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THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing GuideExpert Articles by John Neporadny Jr. - January 2008

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.

January

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 line.

February

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.

March

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.

April

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.

May

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 mornings.

June

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 points.

July

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 line.

Some crappie can be taken on minnows under the dock lights at night from brush piles 15 to 20 feet deep.

August

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 crappie.

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.

September

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.

October

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.

November

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.

December

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.

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