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John Neporadny Jr.

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  1. Lake of the Ozarks bass anglers need to “go with the flow” to get in on the best fishing action during September. By September, the summer heat has generated bath-water temperatures and depleted oxygen levels in the shallows of lakes and ponds throughout the state. These conditions make for some tough fishing during the month, but anglers can still catch plenty of fish at Lake of the Ozarks by seeking waters with plenty of current. When fishing the headwaters of the lake, bass anglers will discover the current in these waters create a cool, oxygen-rich environment that makes bass more aggressive feeders. So Lake of the Ozarks anglers should “go with the flow” for the best bass action at the lake during early fall. When September arrives, veteran tournament angler Mike Malone starts running up the Osage arm of the lake to catch bass. “Those fish are moving at that time and the baitfish are moving and bass get predominantly on those mud flats (on the upper Osage arm),” he says. “If you can figure out what area of that upper reach is on you are going to catch a bunch.” The Lake Ozark angler keys on the main lake flats rather than back in the creeks because current is more predominant there. “There is usually a two- to three-hour window where they turn on the water (at Truman Dam),” Malone says. “As long as there is movement to the water, those fish get positioned and are very predictable as to where they are going to be and how to catch them.” Malone usually finds bass around boat docks where the fish remain less than 4 feet deep. “I have a milk run where I might hit 30 to 40 docks up there starting at about Proctor Creek all the way up to the 88-mile marker,” he says. “Sometimes the fish are on the outside ends of the docks. If they are not running current the fish might be on the backs of the docks.” Malone’s favorite lures for throwing around the docks include a black/red flake flipping tube, black/chartreuse jig with blue plastic chunk, a 1/2-ounce white/chartreuse spinnerbait and black/chartreuse wake bait. Anglers unfamiliar with this section need to be cautious while navigating the upper lake because it contains lots of shallow mud flats on the main lake and in coves. “It’s not an area where you want to go fast if you don’t know where you are going,” Malone says. He recommends using good electronics and mapping to navigate safely in this section of the lake. 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.
  2. Schooling bass show up just about anywhere during the summer at Lake of the Ozarks. You can usually find them surfacing near some type of point, channel or other areas that are close to deep water. There doesn't seem to be any particular time when these fish show up on the surface, so I always keep a rod rigged specifically for schooling bass. If you notice schooling fish surface one day at 10 a.m., chances are they will come up the next day at the same time and location. That isn’t always true, but it's usually a pretty good way to predict when schooling fish will surface. When approaching schooling fish on the surface, get on the trolling motor as quickly as possible to get to the fish. If you run the big motor you will spook them off. Pay attention to which direction the bass are heading and try to get in front of them. You will do a lot better if you use your trolling motor as little as possible. Tying two tube bats with 1/4-ounce jigheads on a rod is a great rig for schooling bass. Throw the double rig on 17- or 20-pound test line. The double tube rig is ideal for schooling bass because most of the time if you hook one fish than you're going to catch two. Tie the rig with a triangle swivel or a knot with two separate lines coming down from it. Keep the two lures about 8 or 10 inches apart. Any shad patterns will work for your tube bait colors. In clear water, one of the best color combinations is clear/silver flake/black back. If the water is a little bit stained than try pearl/black back or even chartreuse/black back. When you start throwing this double rig, you might try two different colors to see which one the fish prefer. If they keep hitting one color, then put two tubes in that same color on the rig. Sometimes big fish come to the top. However most of the time smaller bass chase baitfish on the surface while the bigger fish lurk underneath them waiting for an easy meal. When concentrating on the surfacing bass, use a fast retrieve while you crank and hop the lure. Make the retrieve as erratic as you can to imitate the action of the baitfish as it flees from the bass. If you let the rig fall a little deeper, you might catch some 3- and 4-pounders or even bigger fish hanging under the smaller bass. Once the bass drop down, sometimes you can let you lure fall deeper and still catch some. Schooling fish are odd characters though, once they go down, they seem to totally quit biting. They are like a bunch of wolves attacking the shad. They get into a school and hunt together so if you stay on top of that school you can still catch them. 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.
