zoom Fluke free-falling through schools of shad catches bass during those frustrating times when the fish seem to ignore everything in your tacklebox. “Those bass come busting up through the schools of shad and a lot of times they don’t eat one but just injure it. Then whenever it’s settling to the bottom they nail it,” says Bruce Gier, Eldon, MO.  “The Fluke is the closest thing to (an injured shad) imitation that I can get.”

The tournament competitor relies on a pearl or glitter-color Fluke anytime he finds bass chasing shad and the fish continue to ignore his other presentations.  The technique usually excels when shad are in the backs of coves and the sunshine causes the baitfish to rise to the surface.

Casting to busting bass triggers some strikes, however tossing the lure into the middle of the forage also catches fish.   “There’s a bass underneath those shad. That’s just a given,” says Gier. “If you throw it right on that school of shad and let it deadfall, bass will bust it.” Gier just lets the lure fall to the bottom without imparting any action, then reels in again to cast to a busting fish or back into the shad balls.

Letting the lure fall on a tight line causes the jerkbait to stay on top too long, so Gier accelerates its rate of descent by keeping slack in his line. The bowed line makes it difficult to detect strikes on the fall, but Gier knows an immediate hookset is unnecessary.  “Once they hit it they won’t spit it out,” he claims.

The local angler rigs his Flukes on a 5/0 hook and leaves the point exposed since he’s fishing mostly in open water. Gier never adds weight to the lure, so he opts for a 6 ½-foot medium-action spinning rod with a light tip that allows him to throw the light bait a long distance.  He favors 8-pound test line and a spinning reel with a large spool capacity.

While he catches plenty of keeper-size bass on this trick, Gier has also taken quality fish with a soft jerkbait in the fall. “I don’t know how many times I’ve seen a 5-pounder come blowing completely out of the water in a big school of shad and I’ll throw everything I’ve got at it and not get a bite,” he says. “But this will work.”

Gier recommends trying this technique whenever shad activity is present in the backs of coves. The pattern ends in late fall when the water turns cold and the baitfish leave the coves. Gier employs this deadfall method from September to November on the upper Osage arm.

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 www.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.

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 Topwater Largemouths

By John Neporadny Jr.

 

Plop, plop, plop. Ka-Woosh.

Any Lake of the Ozarks angler who has experienced the thrill of topwater action knows these sounds of a plug popping across the surface followed by the attack of a largemouth bass.

All other tactics for catching bass pales in comparison to the excitement of a largemouth busting the surface to engulf a topwater bait. Lake of the Ozarks bass can be coaxed into attacking topwater lures from late spring to late fall but late April through May is the prime time for surface action. During this time bass will be feeding heavily before going on the nest, guarding a nest or guarding fry which makes them vulnerable to any lure buzzing, popping or walking above them.

During the summer, you have to throw surface lures early and late in the day to trigger strikes, but I have experienced good topwater action all day long—even on sunny afternoons—during May. Water clarity often dictates which topwater lure works best. Buzz baits generally produce best in murky water while a variety of surface plugs catch bass in stained to clear water.

Largemouth on my home lake usually start busting surface lures in late April when the fish are on the beds, and the topwater action heats up in May during the postspawn. My favorite topwater for Lake of the Ozarks is the Heddon Zara Spook in either baby bass or flitter shad (known locally as the Christmas tree color). The Spook is so effective because it can be worked at various speeds, but I have found the best presentation is a steady walk-the-dog retrieve. On many occasions I have seen fish follow the lure and I have drawn more strikes by speeding up my retrieve rather than stopping the lure.

I prefer fishing the clear-water section of the lake from the Gravois arm to the dam area where I key on the protected gravel pockets during early May. Male bass will either be on nests behind dock cables or along sea walls from 3 to 6 feet deep, but the hefty females will usually be suspended along the sides of the docks. You can catch plenty of 2-pounders working the Spook along the sea walls and open banks, but you need to walk the plug along the back or the shady side of a dock to catch 4- to 5-pounders.

This is the only time of the year when I prefer fishing topwaters on sunny afternoons. The sunshine warms the water to activate bass and baitfish and the bright conditions position the bigger fish in the shady areas under the dock, which makes them susceptible to the Spook sashaying in front of them.

From the middle to the end of May bass have moved out to either secondary or main lake points. The fish will still hit a Spook, but these open areas tend to have more wind so a Rebel Pop-R usually works better. On the windiest days, I switch to a Gilmore Jumper, a large double-blade prop bait that produces a lot of splash when jerked hard.

For information on lodging 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


Bass Fishing on Lake of the Ozarks’ North Shore

By John Neporadny Jr.

The North Shore arm contains some of the deepest and clearest water on the Lake of the Ozarks. This section of the lake stretches from Bagnell Dam to the mouth of the Gravois at about the six mile mark.

The North Shore features five long coves on the north side that warm up quickly to produce some of the earliest bass action in the spring. The major coves on the Horseshoe Bend side warm up slower and produce better fishing later in the spring. Secondary and main lake points are the key structures to fish most of the year on this arm.

The deep waters of the North Shore annually yield some of the biggest bass taken from the lake.  The biggest bass are usually caught in the early spring or at night during the summer. Bruce Gier, a former guide and one of the top bass tournament competitors at the lake, has caught tons of bass on the North Shore.

