Expert Articles by John
Neporadny Jr. -
Dog Days Lake of the Ozarks
by John Neporadny Jr.
When the summer sun scorches the skin and sweat
pours from the body, fishing may give way to water skiing and swimming. But
driven anglers, disregarding the relentless Missouri heat, still can take plenty
of crappie during the steamy days of August on Lake of the Ozarks. Mark Dahl, a
former part-time guide and owner of Dahl's Mini Mart bait-and-tackle shop in
Gravois Mills, Mo., relies on electronics to locate crappie on this highland
lake devoid of natural cover.
The timber was removed from Lake of the Ozarks
before the reservoir was filled. Manmade structures, such as sunken brush piles
and cedar trees, serve as fish attractors in this lake. Anglers need a
topographic map and some type of depth finder to locate the hidden fish-holding
"I tell guys that when they find a spot on the
locator, take out the map and write it down," Dahl says. "Even if it's not
exact, knowing that they found some beds at 15 to 20 feet, should help them
locate the structure again."
The best locations for finding summertime
crappie beds include channel bends, creek channels or points. "The best bet for
someone fishing the lake for the first time is to go into a cove or along the
main channel and look for boat docks with lights and rod holders," Dahl says.
"Those docks usually have sunken brush piles under them."
The depth of the fish varies depending on water
temperature and the amount of sunlight. "The fish don't go much deeper than 20
to 25 feet," Dahl says. "There are times early and late when they're up as
shallow as 4 to 6 feet." Bright, sunny days and climbing water temperatures
drive the fish deeper.
Dahl uses a paper graph recorder and marker
buoys when searching for crappie. Idling along the lake, he waits for small,
sharp hooks (indicating crappie) to appear on the recorder. When the graph
records a mass of crappie, Dahl drops a buoy and shuts off the motor. He lets
the boat drift until he reaches the end of the school, then he drops a second
Using his trolling motor, or drifting as slowly
as possible, Dahl drops a jig straight down into the school of crappie. "And if
that doesn't turn them on for a feeding frenzy, I'll try a jig and a minnow,"
The hue of the jig depends on water depth and
clairty, but Dahl usually uses fluorescent-colored jigs. He fishes the jig, or a
jig tipped with a minnow on 4-pound test line with ultralight spinning tackle.
The light line lets the jig drop faster to avoid smaller fish. Dahl sometimes
fishes along the bottom to catch larger crappie. "Sometimes you'll pull them up
and you'll see silt on their bottom fins," he says.
If you can tolerate Missouri's sauna-like
summers, you, too, can catch enough crappie for a sizzling summertime fish fry.
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.