  3. When crappie settle into the wide-open expanses of deep water during the summer, Lake of the Ozarks guide Terry Blankenship relies on his Humminbird 360 imaging system to pinpoint the fish. The guide mainly vertical jigs along bluffs and ledges or shoots docks for Lake of the Ozarks crappie in the summertime. HTre previously used side-imaging technology to find crappie in deep water, but now he favors the following advantages of the 360 viewing over side imaging. *Front viewing: “When you have side imaging you just scan whatever is in that scan line,” Blankenship said. “Most of the time it is behind you so the advantage of the 360 is that you can see fish in front of you.” *Tracking movements: “One huge advantage of using 360 around docks is to be able to keep an eye on where the fish are at because the fish tend to roam back and forth under a dock a lot of times,” Blankenship said. “So there have been times when I have fished and thought I had caught them all or they quit biting. Then I would pay attention to my 360 and notice they had moved.” Blankenship has seen on his 360 when crappie have moved away from him to the other side of a dock after he had caught several fish. “So I would go around to the other side and find them on my 360 and start catching them again,” he said. *Casting aid: Since he never uses an anchor, Blankenship depends on his trolling motor to stay on top or within casting distance of crappie schools. While waves or current can make it difficult to keep his boat in the right position, Blankenship looks at the radar-style imaging of the 360 to cast accurately to a piece of cover or a school of suspended crappie. The veteran crappie angler also notes the 360 imaging shows him if the cover or crappie school is at a 90-degree or 180-degree angle from the nose of his boat. “It is just a huge advantage to help you find the direction you need to cast.” Blankenship said. “So basically what a 360 can do for you is keep the fish pinpointed for as long as they stay within range of your unit’s reach.” Dialing in 360 settings For best viewing results, Blankenship manually adjusts the settings of his 360 system and always favors dialing on the high side. “I would rather run my settings higher than lower,” Blankenship said. “Water conditions sometimes dictate what I want to do (with the settings). One of the tricks of trying to figure out how to do the settings is once you spot something on the screen just freeze the screen by hitting the cursor button. Then just starting messing with your settings a little bit and see which way gives you the best detail.” Blankenship recommends adjusting these features of the 360 system rather than using the default settings. *Sensitivity: The auto setting for sensitivity is 10 on a scale of 1 to 20 so Blankenship usually starts at 13 and adjusts to a higher setting if necessary. *Contrast: Blankenship also starts at the same number (13) on the contrast scale as he does with sensitivity. *Range: The Missouri guide usually sets the range of his 360 system at 60 feet for the best results. “If you are looking too wide everything is so small that you miss some detail,” he said. *Boat speed: Although not a setting on the 360 unit, the speed of your boat while scanning with 360 will also enhance or diminish the images on the screen. Moving too slow or too fast will blur the imaging so Blankenship favors idling his boat at 3 to 4 miles per hour for the best readings. Combining 360 with sonar and side imaging Blankenship frequently splits the screen on his Humminbird unit to watch both the 360 imaging and sonar so he can get a better idea of the depth under his boat and how deep crappie within his casting range are suspended. One of the disadvantages of the 360 imaging is its lack of clarity compared to side imaging, according to Blankenship. So if he wants a clearer image of a piece of cover or details under a dock he was radially viewing, Blankenship will scan the area with side imaging next. Getting familiar with 360 During his guide trips at the lake, Blankenship notices his clients who own side-imaging units are puzzled by the 360 image they see on the screen. “The image is different (than side-imaging), “he said. “It is looking twice in a circle at things the whole time and it blurs things differently. There is just a different look that you have to get used to with a 360.” Blankenship offers the following tip for new 360 users to better detect what they see on the screen. “The best thing you can do is to take the unit out to something you know is under water, whether it is a brush pile or rock pile or a point,” he said. “Go out there and cruise around it a little bit and get a feel for what things are looking like.” Then you will be ready to track down those Lake of the Ozarks summertime crappie. 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.
  4. Boat docks are high priority targets for Casey Scanlon whenever he practices for a tournament at Lake of the Ozarks. Scanlon admits targeting docks gives him confidence, especially since he guides on Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks, the 54,000-acre reservoir loaded with countless docks. So it is a given that the first piece of cover Scanlon checks out in practice will be a dock. Throughout his pro career, Scanlon has fished all sorts of docks ranging from the stationary wooden piers to floating structures secured with steel cables. Scanlon mainly fishes the floating-style boat houses attached to steel cables on his home lake. The FLW Tour pro considers docks ideal cover because the structures extend over a wide range of depths. “You can fish them from zero to 30 feet deep,” says Scanlon. “A lot of times home owners put brush under them (a bonus piece of cover).” The boat houses also allow bass to move up and down in the water column where they can suspend right under the foam of the floating structures or at a mid-depth range or hug the bottom. Boat docks attract plenty of forage fish for bass too. “Every dock is going to have bluegill underneath it and it is nice to find docks where the shad are congregating around as well,” Scanlon says. “There is always going to be bait present and mostly in the form of bluegill which I think bigger fish prefer.” Docks also create a lot of shade where bass can lurk and set up to ambush baitfish. “I always keep an eye on shade and am aware of it in case I start getting bites,” Scanlon says. “I always fish the shady side (of docks) a little bit harder.” Scanlon notes the only time he avoids the shady side of docks is during winter and early spring when bass seek warmer water. Then he keys on the sunny side of a