When the holiday season arrives at Lake of the Ozarks, even the fish get in on the holiday feasting. Some of the best fishing of the year occurs on this Missouri reservoir during November and December as largemouth and spotted bass, crappie and white bass feast on forage in preparation for winter. As the water cools down, the fish become more active and move shallower. Recreational boat traffic has diminished and fishing pressure is minimal since many anglers have turned to hunting during the late fall/early winter period.
The crappie are schooled a lot during those months so I have a tendency when it gets cooler to keep fishing shallower and shallower,î says Coast-Guard licensed guide Terry Blankenship. ìNormally the crappie during this time are very aggressive and it seems to be an excellent time to catch big numbers of fish. Typically you can catch more fish out of a spot more than any other time of the year.
During November Blankenship relies on a 1/16-ounce jig for a faster descent rate when he is shooting the lure to docks or casting to brush piles. When the water temperature drops into the low 40s in December he switches to a 1/32-ounce jig for a slower fall and tries more vertical jigging then. Blankenship matches his jighead with a Bobby Garland Baby Shad or a 3-inch Slab Slayer in blue ice, electric chicken or bayou booger hues.
A spinnerbait and buzz bait are Blankenshipís top lure choices for bass in November when the fish are feasting on shad in the coves. He runs the buzz bait or wakes the spinnerbait over big rocks along the flats of the larger creek coves. As the water temperature continues to cool down during November, Blankenship starts to target brush piles at depths of 10 to 18 feet and slow rolls a 3/8-ounce spinnerbait (double willowleaf blades with white-and-chartreuse skirt) through the cover.
When the water temperature drops below 45 degrees in December, Blankenship keys on steeper banks and cuts in the coves close to the main channel. He catches both bass and crappie on this structure by slowly twitching a suspending stickbait that has a tint of blue, purple or chartreuse on the lure. It seems like blue is an excellent color to have available for both bass and crappie on this lake, Blankenship says.
White bass gang up on wind-blown points along the main lake throughout November. One of my favorite tactics for catching whites in the shallows then is to continually jerk a 4-inch Rebel Minnow (black back/chrome sides). The stickbait also triggers vicious strikes from heavyweight hybrid stripers lurking in the shallows.
Popping a topwater chugger and jig combination usually produces better numbers of white bass for me along the gravel points. I remove the front hook of the chugger to prevent line fouling and then tie about a 2-foot trailer line on the rear hook. I complete the rig by tying a white 1/16-ounce marabou jig on the trailer line.
The white bass action usually ends by the beginning of December when the water cools into the low 50s and the fish move out to school in deeper water.