Expert Articles by John
Neporadny Jr. - February
Lake of the Ozarks Bass
Bunch Up In February
by John Neporadny Jr.
If he can break through the ice, Bruce Gier
will head for one of his 10 favorite spots on the North Shore of the Lake of the
Ozarks during February.
The Eldon, Mo., tournament angler admits that
other sections of the lake, such as the Gravois and Niangua arms, are probably
better during this month because they contain warmer water, but the fish tend to
scatter out. He favors the North Shore because big bass tend to bunch up in
confined areas in this section of the lower lake. "There could be 11 giants
hanging around one little piece of brush off of a point over 20 feet of
water," Gier says. The owner of Gier's Bass Pro & Liquor Shop in Eldon
claims he has 10 such spots that produce big fish every year.
During this time, water is being released
through Bagnell Dam every day, so bass on the North Shore key on slack-water
areas along secondary points. "The fish won't be lying in the current but
they will be just off of it around the corner of the point, Gier says. "You
can't see any current, but the fish sure notice it." The water temperature,
which is usually around 42 or 43 degrees, makes bass sluggish in February, so
they try to avoid the current.
Most of the year, Lake of the Ozarks bass hang
around docks or brush piles, but during February they seek the warmth of rocky
banks that receive a lot of sunshine. Ideal locations include sunny pockets near
the corner from where the current breaks around a secondary point. Bass desire
an easy meal during this month and the lake offers them a bountiful forage.
"There are a lot of dying shad in February," Gier says. "If you
look down about 8 or 10 feet in that clear water, you'll see those little 3-inch
shad lying on their side, just barely staying alive. If you see that, look out!
You're going to have yourself quite a day. Things are going to happen."
Gier makes things happen by tantalizing the
fish that are suspended over depths of 20 feet or more with a suspending Lucky
Craft stickbait. To make sure the lures reaches its maximum depth, Gier works
the lure on 8-pound test line.
When Gier pulls the stickbait down to the right
depth, he lets it stay in the same spot and watches his line the same way a
youngster watches a bobber while waiting for a panfish to bite. The lure
imitates a dying shad by fluttering in its suspended state, and any line
movement that occurs during this time signals that a fish has engulfed the
If the fish are hugging the bottom or have
moved into shallow brush piles, Gier switches to 6-pound test line and a plastic
grub or Fat Gitzit on a 1/8-ounce jighead. His favorite color combination for
these lures is light brown/green flake. He slowly swims these lures over brush
piles or along the bottom and occasionally allows the plastic baits to tick off
the brush or rocks. The tube jigs produce best when the fish have moved from the
20-foot range to 8 feet deep in the pockets after a couple of sunny days have
warmed the shallows.
Weather plays a key role during the month. Gier
says on a sunny day he might catch more than 20 keepers even in 30-degree
weather, but on an overcast day he might take only three legal-size fish. He
also makes sure he hits the right spots at the right time, when they are
receiving the most sunshine. "The time of day is pretty important in
February," Gier says. "I've got some spots where the sun doesn't hit
them until 2 o'clock so those are usually my last banks of the day to hit."
Big bass remain in schools throughout the
entire month on North Shore. "That's when you can catch 'Big Mo',"
Gier says. The four biggest bass he has caught on Lake of the Ozarks (ranging
from 8 pounds to 8 pounds, 4 ounces) were caught on a stickbait from
mid-February to mid-March. When the water warms in March, the fish start
scattering along the banks.
Whether he has an ice-free access to the lake
or he has to bust through the ice, Gier will make his rounds to his 10 favorite
spots on Lake of the Ozarks' North Shore because he knows big fish are always
bunched up there. 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.