dock, especially where the sunshine is hitting the black floatation, which generates warmer water. “An ideal dock to me is the biggest I can find without being a marina dock,” says Scanlon, who prefers large private docks that can cast expansive shade. The local pro also favors fishing isolated docks or if an area is loaded with boat houses, he keys on the first few docks heading into a creek, the last few docks in the back of a creek, or docks situated on a point or break line. “I rarely go down a row of 20 docks that are all in 15 feet of water,” he says. When he has to fish an area with rows of docks, Scanlon tries to pick out individual targets rather than fish a whole row. “I will side scan (the docks) with my Garmin electronics and look at my down view and see where the fish are positioned,” Scanlon says. “I am mostly looking for cover so if one of the docks has a brush pile underneath that is the one I am going to target. I also look for the biggest one and the ugliest one with stuff falling off of it. I also look for rod holders and fish baskets--just signs that a fisherman lives there.” Docks are productive year-round for Scanlon, so here are his tips on how to fish this type of cover throughout the four seasons at Lake of the Ozarks. Winter “A lot of the fish will either be around docks in the deep guts in the very back of the creeks or isolated docks on a secondary point or the main lake,” Scanlon says. “Basically I am looking for a dock that has a lot of depth under it and I am looking for a lot of shad. I look for docks where the fish don’t have to move a whole lot. If it is sunny they can slide up in 10 feet of water and then they can slide back the other direction by 10 or 12 feet into depths of 30 to 40 feet. “ On extremely sunny days, Scanlon will fish the back side of docks along steep banks, but most of the time he keys on the sides of docks or wherever he finds brush piles near the floating structure. “Bass like to suspend that time of year so if there is some brush on the side or if there is a brush pile behind the dock I will flip a jig there,” Scanlon says. He also concentrates on the front of large boat houses where bass hang around the steel cables that anchor the docks. Spring “I am looking for the transitions in the bank where the channel bank turns down into gravel, which is where the fish are looking to spawn,” Scanlon says. “So I like docks that are situated really close to the bank, especially if the back of the dock is up on the bank.” He believes bass flock to these shallow docks because the cover is similar to a laydown log that provides bass with shelter extending from the bank out to deeper water. When bass move to the bank to spawn, Scanlon fishes the back side of the docks then. Summer Similar to winter, Scanlon keys on deep-water docks that attract plenty of shad. “So I am looking for those isolated docks and trying to catch fish suspended on the front corners that are looking for bait,” says Scanlon, who keys on large docks on main lake points and channel swings. He also fishes brush piles near those docks and works his lures along the bottom for bass holding tight to the wood cover. Fall The touring pro concentrates on isolated docks along main lake flats or the last few docks on flats in the creeks. Tracking shad is the key to finding the most productive lures during this season. 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.
  5. After bass go through the rigors of spawning, there is no rest for the weary fish as they make the trek to their summertime haunts on Lake of the Ozarks. When bass leave the spawning nests, male bass usually stay in the shallows for a while to protect fry while the females start on the migration route to deeper water. Eventually all the bass will travel the same route to their summer homes so the key to catching postspawn bass is intercepting them during this transition stage at Lake of the Ozarks. Fishing can be fantastic during this time because after a couple of weeks of fasting while on the nest, bass are hungry and will attack just about anything you put in front of them. You will experience some of the hottest bass action of the year if you can locate these transition fish throughout the postspawn stage. Some bass are still spawning along the pea gravel banks at the lake in early May while others are moving to the docks in the pockets where they are protecting fry. Local guide Ben Blankenbeker suggests looking for the postspawn bass 6 to 8 feet deep around the docks. The best lures for tempting these fish include crankbaits, Gene Larew Biffle Bugs, Strike King Rage Bugs or Reaction Innovations Sweet Beavers on wobble head jigs and a variety of Texas-rigged soft plastics. Some bass in the early postspawn stage will be holding in shallow brush piles along the gravel banks in the pockets. “They are not totally dug into brush deep like they are in the summertime but they start hanging around it,” Blankenbeker says. As postspawn bass move out of the pockets they set up 8 to 10 feet deep on the next stop along their transition route. “The fish will be working their way back out towards the main lake after the spawn,” Blankenbeker says. “That is when you want to start focusing on secondary points.” Blankenbeker targets docks along the secondary points and tempts the transition bass with spinnerbaits, jigs tipped with NetBait Paca Chunks, Texas-rigged plastic creature baits and tube baits. Topwater plugs such as Zara Spooks also catch plenty of postspawn bass along the secondary points. By late May postspawn bass use transition routes near deep water to move closer to the main lake. “Usually they like a creek channel coming out of the back of a cove and they like deep water nearby,” Blankenbeker says. He finds these fish holding at depths of 10 to 15 feet next to deep drop-offs. His primary lures for postspawn bass in the late stage include Zoom Brush Hogs, Texas-rigged magnum-size plastic worms and deep-diving crankbaits. Blankenbeker’s favorite area of the lake for postspawn bass is the mid-section of the Osage arm since he mainly guides in that area. He also favors the Gravois arm since it is loaded with creek channels transitioning bass can use. “The (Grand) Glaize is another area that has got some good transition routes in it,” Blankenbeker says. The local guide ranks May as a good month to fish his home lake. He claims anglers can catch up to 15 keepers (15-inch or bigger bass) in a day and 3- to 5-pound largemouth are common catches then. During 4-hour guide trips, Blankenbeker’s clients have caught 50 to 60 bass a day during the postspawn. 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.
