Tag Archive for lake of the ozarks bass fishing

Lake of the Ozarks Great for Bass Fishing

Lake of the Ozarks is premier bass destination

By John Neporadny Jr.

Lake of the Ozarks showcases its superb bass fishing each year during national, regional and local bass tournaments.

While he had not been on the Lake of the Ozarks for more than a decade, Bassmaster Elite Series pro Mike McClelland said he was reminded of how much fun it was to fish there when he recently competed in the Missouri Invitational Fishing and Golf Championship at the lake. The Buena Vista, Ark., pro honed his skills fishing tournaments at Ozark highland reservoirs, including Lake of the Ozarks.

The northernmost reservoir in the Ozark foothills has some similarities and differences in comparison to the other Ozark highland lakes McClelland has fished. “The biggest thing that makes Lake of the Ozarks such an incredible fishery is all of the boat docks on the lake (similar to Oklahoma’s Grand Lake)” McClelland said. “So many of the fish are protected from angling most of the year because of all the cover boat docks allow them to have.”

“The lake is also extremely fertile and has a huge concentration of shad,” he said. “It just has a huge forage base including bluegill and crappie that is absolutely phenomenal. I really believe that more bass forage on crappie than we can ever imagine.”

The Lake of the Ozarks features the same defined creek channels and turns as the rest of the Ozark highland reservoirs. “As an Ozark angler the one thing you really learn to rely on are fishing those channel turns and figuring out what part of the channel turns the fish are in,” McClelland said. “There are some days when bass are going to be on the very ends of those and there are times of the year when they are going to be in the middle of them. Once you figure out where the fish are set up in those channel bends in the major creek arms it can really be an easy way to duplicate the pattern throughout the course of the lake.”

McClelland believes the major difference between Lake of the Ozarks and its Ozark highland neighbors is the lake’s productivity throughout its 54,000 acres. “What really amazes me about Lake of the Ozarks is the consistency of the lake from end to end,” he said. “The versatility the lake has to offer is unbelievable.”

Any time he competed on the Lake of the Ozarks McClelland thought the tournament could be won in any section of the lake. “I really believed the lake could potentially produce a winning stringer nearly from (Bagnell) dam as far up the (Osage) river as you can go at any given time,” he said. “Whereas (the Ozarks lakes of) Table Rock, Bull Shoals and Beaver really fish sketchier and there are times when certain sections of those lakes are working and the rest of those lakes don’t seem to be on.”

During March and early April most of the Lake of the Ozarks bass will be in the prespawn stage. McClelland recommends tournament competitors key on the black rocks Ozark anglers call “lava” rock. “Any of those areas where you have that dark-colored rock close to gravel transition areas are really key focus points for me that time of the year,” McClelland said. “I think the heat from those dark-colored rocks pulls up those fish especially when they are getting closer to that spawning period. “

McClelland’s favorite lures to throw for prespawn Lake of the Ozark bass in clear to stained water are Spro McStick 110 and 115 stickbaits and Spro RkCrawler crankbaits. “If the water gets really dirty, Lake of the Ozarks is a good spinnerbait lake in the spring,” McClelland said.

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.

Reprinted with permission from B.A.S.S. Publications.

Guido Hibdon on Fishing the Lake of the Ozarks

By John Neporadny Jr.

Before becoming a superstar on the national bass tournament trails, Guido Hibdon honed his skills on his home waters of Lake of the Ozarks.

This former third-generation guide began taking clients crappie fishing at Lake of the Ozarks when he was 13 years old. He began fishing the national tournament circuits in 1980 when he won the Bassmaster Missouri Invitational on Lake of the Ozarks. Hibdon emerged as one of the top bass anglers in the world when he won the 1988 Bassmaster Classic and two straight BASS Angler of the Year titles in 1990 and 1991.

The pro angler has seen the lake change drastically since his guiding days, but he still considers it a top-notch bass fishery. “Lake of the Ozarks has a lot of pressure on it, but I still rank it in the top five in the country,” Hibdon says. “It’s still an awful good place. I wouldn’t live here if I didn’t think it was a good lake.”

Hibdon scales down to a 1/8-ounce jig and 8-pound test line to catch wintertime bass at home.” We catch a ton of them on a regular crappie jig.” says Hibdon, who favors a chartreuse jighead with a white 2 3/ 4-inch homemade tube. He throws the little tube around docks and brush piles and sometimes sets it a couple of feet below a bobber. Another concoction Hibdon uses to catch wintertime bass is a trimmed white Mr. Twister twin-tail grub and a white skirt attached to a 1/8-ounce jig.

The fish will be anywhere from 2 to 15 feet deep along the main channel bluffs on the lower end of the lake.    “We can catch a lot of them around the docks and actually see the fish bite,” discloses Hibdon.

