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John Neporadny Jr.

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  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Even though the trees were cleared by workers during the construction of Bagnell Dam in 1931, the Lake of the Ozarks now contains plenty of fish-attracting brush. SuLake of the Ozarks Full of Manmade Fish Attractors nken brush piles abound throughout the lake, thanks to resort and property owners and other anglers who construct and sink the fish attractors. The brush piles are mainly put in to attract crappie, but they also serve as cover for largemouth bass. Groups of resort owners on the Niangua arm of the lake have ben sinking brush piles for years to attract customers to their area. Sinking brush piles is more of an individual effort on other arms of the lake though. These are more secretive projects done by dock owners or anglers wanting to establish their own honey holes for crappie or bass. But since everyone has the right to fish the lake, these sunken treasures are available to you as well if you can find them. One crappie fishing expert who knows how to find sunken brush piles on Lake of the Ozarks is Guy Winters of Camdenton, Mo. The most obvious places to find brush in Lake of the Ozarks are the docks. There are plenty to choose from on this lake, but not all docks have crappie beds. "You can read the docks to tell whether or not it has a brush pile around it," Winters says. The best indicator on the dock is a well-kept fish-cleaning station. "That tells you there are fishermen who live there," says Winters. Other signs include a live box and minnow buckets on the dock. Once you find a likely looking dock, then you have to determine where the brush is located along it. "That's where a locator on your trolling motor is valuable," says Winters. "It only takes a few minutes to run around that dock with the trolling motor to find where the brush is." Remember that the brush will most likely be within casting distance from the dock. If you don't have a depth finder on your boat, there are other ways to tell where the brush is located along the dock. Corners of docks and inside the dock wells are always good spots to look for brush. Rod holders on the docks are usually positioned near the brush pile and sometimes you'll see a rod that has a line out with a bobber, which is usually floating over the top of the brush. Winters notes that some dock owners also have a light hanging off the end of their docks, which is positioned over the top of the brush for night fishing. Another key to finding the location of brush piles is to look at the direction chairs on the dock are facing. "If the chairs point towards the well, that's where the brush is at; if they point the other way, then the brush is on the outside of the dock," Winters says. A shallow dock will be unproductive most of the time, even if it has plenty of brush near it. The best year-round docks are either in or near deep water. Even a deep-water dock with sparse cover will produce more often than a shallow dock with lots of brush. Sunken brush piles lie in other spots on the lake, but these are the most difficult beds to find. Some type of depth finder is essential when looking for these sunken trees. "I wouldn't fish without one," says Winters. "It's one of the most important tools a fisherman can have. Any cove I'm not familiar with, I just leave my locator on and normally try to keep the boat in 12 to 15 feet of water." Winters concentrates his search on the channel side of the cove or the main lake. The most likely places to hold sunken brush are pea gravel banks and bluffs. Any type of rocky or gravel pocket is also worth investigating. When the lake level is low, any brush found 14 to 15 feet deep produces best in the spring, fall and winter, the crappie expert says. Telltale signs along the bank also help you find brush piles. Look for a stump, which usually indicates the rest of the tree is somewhere below you. Sunken small sycamore trees have a different indicator. "There won't be a stump," says Winters. "There will be a piece of trunk standing up about 2 1/2 to 3 feet tall with a bunch of little limbs growing out of it. That's one of the signs that a lot of people overlook." Also watch for old, black telephone cables running down the bank which are usually tied to brush piles. This method of sinking trees is usually done along bluffs or other areas close to a river or creek channel. While the Lake of the Ozarks appears to be barren of fish-attracting cover on the surface, underneath lies thousands of brush-pile condos for crappie and 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. 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.
