Expert Articles by John
Neporadny Jr. - July
Lake of the Ozarks' Bass Pro
by John Neporadny Jr.
Since Lake of the Ozarks has some of the best
bass fishing in the country, it's only natural that the lake has spawned three
of the top professional anglers in the tournament ranks.
Among the most consistent anglers in
competitive fishing today are Denny Brauer, Guido Hibdon and Dion Hibdon.
Before turning pro, this threesome either
guided or fished competitively in smaller tournaments on Lake of the Ozarks.
Their busy schedules keep them from fishing their home reservoir much any more,
but they do get to sneak in an occasional trip during the summer. When they have
the chance to fish at home, they rely on the same trusty summertime patterns
that produced bass for them before they became full-time pros.
Let's find out how these three pros catch
largemouth bass from their home waters during the summertime.
This former BASS Masters Classic champ from
Macks Creek, Mo., has plenty of places to catch bass during the summer at the
Lake of the Ozarks because he targets docks, which can be found nearly
everywhere on his home lake. Since the lake lacks flooded timber or vegetation,
docks become summertime homes for most of the bass because the piers provide
food and shelter.
During summer, Lake of the Ozarks bass seek
brush piles 15 to 30 feet deep around docks. "When the water temperature
get 80 degrees and above, that's when this pattern starts to get good. And the
warmer it gets, the better those docks are," says Brauer. "Some of the
best times I've had were from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. when it's just really hot and
the sun's beating down." Picking the right type of docks to fish is the key
to this pattern.
Brauer concentrates on piers along bluff ends,
45-degree banks or any other areas near deep water. Older docks seem to attract
more bass because they have more algae buildup that draws in the bluegill, a
favorite prey for summertime bass. An aging dock also potentially has more
sunken brush piles and other fish-attracting treasures beneath it. Brauer knows
a dock has sunken brush if he sees crappie lightson the pier, chairs sitting
close to the lights, rod holders, a fish-cleaning area and a fishing boat in the
On sunny, 100-degree days, the bigger bass seek
shade by burrowing into the brush near docks. "The fishing really gets good
when they're in the brush piles," Brauer says. Armed with flipping tackle
and 20-pound line, this flipping specialist can work through the heaviest brush
and yank out a big fish before it tangles up in the mass of limbs. Brauer's
choice lure is a 1/2-ounce jig with a rattle and a plastic crawfish trailer. He
matches the jig and plastic trailer in hues of pumpkinseed/green flake,
chocolate brown or copperhead to imitate bluegill colors. The pro angler usually
positions his boat in front of the dock and pitches his lure parallel to one
side of the floating structure.
After letting the lure sink into the brush,
Brauer shakes the jig to make it rattle in the cover. If he knows the dock has
more brush around it, Brauer will also pitch along the front of the pier and the
other side before moving on to the next target. This pattern works for Brauer on
most sections of the lake, except on the Osage arm above the 50-mile mark. Since
the pattern depends on deep water, it is less productive in the shallows, of the
Growing up and guiding on the Lake of the
Ozarks qualifies this former BASS Masters Classic champ and as the ultimate
authority on his home waters. The Gravois Mills, Mo., angler favors a pattern
targeting virtually untapped fish during the summer on
Lake of the Ozarks. Hibdon concentrates on bass
suspending 12 to18 feet deep over depths of 35 to 40 feet along main-lake points
near channel swings. "A lot of times the fish will suspend over the channel
swings," Hibdon says. "They are not real easy bass to catch, but if
you stay after them and figure out exactly what cast it takes to catch them,
then they become very simple fish to catch because no one else is fishing for
them." The veteran angler says this pattern works anywhere he can see at
least 2 feet down in the water.
A plastic worm and a deep-diving crankbait are
Hibdon's top choices for catching these suspended bass. He uses a Texas-rigged,
10- to 12-inch plastic worm with a 1/8-ounce sinker and 14-pound test line.
His favorite worm hues are black grape and
electric blue. A simple retrieve works best. "Just throw it out there and
let it fall through the school," Hibdon advises. Hibdon steadily retrieves
the crankbait on 10-pound test line with a low-speed reel. The light line and
low-gear ratio of the reel allows his lure to dive down to the 12- to 15-foot
range. The most productive color combination for his crankbait is a black back
and chartreuse sides.
The son of Guido Hibdon started guiding on the
Lake of the Ozarks before he could even legally drive a car. This BASS Masters
Classic champion also targets main lake points in the early summer on his home
lake. But when the dog days arrive, he switches to fishing brush piles at night.
His early summer pattern produces best during
the week when water is being pulled through Bagnell Dam. During this time,
current sweeps across the main lake points and bass hug the bottom of this
structure at depths of 10 to 12 feet. The pattern produces bass in any section
of the lake that has clear to stained water.
Hibdon's nighttime pattern works best in the
clear-water areas, usually the lower end of the lake. His favorite nighttime
haunts are brush piles 15 feet deep along steep banks near a main lake point.
The fish usually stay 6 to 10 feet deep in the cover.
The Stover, Mo., angler chooses an 8- to
10-inch plastic worm rigged Texas-style with a 1/8-ounce sinker when fishing the
points in early summer. He works the worm on 12- to 14- pound test with
bait-casting gear and favors dark-colored worms for stained water and
transparent shades for clear conditions. His retrieve is similar to the
Carolina-rig method of banging the lure into the rocks while dragging it along
When fishing brush piles at night, Hibdon
resorts to a heavier worm weight (5/16 or 3/8 ounce) and heavier line (17-pound
test). "I like for my worm to be in good contact with the brush and work it
in and out of the limbs," Hibdon says of his choice for using a heavier
weight. He slowly retrieves the worm in a yo-yo motion as he drags the lure and
lets it fall through the limbs.
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.