  6. When pollen coats the water surface of Lake of the Ozarks, Mike Malone knows it’s time to throw a floating worm. The pollen coating on the surface signifies bass are bedding on Malone’s home lake, but the tournament veteran suggests you can use other signs of spring in your region to determine when bass are spawning. When the spawn is on, Malone opts for the floating worm, a finesse bait that has produced for him for 20 years. “It’s a stealthy, finesse bait that doesn’t make a lot of noise when it hits the water,” he says. “You are able to skip it under cover such as boat dock ramps, cables and tree limbs, etc. in a real quiet presentation. It works best during the spawn when the fish are pretty skittish.” “Many times I have been able to fish behind guys who were flipping a jig, a worm or a tube and catch multiple fish with the worm,” Malone says. “I have had many 20-pound bags throwing that worm. It’s just a timing deal to catching the big ones and it is a pretty deadly bait for three or four weeks in the spring.” The local angler will throw the floating worm in sunshine or overcast weather but wind creates problems for him since it tends to blow his line and unweighted worm too much. “Wind is taboo,” he says. Finding the spawning banks is the key to Malone’s floating worm technique. On Lake of the Ozarks, Malone looks for pea gravel pockets or clay banks protected from the wind. He also throws the worm along indentations of bluff banks that hold spawning bass. Malone’s favorite bait for this presentation is a 6-inch Zoom Trick Worm in bright hues such as yellow and bubble gum but occasionally he will throw a green pumpkin or bullfrog color worm to imitate bluegills. He recommends experimenting with different colors until you find one the fish seem to prefer. “The fish do get conditioned to seeing stuff over and over again, so anything different is probably going to work,” he says. The Trick Worm is rigged wacky style by impaling a 1/0 Gamakatsu Drop Shot Hook slightly above the worm’s egg sack which gives the worm a fluttering action. “I want that worm to pulsate at both ends when I twitch it,” Malone says. His floating worm tackle consists of a 6-foot, 8-inch St. Croix Legend Elite medium action/extra fast tip spinning rod and Lew’s Tournament Pro Speed Spin spinning reel filled with 10- to 20-pound test Toray braided line in a low-visibility green. Making long-distance deliveries is a key to Malone’s floating worm tactic. “It is pretty important to make long, long casts if the water is clear because typically those fish will see you by the time you see them,” he says. “If I can just make a long cast into an area where I can see beds but I don’t really see any fish that is a good thing because those fish are just in the shadows just off the beds. Nine out of 10 times I can catch one there.” He also turns off his electronics to prevent spooking these shallow fish. Even though rigged without a weight, the Trick Worm sinks slowly throughout Malone’s presentation. Most of the time Malone retrieves the worm similar to a jerkbait with a twitch-twitch-pause cadence. He usually lets the worm sink for a second or two before repeating the sequence. The tournament competitor notices some days the fish want the worm moving but on other days he has to let it sink down to depths of 4 to 6 feet to trigger bites. Since bigger bass usually inhale the worm, Malone sets the hook immediately when he feels a tick. “I reel up the slack and I pop them,” he says. If he notices a bluegill biting on the worm, he lets the sunfish pull until it drops the worm and then gets ready for a bigger bite. “A lot of times that is when I catch a good bass because they hate bluegill,” he says. The floating worm also serves as a good follow-up lure when a bass blows up and misses a Luckycraft Gunfish topwater plug Malone also likes to throw during the spawn. “Those big fish if they don’t kill (the topwater lure), they slap at it,” Malone says. “So they are exposed then and I drop my Talons (shallow-water anchors) and I throw that floating worm on them. Seventy-five percent of the time I am going to catch them then.” When the floating worm bite is on, Malone recommends having plenty of worms on hand since you might be going through three to four bags of your favorite colors while catching 50 to 100 fish a day. The worm will produce both numbers and quality fish during the spawn. “I have caught a bunch of fish between 4 and 6 pounds on it,” says Malone, whose biggest bass caught on a floating worm was a 7-pounder. 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.
  7. The spring crappie fishing outlook should be good to excellent whether you decide to dunk a minnow or pitch a jig at Lake of the Ozarks. Crappie abound throughout the lake and springtime crappie fishing heats up in early March and continues to excel on some parts of the lake until almost Memorial Day. Lake levels remain fairly constant throughout the years at Lake of the Ozarks so crappie reproduction is pretty consistent most years. Warm spells of two to three days in February can trigger some good shallow-water action, according to guide Terry Blankenship. “One of the most fun patterns for me in February is bobber fishing,” he says. “You can catch large numbers of fish in February because the crappie are starting to prepare for their spring fattening up for the spawn.” “That time of year the shallower long coves and creek arms will warm the quickest,” Blankenship says. “If there is a lot of south wind warming the water and rolling it onto the north banks, the baitfish will go to those shores which will bring in gamefish. “ Blankenship suggests you can catch the biggest fish of the year as shallow as 2 feet deep during the warm days of February and early March. His favorite lures to stick below a bobber are Bobby Garland Baby Shad and Baby Shad Swim’R soft plastics on 1/16-ounce jigheads. He also relies on a Bobby Garland 3-inch Slab Slay’R for dock shooting in the early spring. The veteran guide rates the Grand Glaize, Niangua and Little Niangua arms and Indian Creek on the Gravois arm as the best areas to try for early spring crappie action. Prespawn crappie usually bunch up in brush piles 8 to 15 feet deep in the coves throughout March and early April. The spawn begins on the upper reaches and tributaries of the lake in early April and spreads down lake to the dam by the end of April. Ideal spawning areas are pea gravel pockets laden with boat docks or laydowns. 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.
