Expert Articles by John
Neporadny Jr. -
Lake of the Ozarks Docks are
Bass Magnets in the Fall
by John Neporadny Jr.
As massive schools of shad surround them, black
bass build up an insatiable appetite in the fall at the Lake of the Ozarks.
During October and November, bass gorge on
these baitfish even
after they've filled their bellies. While some
smaller bass feed by chasing and busting through the schools of shad, a bigger
bass tends to lurk under the cover of boat docks and pounces on any baitfish
that enters its ambush zone. When weather conditions are ideal, you can catch
plenty of bass on a variety of lures as they chase schools of baitfish, but the
most consistent way to catch bass in the fall is to target boat docks. A local
expert who targets docks for consistent fall bass action is Chad Brauer, Osage
Beach, Mo., a touring pro angler, former guide on the Lake of the Ozarks and son
of famed professional angler Denny Brauer. Since the lake contains a multitude
of boat houses, Chad Brauer keys on certain types of docks that hold bass better
in the fall.
"I like a dock with white Styrofoam underneath
because of all the types of foam, it seems to draw the best algae, which
attracts invertebrates and those invertebrates bring in the baitfish," says
Brauer. He looks for older docks that have several posts or piers under the
walkway and possibly some brush sunk underneath the floating structure. Location
also plays a key role in selecting which docks to try in the fall. Brauer opts
for main-lake piers, which he believes many anglers overlook as they head for
the coves in the fall. He tries main-lake docks on the flats where the front
ends of the floating cover sit over depths of 10 feet or less.
Weather and water temperature determines where
fish will be positioned on a dock during autumn. Lake of the Ozarks bass remain
in the brush under the docks during the summer. As the water cools in the fall,
bass start suspending under the dock's foam. "Rather than moving up towards the
bank, they just more right up underneath the docks," Brauer says. The foam
becomes perfect cover for bass as they wait for schools of shad to swim by the
docks. Later in the fall, bass move into the shallows behind the docks where
Brauer catches them around the walkway posts.
The dropping water temperature eventually
triggers the lake turnover, which can make fishing tough around any type of
cover. "I think the fish tend to scatter more and that makes them harder to
catch," says Brauer. "The fish will still be around the docks, but something
happens to them and makes them goofy." He believes shallow docks produce best
during this phenomenon since they have less of a depth range for bass to scatter
than docks in deeper water.
Weather fronts also cause the bass to relocate
on a dock throughout the fall. Brauer notices bass move to deeper parts of the
dock when a cold front passes through. If the weather turns warm again, the fish
migrate back to the shallow end. "You have to experiment every time you go out
because sometimes inexplicably they move to the other end of the dock and
sometimes they are scattered out all over," he says. Bass also tend to position
differently on windy or calm days When the wind blows, Brauer targets the side
where waves crash into the docks and push baitfish toward the foam.
Since bass frequently change hiding spots
almost daily, Brauer covers all the sections of the floating cover until he
discovers which sections are holding fish that day. "I have a lot of success
right on the very end and right in the very back (the corners) of the docks," he
says. When bass suspend under the foam Brauer selects lures that stay in the
fish's strike zone longer. His favorite fall dock techniques include running a
spinnerbait just below the surface or swimming a slow-falling jig and pork chunk
next to the foam.
The swimming jig technique requires matching a
jig with a pork chunk or plastic trailer buoyant enough to slow the lure's
descent. Brauer usually starts with a 3/8-ounce jig and later switches to a
1/2-ounce model if he wants a lure with a larger profile. To give the jigs more
buoyancy, Brauer attaches either a pork chunk or a plastic crawfish. Black and
blue are his favorite fall colors for the jig-and-craw combination, while an
all-white selection works best for his jig and pork. He retrieves both
combinations with 20-pound test line, which is heavy enough to give the lures
increased buoyancy and abrasion-resistant for fishing over dock cables or
Swimming the jig requires a faster-than-normal
retrieve. "The bigger pork or the bigger plastic craw gives the lure a little
more buoyancy and helps it swim right below that foam a little better," Brauer
says. "I use a pumping motion just to cover a little more depth range. Once you
narrow down as to how deep the fish are then you don't have to pump the lure as
much." A slow-rolling pump of the jig also gives the lure more action as it
swims along the foam. Brauer also runs a spinnerbait about 1 to 2 feet below the
surface to coax bass out from under the docks. If you can't find bass chasing
shad on the surface this fall at the Lake of the Ozarks, throw to the docks to
save your day on the water.
For information on lodging and other facilities
at the Lake of the Ozarks or to receive a free 152-page 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.