Articles by John Neporadny Jr. - February
Nasty Weather Pattern Produces Hefty Bass On
Lake of the Ozarks
by John Neporadny Jr.
Those cold, nasty days in February can produce some of the heaviest stringers of
the year while jerking a suspended stick bait on Lake of the Ozarks.
"All the days I can remember in February where we've caught a lot of fish
were always the nastiest days where you would almost freeze to death," says
Marty McGuire, a Camdenton, Mo., angler who has finished in the money in B.A.S.S.
invitational's held on his home lake and the
owner of Marty's Marine in Osage Beach, Mo. While some fish can be caught on
McGuire's suspending stickbait technique on sunny days, his pattern produces its
best numbers of fish and biggest bass in cold, windy and snowy weather.
Water temperature also plays a key role in this pattern. The water temperature
varies from 39 to 45 degrees in February. "The fish seem
to be really biting on this technique when the water temperature hits about 42
degrees," McGuire says.
Water clarity is also important, so McGuire concentrates on the clear water
areas around the dam and in the Gravois arm during this time of year. When the
water starts to warm in March, the technique then works anywhere from the dam to
the 35- or 40-mile mark of the Osage arm.
A low lake level, which usually occurs in February, helps pull the fish out of
any shallow cover and position them on the deeper structure, making bass easier
to pinpoint. Even though the fish are near deep water, McGuire believes 90
percent of the time the bass will be suspended less than 10 feet deep over the
The most productive structures for this pattern are bluff ends, pockets in bluff
lines and points. McGuire has also taken bass suspended over brush piles in 10
to 12 feet of water or hiding in the shade under docks along the main channel.
"You have to pretty well stick to the main channel," he advises.
While his boat is sitting over 60 to 70 feet of water, McGuire throws his
stickbait to bass that are within 5 to 8 feet of the surface. "Most of the
time you can find them in schools where they are out there trying to get a bite
of shad every once in a while," says McGuire. He knows he has found a
promising spot when he sees dying baitfish fluttering to the surface. The
suspending stickbait imitates the action of a dying shad.
McGuire likes to throw a stickbait with black back, yellow and green sides and
chartreuse belly or a ghost or shad-color model. He prefers using a medium diver
(4 1/2 inch) over a magnum model (5 1/2 inch). "You can catch bigger fish
on the magnum, but you can catch a lot of 4- and 5-pound fish on that
medium-size stickbait," McGuire says "Most of the time when you catch
4- or 5-pound fish you're doing okay."
McGuire works his stickbait on a fairly stiff 6 1/2-foot spinning rod and a
spinning reel filled with 8-pound test line. He feels he can throw his lure
farther into the wind with the spinning tackle. "The farther you can throw
at the start, the better chance you have of finding the fish." Long casts
allow him to position his boat farther from the shoreline, which becomes
necessary since the fish will be anywhere from the bank out to 100 yards off the
An extremely slow retrieve works best since the water is cold and the
fish aren't in a chasing mood. "Some guys say the retrieve is slow enough
to where you can stop and drink a soda," McGuire says. "The slower you
fish it, the better chance a bass has to eat it." McGuire never jerks the
lure; he just slowly pulls it down to the strike zone and then lets it sit for
awhile before pulling again. "Ninety-nine percent of the time the fish will
hit the bait when it is sitting still," he says. Feeling resistance on your
line when you pull the lure signals a strike.
Fishing on a cold, miserable day in February might be well worth the trouble if
you can pull that stickbait through a school of heavyweight Lake of the Ozarks
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 www.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.