  8. On May 23, 1997, Governor Mel Carnahan signed a bill designating the channel catfish as the official fish of Missouri. The governor’s choice was a wise pick considering channel catfish can be found in nearly all waters throughout the state including Lake of the Ozarks. Blue and flathead catfish are also abundant in the lake so Lake of the Ozarks anglers have plenty of opportunities to catch some type of catfish, especially in the summertime. Fishing for Mr. Whiskers in June can be great or tough since catfish can be in various stages of the spawn throughout the month and are more concerned with building or protecting nests than eating. Drift fishing is the best way for the clients of Lake of the Ozarks guide Jack Uxa to catch catfish in June. Uxa sets up his clients with 7-foot medium-heavy spinning rods and spinning reels filled with 30-pound SpiderWire line. He has his clients drift with a magnum drop shot rig of a 6/0 Gamakatsu octopus hook followed by a 1 1/2-foot drop line tied to a 1-ounce barrel weight. The guide baits his hooks with chunks of freshly cut bluegill, green sunfish or shad. Finding baitfish with his side-imaging unit is the key for Uxa in setting up a successful drift. Since baitfish tend to roam, Uxa checks out flats or points on the main lake and in coves. He prefers drifting areas that have consistent depth, usually in the 20- to 35-foot range. Uxa favors drifting the middle section of the lake from the Hurricane Deck Bridge down to the toll bridge. His drifts during June produce “some bonus channels” but mostly blue cats in the 3- to 5-pound class. “You never know what you are going to catch though,” he says. “Sometimes you can catch 20-, 30- or 40-pounders.” Limb-lining along bluffs and channel swing banks with live crawfish, green sunfish or large goldfish works best for bigger flathead cats. Anglers can also catch flatheads tight-lining with a big wad of nightcrawlers other other live baits. Tight-lining off of docks is a productive tactic for catching channel catfish throughout the summer. Productive baits for channel cats include live green sunfish, cut bait, prepared baits and nightcrawlers. For information on lodging 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.
  9. John Neporadny Jr.

    Lake of the Ozarks Topwater Largemouths

    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 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.
  10. Find a shallow brush pile and drop an anchor. Cast out a couple of minnows with bobbers and start hauling in crappie. Springtime crappie fishing used to be that easy, but heavy fishing pressure has caused many anglers to change tactics. Prime spawning spots get worked over daily. If you're the first angler to dunk some minnows at one of these spots, you have a chance to catch some fish. But if you arrive after the area's been visited by four or five other boats, your chances diminish drastically. This trend has led some anglers to adopt bass fishing's run-and-gun philosophy of moving around to several spots and firing off a couple of casts in each area. Aggressive fish can be taken this way, but complicating the situation are detractions such as high pressure weather fronts and falling water levels. During these conditions crappie tend to leave the shallows or cling to cover and develop a case of lockjaw. There are some techniques to overcome tough conditions you face during the crappie spawning cycle at Lake of the Ozarks. You can track down fish in three different stages of the crappie's procreation cycle. The stages are pre-pre-spawn, pre-spawn and spawn. In the pre-pre-spawn, the fish suspend in schools along the mouths of creeks and coves. The fish will suspend at various depths depending on the weather. On warm, sunny days, the fish will be up higher. Crappie in the first stage are least affected by weather conditions and falling water levels since they reside in deep water (20 to 30 feet). But they can still be hard to find and even more difficult to catch Your electronics make the search much easier. Watch your graph and keep a marker buoy in hand while cruising along potential staging areas. When you find a school of crappie, drop a buoy and start fishing over it. Either fish vertically over the school or use your trolling motor and the wind to drift your lure through the mass of crappie. Keep track of the school and determine the depth of the fish of fish by constantly watching the fish finder on the bow of your boat. After determining the depth of the greatest concentration of fish, set your lure at that depth to keep it in striking range. After catching a fish, work the area thoroughly because you have a good chance to catch some more. When you have that many fish together, some of them are going to hit. If you're lucky enough to be out there when they're feeding, you can catch one about every time you drop your line in. To increase your odds, use a dual jig setup, which sometimes results in catching two fish at one time. Tie on a plastic-skirted jig with a 1/32-ounce head first, then adds a 1/16th or 1/8th-ounce plastic-skirted jig of a different color 18 inches to 2 feet below the first lure. The selection of jig colors depends on water clarity. In clear water, select bright colors such as yellow or fluorescents. The best hues for murky water include red or purple. The first phase of the spawning migration usually lasts one to two weeks. During stage two (pre-spawn), the crappie move back into the coves and closer to the bank. They're not actually in the spawning beds yet; they just relate close to them. The fish will be staging 12 to 16 feet deep. Some will be suspended and others will be moving in and out of the shallows checking on spawning conditions. Crappie in the second stage tend to be more moody. Let the fish tell you how to fish for them because sometimes they want the jig held perfectly still and other times they'll want a horsehead-type jig with a blade on it reeled steadily. You should try different colors and different retrieve speeds until you find what triggers the fish. High barometric pressure or cold fronts push the fish into deeper water. You have to slow your presentation down and stick it right in front of their nose then. During these periods, you might have to resort to vertical jigging and drifting methods or a "dead fall" technique. When you cast and retrieve, the jig moves a lot faster than it does on a dead fall. The "dead fall" method resembles a light-tackle version of bass fishing's flipping technique. Trade in your dual jigs for a single 1/16th-ounce jig then. Before flipping, measure out about 10 to 12 feet of line. Flipping the jig propels it to the shallows pulling along the unspooled line. A longer rod helps keep slack out of your line and gives you a better feel of the lure as it falls back towards the boat. Most of the time, you impart little or no action to the lure as it drops. The slow-falling jig tempts crappie into investigating the intruder that has moved into their domain. Since fish don't have hands, the only way a fish can tell what something is, is to swim up and grab hold of it with their mouth. When you feel the fish need coaxing, try twitching the lure to trigger a fish into hitting. Crappie think it's trying to get away or is injured and other times they hit it out of curiosity more than out of a desire for food. Using the "dead fall" method, you can catch fish that are suspended when the lure sinks and also take fish on the bottom as the jig drags along after it has fallen back toward the boat. Sometimes you can let the jig drag along the bottom while flipping out another line. By keeping track of both lines you can catch fish cruising in the shallows and the crappie staging in the deeper water next to the spawning bank. Catching crappie gets easier when the fish move into the spawn stage because the fish hit at anything that moves into their bedding area. When the fish are spawning, they're not really feeding, they're protecting their territory. They grab hold of your bait and try to get it out of there. The spawning period offers the best opportunity to catch fish shallow, but the fishing can be spotty at times. One day you'll work along the bank and load up the livewell, but the next day its as if the fish disappeared. Remember that not all the fish move to the bank at one time, and there will be crappie in the 10- to 12-foot range near by. If you work the shore and don't catch any fish on the beds, back up a little bit. There will be fish out a little bit deeper from where you caught them the day before spawning. Probing the deeper water can also result in catching larger crappie. If you continually catch small fish along the bank, turn your boat around and start working the same area in a little deeper water. Bigger fish usually spawn first and they usually spawn deeper. When the fish establish themselves in the shallows, they usually stay put. Once it gets to where conditions are right, it's hard to keep them from spawning. Rather than abandon the shallows during high pressure or cold fronts, the crappie will burrow into the thickest cover they can find. Since casting to these areas usually results in your lure becoming a brush pile decoration, flipping becomes the most effective way to haul the reluctant fish out of the cover. Look for the best looking cover available along the spawning bank. The bigger fish always get the choicest spawning and feeding spots. If you fail to catch a fish or take only small fish along the outer edges of the cover, flip your jig into the middle of the brush where you can usually catch slab-size crappie. If your favorite spawning bank fails to produce this spring, remember that the fish are still there and can be caught by slowing down your presentation and maybe fishing a little deeper. 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.
  11. John Neporadny Jr.

    Lake of the Ozarks’ Hot Bass Fishing

    Spring provides some of the hottest bass fishing action of the year and probably the best chance for catching that once-in-a-lifetime lunker at Lake of the Ozarks. The action heats up first in the tributary sections of the lake such as the Gravois, Grand Glaize and Niangua arms and then spreads throughout the rest of the lake as the spring weather continues to warm and the hours of daylight increase. My home lake always has a good population of largemouth bass because it consistently has stable water levels in the spring which insures good reproduction every year. Electroshocking sampling by MDC Fisheries Biologist Greg Stoner indicated that his catch rate per hour of legal-size bass (15 inches or longer) has remained about the same for the last five years. The MDC relies on a metric known as RSD15 which is the percentage of legal size largemouth sampled during electroshocking. During a recent spring electroshocking on the Grand Glaize arm the RSD15 for largemouth bass was 20 percent. “One out of five fish is good,” Stoner said. “There were fair numbers of 4- and 5-pounders (in the sampling) and fewer 6-pounders and a 7-pounder every once in a while but nothing over that. We are never going to produce loads of 7- and 8-pound fish.” March is a prime time for catching heavyweight prespawn bass moving out of their winter sanctuaries to the spawning banks. Alabama rigs, suspending stickbaits and slow-rolling spinnerbaits are the best choices for catching these fish along chunk rock transition banks. Running a Storm Lures Wiggle Wart in a crawfish hue along pea gravel banks in the coves is one of the most effective ways to catch Lake of the Ozarks bass in early April. Twitching soft plastic jerkbaits in the shallow pockets and dragging Carolina-rigged plastic lizards along the sides and in front of boat docks also tricks bass during the late stages of the prespawn. The spawn traditionally starts in mid-April and lasts until the first week of May. Sure signs of the bass spawn at Lake of the Ozarks are a full moon and dogwood trees blooming. During the spawn try a variety of soft plastics including lizards, tubes, finesse worms, craws, stickworms and jerkbaits in green pumpkin or watermelon hues in the clear water or black, blue and dark red colors in murky water. The moon phase is also a key to determining when bass are spawning on the lake. Some of the biggest bass in the Lake of the Ozarks might spawn on a full moon in March but most bass throughout the lake will spawn around the full moons in April or May if the water temperature is right (usually in the mid-60s to low 70s). The increasing hours of daylight in the spring also triggers bass into nesting. Many sources such as calendars and solunar charts in fishing magazines show the moon phase for each month. Weather apps for mobile phones are another good source for finding the moon phases. 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.
