Tag Archive for Topwater Bass Fishing

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


Busting Bass Tricks at Lake of the Ozarks

By John Neporadny Jr.

 

Fall Bass Fishing Lake of the Ozarks

The same scenario is played out every fall on Lake of the Ozarks.

Black pods of shad are everywhere. The constant flicking of baitfish on the surface is a pleasing sound to both anglers and bass on a peaceful sunny afternoon. Then all of a sudden the water explodes and boils as bass bust through the schools of shad. Occasionally the wake of a bass can be seen in the shallows as it hotly pursues a baitfish.

After spending the hot summer slumbering in deep-water haunts, bass follow baitfish in the fall to the shallows, where the cooler water triggers a feeding frenzy. The recurring fall scenes of bass busting schools of shad make 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. That excitement can quickly turn into frustration, however, when you make countless casts to these marauders and the fish continue to ignore your offerings. The frustration also continues to mount when you continue to switch lures with the same results.

The surface commotion makes it easier to locate bass in this situation, but anglers still face the challenge of tricking these fish into biting their offering rather than the smorgasbord of natural bait in the vicinity.

Lake of the Ozarks guide Skip Surbaugh favors throwing a topwater lure when bass bust the surface. “I’m a (Zara) Spook freak,” he confesses. “I carry a Spook rigged up with me all the time in the fall.”  The local guide occasionally throws a Rebel Pop-R at surface explosions, but the Super Spook is his top choice for catching big bass in autumn.

Surbaugh selects a chrome-color Spook that he retrieves in an erratic fashion. He walks the lure quickly in short jerky motions by constantly popping the rod with his wrists. The action makes the lure pop and spit while it walks across the surface. Sometimes Surbaugh retrieves the lures quickly and then pauses it to trigger a strike.

If a fish misses his Spook, Surbaugh follows up by throwing a Zoom Fluke or Yamamoto Senko to the blow-up. He opts for a 6-inch shad-pattern Fluke or a light-colored 4-inch Senko and impales both lures on a wide gap hook (3/0 to 4/0 for the Fluke and 3/0 for the Senko).  Letting the lure flutter down is Surbaughs’s favorite follow-up presentation for the Fluke; he prefers walking the Senko in the same fashion as a Spook.

When a bass busts the surface, Surbaugh always casts past the explosion and then retrieves his lures back through that spot. He makes a few deliveries to the surface commotion before trying a new target. “I don’t spend a lot of time on that, maybe two shots at it,” he says.

With all that surface commotion, you figure a bass should hit about anything you throw over there. But when strikes are few and the frustration mounts, just keep trying because there is something the fish will bite.

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.