During the prespawn, Hibdon relies on three lures that he fishes 10 to 12 feet deep around brush piles on secondary points. He favors a 1/8- to 1/ 4-ounce jig (melon pepper, green pumpkin or black-and-blue hues) tipped with a small plastic craw or Yamamoto twin tail grubs in the same colors, which he works on 8- to 10-pound test line. The Gravois Mills, Mo., angler also relies on a crawfish or shad-pattern Worden’s Timber Tiger crankbait tied on 12- to 14-pound line or a shad-pattern Rapala Husky Jerk attached to 8- to 10-pound test.

The clear waters on the lower end of the lake are Hibdon’s favorite areas to try during the prespawn. He believes bass move out of the wintertime haunts to the shallows from the end of February through March when the water temperature ranges from 40 to 55 degrees.

During the spawn, Hibdon likes to “go looking for them.”  He sight fishes for nesting bass and skips tube baits under the dock cables. Using 10- to 12-pound line, Hibdon skips a 4-inch plastic (green pumpkin, grasshopper or watermelon/red flake hues) that he attaches to a 1/16- or 1/8-ounce jighead for fishing in open water or Texas rigs the tube with a 1/16- or 1/8-ounce Eagle Claw HP weight and 1/0 Eagle Claw HP hook for throwing behind the docks.

“The bass will spawn anywhere,” he says. “I have caught spawning fish off of bluffs, but pea gravel banks pretty much are the main spawning areas.” He suggests the middle of April is the peak of the bass spawn when the water temperature rises to 62 degrees. His favorite area to catch spawning bass is around the Tan-Tar-A Resort area if the water is clear enough for sight fishing.

During the postspawn, Hibdon runs to the upper end of the lake from Proctor Creek to the Buffalo creeks and throws topwater lures. He favors a Zara Spook in flitter shad (known locally as the Christmas tree color), blue shore minnow or yellow shore minnow hues. Another effective lure for postspawn bass is a pink floating worm that Hibdon threads on a 3/0 straight shank Gamakatsu hook and puts a twist in the worm’s body. He throws all of his topwater lures on 12- to 14-pound test.

The tournament veteran works his lures fast and covers a lot of water. “The big males are just following the little fry around and they are just easy to catch then,” says Hibdon, who runs this pattern sometimes until the first week of July.

Slowly working jigs and plastic worms through main-lake brush and along bluffs down to 30 feet deep produces bass for Hibdon during the summertime. In the hottest part of summer, Hibdon usually fishes from the Grand Glaize arm to Proctor Creek on the Osage.

His favorite summertime lures include a Dion’s Classic on a 3/8 or 1/ 2-ounce jighead,  a 3/8-ounce to  1/ 2-ounce live rubber jig tipped with Dion’s Classic grub (blue-and-black, green pumpkin, melon pepper or chartreuse pumpkin hues) or a 10-inch black plastic worm. He works all three lures on 14- to 20-pound test line and employs a drop-shot rig for the worm (4/0 Owner wide gap hook and a 1/ 2-ounce weight set about 10 inches below the hook).

About the middle of September, Hibdon fishes “wherever the wind is blowing”, especially if baitfish are present in the area. He jerks a black-and-chrome topwater popper on 20-pound test line or runs a 1/ 4- to 3/8-ounce spinnerbait (white-and-chartreuse or white with gold and silver blades) tipped with the tail section of a Dion’s Classic around cover. If he’s fishing open water, Hibdon wakes a 1/ 2-ounce spinnerbait. Another topwater lure that produces for Hibdon in the fall is a white buzz bait (3/8- to 1/ 2-ounce body) with gold or copper blades.

The fall patterns usually work for Hibdon until the first week of December, and then he goes back to fishing the crappie jig.

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 & 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 Ideal For Vacations And Bass Fishing

by John Neporadny Jr.

Always well-known as one of the Midwest’s most popular vacation spots, the Lake of the Ozarks has also quietly developed into a top-rated bass reservoir throughout the years.

This 58,000-acre lake in central Missouri generates year-round action for both largemouth and spotted bass. Fed by the Osage, Grand Glaize and Niangua rivers, this massive reservoir runs 92 miles long and offers anglers more than 1,000 miles of shoreline and numerous deep-water structures to fish.

The lack of recreational boat traffic makes winter a popular season for bass anglers at the Lake of the Ozarks. On mild days in December and January, local anglers concentrate on main lake points for largemouths and bluff walls for spotted bass. Popular lures include a plastic grub or a Fat Gitzit on a 1/4-ounce jighead, which should be dropped to depths of 15 to 30 feet. The best wintertime spots are the clear-water areas close to the dam, the lower Osage arm and the mouths of the Niangua and Gravois arms.