  8. Most winters lately in this area have been mild with Lake of the Ozarks remaining nearly ice-free allowing anglers to fish throughout the winter. However during the coldest winters, ice buildup limits access to the lake and anglers have to wait for a thaw to get back on the water. When “ice-out” occurs, you might have to break through a thin layer of ice at the boat ramp or to get to a sweet spot, but it will be worth the trouble because you’ll have your best chance to catch some of the biggest bass of the year. During most winters on this lake, the ice starts thawing and breaking up in February. Bass are usually their heaviest this time of the year, so most of the fish you catch will be chunks. The best structure to try after the thaw is a little creek channel bend. Small pockets near the river or creek channel bands are also productive areas. Bass spend the winter in the channel bends and in the pockets as well. During the first warm spell, bass move up from deeper water to brush piles that are 6 to 10 feet deep in the pockets. Look for banks on the northern side of the lake that receive the most sunlight because the water in those areas will warm faster. Key on clear water areas because it’s harder to catch bass from cold, muddy water. Boat docks are also good places to fish for ice-out bass at Lake of the Ozarks. Some bass spend the winter under docks that have deep brush piles and are near the channel bends so look for docks that are along the bends of creeks. Fish a set of docks along one bend and then move across the creek to another row of docks on the opposite channel bend. Water temperature is not really a key factor during this time of year. I have caught bass during this time by throwing a suspending stickbait in areas where there would still be ice in the pockets. Warm, sunny weather activates bass this time of year and coaxes the fish to move up shallow. Sometimes it only takes one sunny day to get the fish to move into those shallower brush piles. A small hair jig tricks plenty of bass during ice-out. Another lure to try is a shad-colored tube jig, which looks like a dying shad when it falls to the bottom. A slow fall works best now so use hair jigs and tube bait jigheads in 1/8- to 1/4-ounce sizes. Let the lures flutter into the brush piles and slowly retrieve the baits through the cover. Working suspending stickbaits with a twitch-and-pause retrieve over the tops of the brush piles also triggers strikes from bass hanging around the brush. When the lake starts to thaw and heavyweight prespawn bass start migrating to the shallows, it’s prime time to be fishing Lake of the Ozarks to catch a lunker bass. 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.
  9. Knowing the plans for preventing floods in the spring can improve your chances of catching wintertime bass on Lake of the Ozarks. AmerenMissouri annually draws down lake levels during the winter to prevent flooding in the spring, so Lake of the Ozarks anglers must adapt to the falling water to catch bass. A typical winter drawdowns usually leads to three phases that anglers must adjust to in order to keep track of bass throughout the winter and early spring. Phase One occurs when the drawdown begins and bass move from the shallows to deeper sanctuaries. Next comes Phase Two when the drawdown bottoms out and bass bunch up in certain holes during the dead of winter. Phase Three follows in early spring when the lake is still low and shoreline cover is high and dry, but bass have the urge to move shallower in search of warmer water. Here’s a look at how FLW Tour pro and Lake of the Ozarks guide Casey Scanlon tracks and catches Lake of the Ozarks bass during each phase of the winter drawdown. Phase One The first drawdown phase on Lake of the Ozarks usually starts slowly in late November or early December and then Scanlon notices the water levels drop sharply at some point. Scanlon keys on main and secondary points where bass are feeding on larger meals for winter. “Those fish are up there eating those big (gizzard) shad,” he said. During the early stages of the drawdown, Scanlon relies on a Luck E Strike Buzzbait or other topwater lures to catch bass chasing the gizzard shad. As the lake level continues to fall, bass start suspending on points and vertical structure on the main lake so Scanlon tempts these fish with a Luck E Strike RC STX Jerkbait or a 3/4-ounce spinnerbait that he slow rolls. Phase Two The guts of creeks and main lake pockets are Scanlon’s favorite targets during the bottom-out stage of the winter drawdown. He finds Lake of the Ozarks bass suspending at 8 to 10 feet over a depth of 20 feet or greater and casts his lures down the middle of the guts. “In the middle of winter, I use a (suspending) jerkbait and I am also going to throw some kind of an Alabama rig.” He throws an Alabama rig without blades in clear water on calm, sunny days but changes to a bladed version of the rig in windy or cloudy conditions. Phase Three This is the trickiest phase of the drawdown since bass want to move to warmer water in the shallows, but shallow cover is sparse and cold fronts can send bass retreating back to deeper water. Scanlon concentrates on boulders and docks in the shallows along points and bluffs in the backs of creeks. “I look for just any type of cover available on the bank and I will throw a (1/2-ounce Trophy Bass Company) jig with a big trailer to slow the fall rate down,” Scanlon said. He also throws a suspending jerkbait and a Luck E Strike G5 crankbait for bass suspended in deeper water. 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
  10. Knowing the plans for preventing floods in the spring can improve your chances of catching wintertime bass on Lake of the Ozarks. AmerenMissouri annually draws down lake levels during the winter to prevent flooding in the spring, so Lake of the Ozarks anglers must adapt to the falling water to catch bass. A typical winter drawdowns usually leads to three phases that anglers must adjust to in order to keep track of bass throughout the winter and early spring. Phase One occurs when the drawdown begins and bass move from the shallows to deeper sanctuaries. Next comes Phase Two when the drawdown bottoms out and bass bunch up in certain holes during the dead of winter. Phase Three follows in early spring when the lake is still low and shoreline cover is high and dry, but bass have the urge to move shallower in search of warmer water. Here’s a look at how FLW Tour pro and Lake of the Ozarks guide Casey Scanlon tracks and catches Lake of the Ozarks bass during each phase of the winter drawdown. Phase One The first drawdown phase on Lake of the Ozarks usually starts slowly in late November or early December and then Scanlon