  12. While cursed by many anglers, recreational boat traffic is a blessing in disguise for bass at the Lake of the Ozarks. "Bass don't get any fishing pressure here in the summertime," says 1997 BASS Masters Classic champion and FLW pro Dion Hibdon, who started guiding on this central Missouri lake before he even got his driver's license. "We get very little fishing pressure even during the spawn because most of the bass spawn in May and a lot of the big boats are already out by then." When balmy weather arrives in May, the fleets of cabin cruisers, off-shore racing boats, pleasure boats, house boats and jet skis churn the waters and chase bass anglers off the lake. Hibdon believes this lack of fishing pressure helps bass recuperate from the spawn and protect their fry, which increases the survival rate of young bass. "The boat traffic then gives those young bass a good start and it shows," the Stover, Mo., angler says. " We have just as good of a bass population as any lake in the country." Constructed during the Great Depression, 54,000-acre Lake of the Ozarks was the largest man-made lake when it officially opened May 30, 1931. Fed by the Osage and Niangua rivers, the reservoir can be divided into three distinct sections. The lower end near Bagnell Dam typifies a highland reservoir with its deep, clear water. The mid-lake section still has steep banks, but the water turns stained. As you move up the Osage and Niangua arms, you run into typical river conditions of shallow, dirty water and lay-downs scattered along the banks. "The lake has an extremely good river system that is partly current-oriented," says Hibdon. Bass can be caught 2 to 3 feet deep year-round in the riverine sections of the lake. Bass-holding structure throughout the lake includes creek and river channel bends, bluffs, points and flats. Most of the banks consist of either chunk rock or pea gravel. Potential bass cover vanished when developers removed most of the timber before the lake was filled. But bass found new havens when boat docks spread over the impoundment. "That's kind of the ultimate cover," says Hibdon. "You can get a bait down through grass or brush, but there is absolutely no way you can fish a boat dock completely. Docks also have lots of places for bass fry to hide behind and get bigger." Docks usually have another piece of man-made cover nearby. "Every boat dock has a little dab of brush around it," says Hibdon. Thousands of docks dot the lake, but certain ones produce more bass. The pre-spawn (March and April) rates as Hibdon's best time to catch quality bass and numbers of fish. The whole lake produces consistent action in the late spring and throughout the summer, Hibdon says. During early summer, the touring pro relies on shad-pattern crankbaits to catch bass roaming along points or 7- and 8-inch plastic worms for fish holding in brush less than 10 feet deep. He prefers a motor oil worm in the clear water and black or tequila sunrise worm in the stained sections of the lake. Later in the summer, Hibdon works a 10-inch plastic worm or a deep-diving crankbait through the brush. The boat traffic drives bass 15 to 20 feet deep on the lower end of the lake. You can catch bass in shallower brush the farther you move up the rivers. The summer heat and increased boat traffic turn bass into nocturnal feeders. Night fishing is excellent on the Lake of the Ozarks from the end of June through September on the lower end of the lake. A five-fish limit weighing more than 20 pounds is sometimes required to win local weeknight tournaments running 3 1/2 hours. A black spinnerbait worked through the brush produces at night through June. Later in the summer, local anglers switch to a 10-inch plastic worm which they crawl along the rocky bottom or through brush on main and secondary points. The lake is an ideal spot to combine a fishing trip with a family vacation. Nestled in the foothills of the Ozarks, the lake's 1,150 miles of shoreline and its surrounding communities draw more than 3 million visitors a year to partake in the area's limitless recreational opportunities. Water sports include swimming at beaches and pools at the area resorts, motels or condominiums, waterskiing, parasailing, and boating. Full-service marinas rent speedboats, houseboats, pontoons, jet skis, fishing boats, paddleboats and sailboats. Other recreation available in the area includes golf, horseback riding, tennis, hiking, bowling and trap shooting. Numerous restaurants, ranging from fast-food to gourmet, are scattered throughout the lake area, including several eateries located on the lake with access by land or water. Many lodging facilities are available ranging from