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THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing GuideExpert Articles by John Neporadny Jr. - June 2009

Grand Glaize Offers Consistent Crappie Action
by John Neporadny Jr.

While tournaments keep the Grand Glaize arm of Lake of the Ozarks well stocked with bass throughout the year, this section of the lake also contains a large population of crappie.

The Grand Glaize arm runs about 16 miles from its confluence with the Osage arm to the swinging bridges area where the Glaize narrows down to a stream. The arm contains several large branches and hollows throughout its length. Fish-holding structure on this arm includes creek channel drops and bends, bluffs, humps, long gradual gravel points and gravel flats.

Although this section of the lake has less boat dock than the other arms, it still contains plenty of sunken brush piles in the undeveloped Lake of the Ozarks State Park, section. Most of the docks on this arm are confined to the first couple of miles around the Grand Glaize Bridge and some spots from the 26 to 30 mile marker.

Terry Blankenship, a veteran crappie tournament angler from Lake Ozark, Mo., considers the Glaize a medium-size feeder stream that creates different types of fishing opportunities for crappie. “In the early spring it seems like there is a movement of fish up the creek, and in the late fall there is a movement of fish coming back down the creeks on the upper Glaize,” he discloses.

During the winter, Blankenship concentrates on main channel structure where he finds crappie 12 to 15 feet deep. He catches wintertime crappie with a 1/16-ounce Laker Nailer tube jig (smoke hues for clear water and chartreuse for dirty conditions) tied to 6-pound test, the line size he uses for most of his crappie tactics throughout the year.

In the spring, Blankenship heads to the upper Glaize where he pitches a bobber-and-jig combo around shallow stickups and lay-downs. He sets his jig about 18 inches below the bobber and casts the rig past his target. Cranking the bobber close to the cover, Blankenship stops his retrieve and allows the jig to fall next to the wood, which usually triggers a strike.

The upper Glaize warms quicker so the spawn in this section usually occurs during the third week of April when the water temperature rises into the 60- to 65-degree range. The last week of April is usually the peak of the spawn on the lower end, Blankenship says. During the spawn, Blankenship keys on pea-gravel banks and fishes about 1 to 2 feet deeper than the water visibility level. He uses the bobber-and-jig combination if the water is murky but casts a jig in clear-water situations.

Postspawn crappie can be taken by trolling small shad-pattern crankbaits or casting 1/8-ounce Roadrunners along secondary points. “A lot of the fish are suspended then,” he says. “I know a lot of people have success after the spawn by trolling along the banks with jigs or Roostertails.”

Main lake bluffs on the Glaize arm offer crappie stable water conditions during the summertime and quick access to both deep and shallow water. Blankenship usually keys on bluff points with sunken brush piles or rock formations where crappie suspend over this cover. “I find a lot of fish suspended over the deep side of that brush where they can stay in deeper water and find the right comfort zone,” he discloses.

The local angler also prefers fishing ledges and cuts along the bluffs rather than sheer rock walls. “Those spots seem to hold fish better because they have more horizontal structure than then the straight up-and-down wall of the bluff,” he says. The pockets or cuts usually feature rock slides or wash-out areas that extend beyond the rock wall and provide a shallow spot for crappie to move up from the depths to feed.

During the hottest part of summer, Blankenship probes the 20- to 25-foot range for crappie along the walls, but he moves up into the 10- to 15 foot zone in late summer. As the water continues to cool down in the early fall, he moves up the ledges as shallow as 2 to 6 feet deep.

Horizontal and vertical presentations both work along bluffs for Blankenship. He either casts Laker Lures Nailer tubes to the bluff and swims the lures back over the brush and rocks or he will drop the lure straight down into the cover. When the water is still warm, Blankenship attaches a Berkley Crappie Nibble to the hook to enhance his jig.

By the middle of September, crappie on the Glaize start following baitfish to the back of coves, which offer cooler water. Some fish will move as shallow as 2 to 3 feet, but most of the crappie in the fall will be in the 6- to 10-foot range. Blankenship catches autumn crappie on a Nailer tube while employing a dying shad retrieve. If Blankenship sees shad turning on their sides near the surface, he begins his presentation by working his jigs vertically over the top of the brush piles. He lets the lure sit for awhile, then raises it suddenly and lets it fall back on a tight line to trigger a reaction strike from crappie holding tight to brush.

The best fall fishing usually occurs when the water temperature ranges from 50 to 60 degrees. Once the water drops below 50 degrees, the biggest concentration of crappie move back to the deep water again. “December is an excellent month for catching schooling fish in deeper areas,” suggests Blankenship.

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 & 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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