More patterns start to develop in February. Weighted deep-diving stick baits work best along main and secondary points in the Grand Glaize, Niangua and Gravois arms. Bass start moving shallower in these tributary arms since the water tends to warm faster than the main lake. Bass can be taken right along the bank on the Niangua arm, but in most areas of the tributaries the fish hold at 6 to 8 feet deep. Some of the most productive spots are big chunk rock secondary points in the backs of the major coves. Bluff-end points also hold plenty of staging fish.

The weighted stick bait pattern usually produces best in late February through March. Anglers use either the manufacturer’s suspending models or modify floating stick baits with a variety of weights. These lures are one of the more prominent big stringer baits in March. The key to catching these lethargic bass in the cold, clear water is a slow retrieve which keeps the lure suspended in the bass’ strike zone.

In this late winter-early spring stage, bass also start gorging on crawfish in the shallows. Storm Wiggle Warts or Bomber Model A crankbaits produce best during this time. On warm, sunny days, you can also catch bass flipping a jig and pork frog in the upper arms of the tributaries.

The lake usually yields its heaviest stringers of bass from March through the end of April. Bass will be in the pre-spawn and spawning stages in April and May when a multitude of patterns unfold. Some of the top-producing lures in the spring include jerk baits, crankbaits, jigs and pork frogs and plastic lizards. Dragging a Carolina-rigged plastic lizard along pea gravel banks and pockets in the backs of the big creeks and coves is one of the most productive springtime tactics.

Anglers can sight fish for bedding bass in the clearer arms of the lake, such as the Gravois and areas around the dam. However, some anglers prefer running up the Osage arm to find dirtier water, which causes bass to spawn shallower and hit lures more aggressively. The upper Osage becomes an excellent area to flip a jig when the lake level rises and floods the shoreline bushes. Depending on the weather, the spawn usually starts anywhere from the second week of April and runs into late May.

Some fish start using the lake’s numerous docks as cover for spawning in the spring. The best dock patterns usually run from the post-spawn stage through fall.

After the spawn, bass pull back to the main lake points or steep bluff banks and suspend under docks which offer cover and shade. Post spawn is a prime time to catch bass on a variety of topwater lures.

Fishing can be good during the summer if you avoid the peak times of recreational activity. Early and late in the day, bass move up shallow on the points to feed, but when the pleasure boating activity increases, the fish drop down to the bottom even as deep as 35 feet on main-lake points or under docks along steep banks.

The best fishing for the average angler occurs in the early morning. Try throwing  small topwater lures, such as a Rebel Pop-R or Heddon Tiny Torpedo to catch spotted bass along main lake points in the clear-water areas from the dam to the 22-mile mark. Other productive morning lures include Zara Spooks, crankbaits and plastic worms. From June through early September, the best methods for taking bass during mid-day is working Texas-or Carolina-rigged 7- to 11-inch plastic worms along points and in deep brush piles under docks.

The lake’s lower end also offers excellent nocturnal action for bass during the summertime. A 10- to 11-inch plastic worm worked slowly through main lake brush produces some heavyweight catches during this time. A general guideline for summertime fishing on Lake of the Ozarks is to concentrate on the dirty-water arms during the day and the clear-water areas at night.

The prime season for catching numbers of bass at Lake of the Ozarks is the fall. If the lake level rises and floods the shoreline vegetation, bass can be caught in the weeds on buzz baits or flipping jigs and plastic worms. Bass follow baitfish into the shallows of the creeks where they can be taken on plastic worms and lizards, jigs and pork frogs, topwater lures, spinnerbaits and stick baits.

Throwing a spinnerbait around shallow docks on the flats of the upper Osage arm is one of the most productive fall patterns. Working a Zara Spook around the same docks also takes bass, especially on cloudy days.

In November and early December, bass migrate out of the creeks back towards the main lake points. Along the route, bass suspend around docks that have plenty of brush or deep-water structure, such as creek channel swings, underneath the floating cover. The fish tend to stack up this time of year and seem to group by size as anglers can frequently catch several 3- to 4-pounders from one spot. One effecive technique for these bass is to cast a jig and pork frog around the docks and let the lure fall into the brush piles. Spinnerbaits and crankbaits retrieved through the suspended fish also work well then.

The Lake of the Ozarks has plenty of year-round accommodations available no matter which season you enjoy fishing. A multitude of motels and family resorts and private campground sites are spread throughout the lake area. Public campsites are available at the Lake of the Ozarks State Park. The lake also has numerous marinas, along with public and private launch ramps. 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. Although best known as a summer vacation hot spot, the Lake of the Ozarks has quietly become a choice Midwest location for bass anglers to visit during any season.

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.