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John Neporadny Jr.

Fall Turns on Lake of the Ozarks bass

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Getting a different perspective on how to fish your home waters can keep you from becoming stuck in a rut.

I have a bad habit of fishing the same old way and the same old spots on my home waters of Lake of the Ozarks, so when the Missouri Outdoor Communicators (MOC) met at the lake in early September and had a guide trip set up for MOC members I jumped at the opportunity. Even though I have fished the lake for more than 30 years I know I can always learn something from another local expert, especially one who gets to spend more time on the water than I do.

During the pre-conference fishing trip I was paired up with fellow MOC member Emory Styron and Coast Guard-licensed guide Scott Melton for a morning of bass fishing.  I had been catching a few 3- and 4-pound bass the last week of August flipping a finesse jig tipped with a flashy, flappy trailer (June bug Berkley Havoc Pit Boss and Havoc Devil Spear) to shallow docks in the back of creeks, but I could only catch one keeper per creek.  I was hoping Melton could show me how to catch a limit of fish without having to run for miles from creek to creek.

September is usually one of the toughest months to catch bass on the Lake of the Ozarks since the fish tend to move out of the brush and start to scatter and suspend with the balls of shad. A storm producing lightning and hail struck the night before and the morning of our trip featured calm weather and bluebird skies—the perfect recipe for a tough day of fishing.

Melton took us on a milk run of some of his best sunken brush piles and showed me a jig tactic that produced hefty bass for him throughout the summer along rocky banks.   Melton used a heavy swivel-style jighead and a Larew Biffle Bug that he constantly reeled like a crankbait along bottom. I had fished this technique before with some limited success, but I plan on trying it more often next summer after finding out about Melton’s catches on the rig.

Despite the tough conditions, I still managed to catch a 3 1/2-pound largemouth and a smaller bass on a jig flipped to the shady area of a dock. Emory had some bites on a shaky head with a Senko-style worm but kept missing on the hookset.

Once October arrives at Lake of the Ozarks, bass fishing turns on and continues to get better all the way to Thanksgiving.  Bass follow the shad into the creeks and coves throughout this 98-mile lake and can be caught on a variety of lures in the shallows.  Throwing a buzz bait along slab rock banks is my favorite tactic for catching Lake of the Ozarks bass in late October and all of November.  That is one rut I don’t mind getting stuck in on my home waters. A swim bait ran along the same banks also produces if the fish ignore or short-strike the buzz bait.

If you enjoy watching bass smash a buzz bait, try fishing Lake of the Ozarks this fall. For more information on lodging and guide services, visit www.funlake.com or call 1-800-FUN-LAKE.

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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I’ve fished with the swing jig in pre- spawn down at TR and have had great success, as with everything else, right time right place, I generally throw a 7/16  or heavier depending on wind and depth I’m fishing. 

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