notices the water levels drop sharply at some point. Scanlon keys on main and secondary points where bass are feeding on larger meals for winter. “Those fish are up there eating those big (gizzard) shad,” he said. During the early stages of the drawdown, Scanlon relies on a Luck E Strike Buzzbait or other topwater lures to catch bass chasing the gizzard shad. As the lake level continues to fall, bass start suspending on points and vertical structure on the main lake so Scanlon tempts these fish with a Luck E Strike RC STX Jerkbait or a 3/4-ounce spinnerbait that he slow rolls. Phase Two The guts of creeks and main lake pockets are Scanlon’s favorite targets during the bottom-out stage of the winter drawdown. He finds Lake of the Ozarks bass suspending at 8 to 10 feet over a depth of 20 feet or greater and casts his lures down the middle of the guts. “In the middle of winter, I use a (suspending) jerkbait and I am also going to throw some kind of an Alabama rig.” He throws an Alabama rig without blades in clear water on calm, sunny days but changes to a bladed version of the rig in windy or cloudy conditions. Phase Three This is the trickiest phase of the drawdown since bass want to move to warmer water in the shallows, but shallow cover is sparse and cold fronts can send bass retreating back to deeper water. Scanlon concentrates on boulders and docks in the shallows along points and bluffs in the backs of creeks. “I look for just any type of cover available on the bank and I will throw a (1/2-ounce Trophy Bass Company) jig with a big trailer to slow the fall rate down,” Scanlon said. He also throws a suspending jerkbait and a Luck E Strike G5 crankbait for bass suspended in deeper water. 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
  11. Knowing the plans for preventing floods in the spring can improve your chances of catching wintertime bass on Lake of the Ozarks. AmerenMissouri annually draws down lake levels during the winter to prevent flooding in the spring, so Lake of the Ozarks anglers must adapt to the falling water to catch bass. A typical winter drawdowns usually leads to three phases that anglers must adjust to in order to keep track of bass throughout the winter and early spring. Phase One occurs when the drawdown begins and bass move from the shallows to deeper sanctuaries. Next comes Phase Two when the drawdown bottoms out and bass bunch up in certain holes during the dead of winter. Phase Three follows in early spring when the lake is still low and shoreline cover is high and dry, but bass have the urge to move shallower in search of warmer water. Here’s a look at how FLW Tour pro and Lake of the Ozarks guide Casey Scanlon tracks and catches Lake of the Ozarks bass during each phase of the winter drawdown. Phase One The first drawdown phase on Lake of the Ozarks usually starts slowly in late November or early December and then Scanlon notices the water levels drop sharply at some point. Scanlon keys on main and secondary points where bass are feeding on larger meals for winter. “Those fish are up there eating those big (gizzard) shad,” he said. During the early stages of the drawdown, Scanlon relies on a Luck E Strike Buzzbait or other topwater lures to catch bass chasing the gizzard shad. As the lake level continues to fall, bass start suspending on points and vertical structure on the main lake so Scanlon tempts these fish with a Luck E Strike RC STX Jerkbait or a 3/4-ounce spinnerbait that he slow rolls. Phase Two The guts of creeks and main lake pockets are Scanlon’s favorite targets during the bottom-out stage of the winter drawdown. He finds Lake of the Ozarks bass suspending at 8 to 10 feet over a depth of 20 feet or greater and casts his lures down the middle of the guts. “In the middle of winter, I use a (suspending) jerkbait and I am also going to throw some kind of an Alabama rig.” He throws an Alabama rig without blades in clear water on calm, sunny days but changes to a bladed version of the rig in windy or cloudy conditions. Phase Three This is the trickiest phase of the drawdown since bass want to move to warmer water in the shallows, but shallow cover is sparse and cold fronts can send bass retreating back to deeper water. Scanlon concentrates on boulders and docks in the shallows along points and bluffs in the backs of creeks. “I look for just any type of cover available on the bank and I will throw a (1/2-ounce Trophy Bass Company) jig with a big trailer to slow the fall rate down,” Scanlon said. He also throws a suspending jerkbait and a Luck E Strike G5 crankbait for bass suspended in deeper water. 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 This post has been promoted to an article
  12. Topwaters have long been considered lures for fishing in warm water, but a Lake of the Ozarks pro knows surface lures will trick bass—especially big bass—when the water temperatures are chilly. Whether it’s springtime when the water struggles to reach 60 degrees or fall when the water temperatures plunge into the 50s, a lure moving slowly across the surface is an easy target for even listless Lake of the Ozarks bass. So when bass are shallow in chilly water, a topwater lure remains a viable option. FLW Tour pro and Lake of the Ozarks guide Casey Scanlon throws a Heddon Zara Spook One Knocker or a Reaction Innovations Vixen in the spring when the water temperature climbs into the upper 50s and he starts seeing bass cruise the shallows of the spawning areas. He sticks with the same plugs in the fall when the water is even colder. “As opposed to the spring when the bass are still heating up, the fish are still active in the fall so when that water temperature starts dropping it seems like their activity level is still higher,” Scanlon says. “So I have caught them (on Spooks) in upper 40 water temperatures.” The local guide favors the versatility of a topwater walker in cold-water situations. “You can start it and stop it and fish it however fast you want,” Scanlon says. “You can also make it almost walk in place to where you don’t have to move the bait very far but it still has a lot of action. The other thing I like about it is when a bass misses it, if you resist the urge to jerk on the lure then, a lot of times they will come back and get on it.” A steady retrieve works best for Scanlon walking the surface plug in chilly Lake of the Ozarks waters. “In the springtime I twitch it slower but I keep a steady walk towards me,” he says. “In the fall I will fish it more erratically where I will twitch it real fast then slow it down for a few walks, the n twitch it real fast so it almost makes the lure break cadence and kind of come out of the water like a shad fleeing.” 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.
