Expert Articles by John
Neporadny Jr. -
Set Your Schedule For A Lake
of the Ozarks Fishing Trip
by John Neporadny Jr.
The Lake of the Ozarks has always been
recognized as a great vacation spot, but few of those visitors know the lake
rates as one of the best year-round fishing spots in Missouri.
While working sports shows and guiding, I have
heard many people say they only fish the lake during their summer vacation,
which means they usually miss out on some of the best fishing the lake has to
offer. To help you plan a trip to the Lake of the Ozarks, I have compiled the
following fishing calendar for the lake. The calendar lists fishing patterns
each month for black bass, white bass and crappie based on my experiences and
information I've gathered while working on articles with other guides and local
experts. It also gives suggestions on which lures and tackle works best for each
pattern so you can stock up on the essentials before your trip.
Here's a look at how to catch fish each month
at the Lake of the Ozarks.
Crappie fishing is the best bet this time of
year with heated docks offering the most comfortable way to catch them. Try
minnows or plastic-skirted tube jigs with 1/16- to 1/32-ounce jigheads and 4- to
6-pound test line on ultralight tackle. Bass can be taken on weighted Rattlin'
Rogues (clown color, blue-and-chrome, black-and-chrome or fire tiger) along main
and secondary chunk rock points with 8- to 10-pound line and medium-action
bait-cast or spinning tackle. Some fish can also caught with Fat Gitzits or
plastic grubs on 1/4-ounce jigheads and spinning tackle with 6- to 8-pound test
Black bass continue to bite on the weighted
stick baits, tube jigs or plastic grubs, but start to move shallower on the
points or into the pockets close to the points. Crappie also can be taken from
the heated docks or in brush piles 15 to 20 feet deep along the main and
secondary points or in shallower brush piles of pockets on sunny days. Tube jigs
in yellow-and-white, red-and-chartreuse or clear-and-silver flake with
1/16-ounce jigheads produce best.
This is your best chance to catch a big bass
when the lunkers stage on the chunk rock banks during the prespawn. The weighted
stick baits still produce best early in the month, then when the water
temperature climbs above 45 degrees, switch to a crawfish-color Wiggle Wart
crankbait. Crappie also move into their prespawn staging areas in brush piles 10
to 15 feet deep near pea gravel banks. A few days of warm weather will bring the
fish into shallower brush, where they can be taken on a tube jig set 4 feet
below a bobber.
A few white bass start showing up at the mouths
of the larger creeks where they can be caught on Roostertails or small
crankbaits with 4- to 6-pound line and ultralight tackle.
This is the prime month to fish for all three
species. Early in the month, bass move to the pea gravel flats and bite a
Carolina-rigged plastic lizard or finesse worm. The fish move to the shallows to
spawn later in the month and are vulnerable to a variety of lures including 1/4-
to 3/8-ounce jigs and number 11 pork frogs, Slug-Gos, plastic lizards and worms,
double-tail plastic grubs or tube jigs. Throw the soft plastic lures on spinning
tackle with 8- to 10-pound line, and flip or pitch the jig and pork frog on
bait-casting equipment with 14- to 25-pound test.
Crappie move to the pea gravels banks to spawn
and can be found close to any shallow cover. A tube jig with a 1/32-ounce
jighead produces best or jigs set about 1 to 2 feet below bobbers is another
effective way to catch these spawning fish. White bass move into the creeks to
spawn where they are taken on Roostertails, fire tiger Rapalas or tube jigs.
Bass continue to spawn along the pea gravel
banks. One of the most productive ways to catch bass during this time is to skip
a tube jig with a 1/32-ounce jighead under the cables behind a dock. Topwater
lures such as buzz baits, Zara Spooks, chuggers and propeller baits provide
plenty of excitement later in the month.
A few crappie can still be caught shallow but
as the month progresses, the fish move out to the deeper brush piles where they
can be taken on tube jigs with 1/16-ounce jigheads or minnows.
White bass remain in the creeks at the
beginning of the month, but later move out to the main lake where they can be
caught on 1/8-ounce jigging spoons and topwater chuggers as they surface in the
Topwater action continues to produce for bass,
along with 7- to 10-inch plastic worms, as the fish migrate to their summertime
haunts. Concentrate on main lake points or brush piles 10 to 20 feet deep.
Crappie have moved to the brush piles 15 to 20
feet deep for the summer. Try a 1/16- to 1/8-ounce jig tipped with a minnow or
stick a minnow on a 2/0 Aberdeen gold hook for the best results. Since the fish
burrow in the brush, switch to 8-pound test line, especially when using minnows.
White bass still surface early in the mornings
and can be taken on topwater chuggers and spoons along the main lake flats and
Night fishing becomes the most productive
method for catching bass. Try working a 10-inch Berkley Power Worm (black,
black-and-blue or red shad) in brush piles or along main lake points 10 to 25
feet deep with medium-heavy, bait-casting equipment and 12- to 17-pound test
Some crappie can be taken on minnows under the
dock lights at night from brush piles 15 to 20 feet deep.
Bumping a 10-inch plastic worm through the
brush or along main lake points at night continues to produce the best action
for bass. Fishing under the dock lights with minnows still works best for
White bass start schooling again along main
lake points and humps where they can be caught on a chugger-and-jig combination,
1/2-ounce chrome jigging spoons or Heddon Sonars.
Bass can be taken during the day or night with
10-inch plastic worms in the brush and main lake points. Some fish can also be
caught later in the month in the backs of creeks with 3/8-ounce spinnerbaits,
shallow-running crankbaits or white jigs and pork frogs.
Crappie start getting active again and bite a
jig (chartreuse, yellow-and-white or gray) better in the brush piles 15 to 20
feet deep. White bass move up into the creeks where they can be caught trolling
a Roostertail or Roadrunner.
Bass fall for a variety of lures this month.
Try retrieving a 3/8-ounce white spinnerbait or swimming a white 1/4-ounce jig
and number 11 pork frog along the foam of a dock. Running a shallow-diving
crankbait (shad patterns or fire tiger colors) along chunk rock banks also
catches plenty of bass.
Crappie move into the brush 8 to 10 feet deep
and fall for tube jigs with 1/16-ounce jigheads in shad colors. Some white bass
remain in the creeks while others move out to the points where they can be
caught on chuggers and jigs, Roostertails, 1/8-ounce feather jigs or 2- to
4-inch stick baits.
The same patterns that worked in October
continue to produce until late in the month when bass start moving to deeper
water on the main lake. Working a deep-diving crankbait (shad- or crawfish
colors) along chunk rock banks catches some fish later in the month.
Crappie action continues to improve on jigs in
a variety of colors. The fish eventually move back to the brush piles 10 to 15
feet deep by the middle of the month.
White bass congregate on the windy points where
they hit 4-inch Rebel Minnows, Roostertails and chuggers and jigs.
Crappie provide the best action as they
continue to bite on tube jigs with 1/16-ounce jigheads in the brush piles 15 to
20 feet deep.
A few bass can be caught on the main lake banks
with weighted stick baits or in the brush piles 10 to 15 feet deep with tube
jigs or plastic grubs.
Refer to this calendar when you want to plan a
trip to the Lake of the Ozarks this year. If you want information on guide
services or lodging at the Lake of the Ozarks or to receive a free 152-page
vacation guide, call the Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitor Bureau at
1-800-FUN-LAKE or visit the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitor 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.