cabins and condominiums to hotels, motels and luxury resorts. The lake also has plenty of public campgrounds and tent and trailer campsites in the Lake of the Ozarks State Park. The 17,203-acre park, the largest in the Missouri park system, also has two free swimming beaches, boat launching facilities, boat rentals and hiking trails. Tourists also visit Ha Ha Tonka State Park to view the area's scenic valley, high bluffs, rocky slopes and the ruins of Ha Ha Tonka castle, a European-style mansion built in 1922 but gutted 20 years later by a fire. Another tourist attraction is the mile-long area near the dam known as "The Strip." This area houses boutiques, craft, souvenirs and T-shirt shops, restaurants, arcades and amusements for the whole family. Families can also be entertained at the lake's amusement centers such as Big Surf Water Park, Big Shot Fun Park, Miner Mike's Adventure Zone and the area's numerous miniature golf courses and go-kart race tracks. Shoppers can visit the Factory Outlet Village in Osage Beach or other craft and antique shops around the lake. The area also hosts a variety of festivals and special events throughout the year and offers traditional Ozark-style music shows. Scheduled shows normally run from April through October with Christmas shows in November and December. The Lake of the Ozarks is the only tourist destination in the United States with four show caves within 30 miles of each other. Guided tours are available at Bridal Cave, Jacob's Cave Fantasy World Caverns and Ozark Caverns. There's enough attractions and recreational activities at the Lake of the Ozarks to keep your whole family entertained during a summer vacation. The highlight of your trip though will be the early morning topwater action or nocturnal thrills of fighting a hefty bass burrowed in a brush pile. 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 Bassmaster Magazine)
  13. During those halcyon days of bass fishing in the 1960s, the bucktail jig and pork split tail eel was one of the deadliest combos for Lake of the Ozarks bass. Now the bucktail and other animal hair jigs have been replaced by flipping, casting and finesse jigs adorned with silicone or living rubber skirts and various soft plastic chunks, craws and grubs serve as substitutes for the pork eel. Despite being replaced for most bass fishing applications, the venerable hair jig still shines in cold-water situations for FLW star Guido Hibdon on his home lake. The Lake of the Ozarks pro has tried deer hair in the past, but has found that the best material for his hair jig comes from black bears. A co-angler from West Virginia has stocked up Hibdon with plenty of bear hair, which he ties on a 1/8 – or 3/16-ounce ball or banana-shaped jighead. Hibdon used to attach a pork split tail eel as a trailer for his hair jig, but now he tips the jig with either a black 3-inch Luck “E” Strike Grub or the tail section of a black plastic worm. The hair jig shines for Hibdon whenever the Lake of the Ozarks is at its coldest point during the winter. “I have thrown it up on the edge of ice and whenever it would fall off and hit the bottom the fish would get it,” recalls Hibdon. “You can fish it in mighty cold water.” Since his hair jig best mimics a crawfish, Hibdon throws the lure along rocks where bass forage on the crustaceans even in the coldest water. Ledges and bluffs in the 15- to 18-foot range are Hibdon’s favorite places to work the jig, and if he has to fish deeper, he will switch to a different tactic. While slowly reeling the jig along the bottom, Hibdon tries to keep the lure bumping into the rocks. “I move it 2 or 3 feet and then make a little hop with it,” Hibdon describes. “The majority of the fish will hit it on that hop. I think they are following it around and when you hop that jig it seems like that is when they really get after it.” Hibdon casts his hair jig on a 6 1/2-foot medium action spinning rod with a fast tip and a spinning reel filled with 8-pound fluorocarbon line. For information on lodging 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. 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, AndersonBay, 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 OzarksState 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 AndersonBay 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.
  15. 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, AndersonBay, 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 OzarksState 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 AndersonBay 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. This post has been promoted to an article
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