  13. 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. Savvy anglers are unsure what happens to bass during the turnover on their home lake, but they agree that the fish are affected. Some local experts think it almost affects bass like a cold front situation and disorients the fish a little bit. Before the turnover, fishing tends to improve with the cooling water conditions. During and after the turnover, however, fishing tapers off. 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. It's not that they're doing a whole lot wrong, it's just that the fish aren't biting very well at all. So 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. The turnover makes bass tougher to catch and makes them hit differently, but you can still catch them. If an angler feels uncomfortable fishing in turnover conditions, he has some options. The majority of the time you can try to avoid the turnover. 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. 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. 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. So 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. A real protected area can be real messed up for quite a while. Severe cold weather, wind and current accelerate the turnover. 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, so get to the bank and beat the shoreline. Concentrate on the shallow brush, which usually holds more active fish. If the weather conditions have been bad, get in tight to whatever cover you 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. Once you find the active fish, determine which lures and retrieves will work best. As a rule, just slow down. Sometimes it takes 10 to 12 casts to the same brush pile before a bass will strike. Fish smaller baits, such as 1/8- or 1/4-ounce crankbaits and jigs. The weather also determines lure choices. If the weather is stable, 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, 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. When the weather turns nasty, switch to a blue or black 3/8-ounce jig and a black plastic chunk in clearer water, or a black-and-chartreuse or black with bright green combination in murkier water. Flip the jig into the heaviest cover you can find. A third option is to cast a 3/8-ounce chartreuse or white spinnerbait with gold blades and a 4-inch plastic trailer. Slow roll the spinnerbait through the shallow cover. When the turnover ends, don't expect a fishing bonanza. The fishing usually improves gradually after the turn. 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.
  14. Lake of the Ozarks bass anglers need to “go with the flow” to get in on the best fishing action during September. By September, the summer heat has generated bath-water temperatures and depleted oxygen levels in the shallows of lakes and ponds throughout the state. These conditions make for some tough fishing during the month, but anglers can still catch plenty of fish at Lake of the Ozarks by seeking waters with plenty of current. When fishing the headwaters of the lake, bass anglers will discover the current in these waters create a cool, oxygen-rich environment that makes bass more aggressive feeders. So Lake of the Ozarks anglers should “go with the flow” for the best bass action at the lake during early fall. When September arrives, veteran tournament angler Mike Malone starts running up the Osage arm of the lake to catch bass. “Those fish are moving at that time and the baitfish are moving and bass get predominantly on those mud flats (on the upper Osage arm),” he says. “If you can figure out what area of that upper reach is on you are going to catch a bunch.” The Lake Ozark angler keys on the main lake flats rather than back in the creeks because current is more predominant there. “There is usually a two- to three-hour window where they turn on the water (at Truman Dam),” Malone says. “As long as there is movement to the water, those fish get positioned and are very predictable as to where they are going to be and how to catch them.” Malone usually finds bass around boat docks where the fish remain less than 4 feet deep. “I have a milk run where I might hit 30 to 40 docks up there starting at about Proctor Creek all the way up to the 88-mile marker,” he says. “Sometimes the fish are on the outside ends of the docks. If they are not running current the fish might be on the backs of the docks.” Malone’s favorite lures for throwing around the docks include a black/red flake flipping tube, black/chartreuse jig with blue plastic chunk, a 1/2-ounce white/chartreuse spinnerbait and black/chartreuse wake bait. Anglers unfamiliar with this section need to be cautious while navigating the upper lake because it contains lots of shallow mud flats on the main lake and in coves. “It’s not an area where you want to go fast if you don’t know where you are going,” Malone says. He recommends using good electronics and mapping to navigate safely in this section of the lake. 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.