During the winter, Gier’s cold-water weapon is a weighted minnow bait.  The owner of Gier’s Bass Pro Shops in Eldon used to rely on a deep-diving Smithwick Rattlin’ Rogue to take winter bass but  his favorite lures now are the LuckyCraft suspending stickbaits (Bevy Shad 75, Pointer 78, Pointer 100 and Staysee).  His favorite colors are ghost minnow or Aurora blue in clear water and Nishiki or clown (red head, gold back and white belly) for stained to murky water.   He retrieves the lure with a series of twitches and long pauses that cause the stickbait to twitch and wobble like a dying shad.

The tournament veteran finds bass in the pockets if the lake level is low or the fish will stack up along secondary points if water is running through the dam. Twitching the stickbaits over brush piles in the 8- to 20-foot range allows Gier to catch suspended bass.

In February, North Shore bass seek the warmth of rocky banks that receive a lot of sunshine. During this time, water is being released though Bagnell Dam so ideal locations for bass include pockets near a corner where the current breaks around a secondary point.  “The fish will be just out of the current around that corner of the point,” advises Gier. “You can’t see any current but the fish sure notice it.”

If the fish are hugging bottom or have moved into shallow brush, Gier switches to a small brown Super Bass jig and tips it with a Zoom Critter Craw. For the most aggressive fish he tips the jig with a twin-tail plastic grub.

These two patterns usually produce for Gier until the middle of April when the water temperature climbs into the 50- to 60-degree range and the bass move into the pre-spawn stage. During this time, bass move off the chunk rock banks to the pea gravel and into brush piles less than 8 feet deep.

In early April, Gier catches some fish throwing a crawfish-color Storm Lures Wiggle Wart along the flat gravel banks in the coves. His favorite lure for big bass in April though is a 3/8- or 5/16-ounce brown Super Bass jig and plastic twin-tail trailer tied on 8-pound test line. He works the lure slowly along the bottom or through brush 5 to 8 feet deep in pockets of the coves or on the main lake. His favorite jig colors are green pumpkin or a brown-and-copper combination. If the water is off-colored, he opts for a black-and-blue combo.

When the water temperature climbs above 55 degrees Gier starts Carolina-rigging with a plastic lizard for the most aggressive fish and switches to a Centipede on a split-shot rig for lethargic bass. Best colors for these lures include green pumpkin, watermelon and pumpkinseed/chartreuse.

The fish begin their spawning ritual when the water temperature reaches the 60-degree mark usually in late April and the spawn last sometimes until the second week of May. Gier usually catches these fish behind docks in the pockets of coves where he pitches jigs and plastic craws or tube baits, finesse worms and a variety of other soft plastics.

“They’ll get under those cables around the docks,” says Gier. “That’s their number one spawning place—just where they can really deal you some havoc when you lay into one of those big babies.”

By the end of May, North Shore bass have completed the rigors of spawning and recuperate around boat docks near the gravel banks in coves. Slowly dragging a Carolina-rigged finesse worm or plastic lizard catches some fish along the sides of docks, but Gier’s favorite tactic for these fish is sweeping a jig over the top of the fish. The technique requires pitching a jig-and-craw to the shallows, then pulling it away from the bank about 5 to 6 feet, which triggers strikes from bottom-hugging bass. “You can have a heck of a good time doing that all day long,” says Gier.

Night fishing produces the biggest bass at North Shore throughout the summer. “The last two weeks of June through July is the best time to night fish on the North Shore, says Harold Stark a former BASS Federation National Championship qualifier who has fished the lake since 1978. “The fish are in a stable pattern then and once you find two or three spots that are holding fish, you can go back there and keep taking fish out of those spots.”

The Eldon, MO, angler starts his evening on the water at 7 p.m. and concentrates on brush piles 15 to 25 feet deep next to the main river channel.  “It helps if there is a dock around or a lot of docks where the fish can get in there and congregate,” he suggests. It’s also easier to find the brush piles in the dark if the cover is near docks with lights.

His top three lures for night fishing include a plastic worm, jigs and pork frogs and spinnerbaits. He uses an 8-inch or longer plastic worm in red shad, electric blue, black and black neon hues and Texas rigs the worm with a 5/16- or 7/16-ounce bullet sinker. His other night lure choices include a blue 1/ 2-ounce jig with a blue or black number 11 pork chunk and a 1/ 2-ounce black or purple short-arm spinnerbait with a blue number 11 pork frog trailer.

The tournament competitor works all three lures on 15- to 25-pound test line with bait-cast tackle.  He retrieves all three lures in the same fashion by crawling the baits through the limbs of the brush piles or along the drop-offs.

“August is a good time to start throwing that spinnerbait,” Stark says.  “The fish see those plastic worms and jigs all the time.”

Fishing can be tough in the early fall when the fish are in transition moving from deep structure to the shallows. As the water temperature cools, bass move extremely shallow and stay there throughout autumn. “The fish get so shallow on the North Shore in the clear water that they can’t swim straight up and down underneath the foam of the dock,” discloses Gier. Good spots to try in the shallows are the floating supports of dock walkways either in the main lake cuts or in the backs of coves.

Topwater chuggers and Zara Spooks are good lures for fall fishing, but Gier prefers 1/ 2-ounce buzz baits and 3/8- or 1/ 2-ounce spinnerbaits with white-and-chartreuse skirts. If the water is off-colored he opts for spinnerbaits with painted blades, but switches to gold blades in clear-water conditions.

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.