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John Neporadny Jr.

Tracking Lake of the Ozarks transition bass

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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.


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