  15. The heat and humidity of a summer day in Missouri make fishing a survival test rather than a relaxing time on the water. Combine the steamy weather and searing sun with rolling waves from an armada of pleasure boaters and your fishing day becomes a hot and frustrating experience. The heat, sun and boat traffic must have about the same affect on largemouth bass as well, because the fish seem reluctant to bite on busy Lake of the Ozarks during a summer day. All is not lost though if you want to catch bass during your summer vacation at one at the lake. Changing your fishing time schedule to take advantage of the night life of Lake of the Ozarks allows you to avoid the heat and recreational boat traffic and experience the best bass action of the summertime. Everything changes for the better once the sun sets on the lake. The air cools down, the pleasure boats disappear and the bass become more aggressive in the low-light conditions. Now’s the prime time to be casting to your favorite bass spot even if you can’t see it. Limited visibility can make night fishing hazardous, but you can make it a pleasurable experience by taking some precautions and carrying the proper equipment. Missouri state law requires that any fishing boat when underway must exhibit red and green sidelights that are visible for at least one mile on a dark clear night. The boat must also have an all-around white stern light that is visible for at least two miles on a dark clear night. All boats are required to use a white light visible from all directions whenever the vessel is anchored between sunset and sunrise. The best way to minimize navigation problems after dark is to scout the areas you plan to fish a couple of hours before sunset. Use your electronics to determine the structure and depth you will fish that night. Ideal summertime structure to look for on the lake includes drop-offs and river or creek channels. Sunken brush piles at depths of 10 feet or deeper make ideal starting points for a night trip. While scouting spots in the daylight, look for familiar landmarks on the bank that you will be able to find again after dark. Plan a milk run of spots and pay close attention to the route you take to each spot so it will be easier to find your way around once the sun sets. Starting at your favorite spot at sunset is another way to minimize your nocturnal movements. Special equipment you should use for nighttime tactics include flashlights and a black light that you can position on the bow of your boat. Using a black light and high visibility line in blue fluorescent or solar green hues makes strikes easier to detect since the black light illuminates your line and makes it look like a laser beam shooting through the inky darkness. Flashlights or headlamps are handy for finding tackle in the boat or tying knots. Carrying insect repellent in your boat is also recommended because mosquitoes can ruin your nocturnal outing if you leave your skin unprotected. I usually wear long pants and long-sleeve shirts to deter the mosquitoes as well. A bunch of tackleboxes and rods and reels strewn out all over the boat’s deck after dark can result in broken tackle or a quick trip overboard. So keep your boat deck clean and prevent any mishaps by picking a handful of productive lures for nocturnal bass. Minimize your lure choices to plastic worms, soft plastic creature baits, jigs and plastic trailers and spinnerbaits for your nighttime trip. Before darkness sets in, you should have your boat organized with plenty of walking space available and lights positioned in strategic locations. A moonlit night increases your visibility, but it isn’t a necessity for catching nocturnal bass. I’ve caught bass at night in the rain and in the moonlight. The type of day probably affects the night fishing more than the nighttime weather. If the day has been cloudy or rainy, the best fishing sometimes occurs during the late evening or the first couple of hours after sunset. If there has been a few weeks of real hot weather with nothing but sunshine and bluebird skies, the fish tend to bite all night long on some reservoirs. Heavy boat traffic makes the lake nearly impossible to fish during a summer day, yet it is probably one of the best lakes to fish at night. Lights from hundreds of docks and heavily developed shoreline makes it easy to see and navigate after dark and a plethora of sunken brush piles provide plenty of nocturnal haunts for bass. In the middle of summer, Skip Surbaugh of Lake of the Ozarks Guide Service, targets brush piles he has planted on the lower end of the lake from the dam to the Lodge of the Four Seasons. “I probably don’t fish as deep of brush piles as a lot of guys do,” admits Surbaugh. “I fish brush piles from 10 to 15 feet generally located close to deep water (channel drops of 25 to 40 feet). On calm nights, Surbaugh opts for dark-colored 10-inch Berkley Power Worms or 5-inch Berkley Power Hawgs that he Texas rigs with a 5/8-ounce weight. “I want the weight heavy enough that I can get the bait down into the bottom of the brush piles, so I work it real slow in the brush,” describes Surbaugh. “I like to hit every limb as I am bringing it out.” If the wind blows at night, Surbaugh switches to a black 3/4-ounce spinnerbait with a number 7 or 8 gold or black Colorado blade. He throws all of his nighttime lures on 15-pound test line. The guide believes the key to successful night fishing at Lake of the Ozarks is to make a milk run of brush piles rather than counting on one brush pile to produce several keepers. The night action here produces plenty of bass in the 5- to 6-pound range. “We actually catch some of our bigger fish at night than we do during the day,” says Surbaugh. “This lake right now is loaded with 4- to 5-pound fish.” The night life was good for Surbaugh’s clients last summer. “We would catch about 15 to 20 fish a night with about two-thirds of them being keepers,” says Surbaugh. “There were lots of nights last year where we were catching 30 to 40 fish a night with 20 keepers.” When the sun sets and the air cools, take a break from the summer heat and enjoy the bass fishing night life at the lake. 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.
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