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

Lake of the Ozarks Full of Manmade Fish Attractors

by John Neporadny Jr.

Even though the trees were cleared by workers during the construction of Bagnell Dam in 1931, the Lake of the Ozarks now contains plenty of fish-attracting brush.

Lake of the Ozarks Full of Manmade Fish Attractors Sunken brush piles abound throughout the lake, thanks to resort and property owners and other anglers who construct and sink the fish attractors. The brush piles are mainly put in to attract crappie, but they also serve as cover for largemouth bass.

Groups of resort owners on the Niangua arm of the lake have ben sinking brush piles for years to attract customers to their area. Sinking brush piles is more of an individual effort on other arms of the lake though. These are more secretive projects done by dock owners or anglers wanting to establish their own honey holes for crappie or bass. But since everyone has the right to fish the lake, these sunken treasures are available to you as well if you can find them.

One crappie fishing expert who knows how to find sunken brush piles on Lake of the Ozarks is Guy Winters of Camdenton, Mo. The most obvious places to find brush in Lake of the Ozarks are the docks. There are plenty to choose from on this lake, but not all docks have crappie beds. "You can read the docks to tell whether or not it has a brush pile around it," Winters says. The best indicator on the dock is a well-kept fish-cleaning station. "That tells you there are fishermen who live there," says Winters. Other signs include a live box and minnow buckets on the dock.

Once you find a likely looking dock, then you have to determine where the brush is located along it. "That's where a locator on your trolling motor is valuable," says Winters. "It only takes a few minutes to run around that dock with the trolling motor to find where the brush is." Remember that the brush will most likely be within casting distance from the dock.

If you don't have a depth finder on your boat, there are other ways to tell where the brush is located along the dock. Corners of docks and inside the dock wells are always good spots to look for brush. Rod holders on the docks are usually positioned near the brush pile and sometimes you'll see a rod that has a line out with a bobber, which is usually floating over the top of the brush. Winters notes that some dock owners also have a light hanging off the end of their docks, which is positioned over the top of the brush for night fishing. Another key to finding the location of brush piles is to look at the direction chairs on the dock are facing. "If the chairs point towards the well, that's where the brush is at; if they point the other way, then the brush is on the outside of the dock," Winters says.

A shallow dock will be unproductive most of the time, even if it has plenty of brush near it. The best year-round docks are either in or near deep water. Even a deep-water dock with sparse cover will produce more often than a shallow dock with lots of brush.

Sunken brush piles lie in other spots on the lake, but these are the most difficult beds to find. Some type of depth finder is essential when looking for these sunken trees. "I wouldn't fish without one," says Winters. "It's one of the most important tools a fisherman can have. Any cove I'm not familiar with, I just leave my locator on and normally try to keep the boat in 12 to 15 feet of water."

Winters concentrates his search on the channel side of the cove or the main lake. The most likely places to hold sunken brush are pea gravel banks and bluffs. Any type of rocky or gravel pocket is also worth investigating. When the lake level is low, any brush found 14 to 15 feet deep produces best in the spring, fall and winter, the crappie expert says.

Telltale signs along the bank also help you find brush piles. Look for a stump, which usually indicates the rest of the tree is somewhere below you. Sunken small sycamore trees have a different indicator. "There won't be a stump," says Winters. "There will be a piece of trunk standing up about 2 1/2 to 3 feet tall with a bunch of little limbs growing out of it. That's one of the signs that a lot of people overlook." Also watch for old, black telephone cables running down the bank which are usually tied to brush piles. This method of sinking trees is usually done along bluffs or other areas close to a river or creek channel.

While the Lake of the Ozarks appears to be barren of fish-attracting cover on the surface, underneath lies thousands of brush-pile condos for crappie and bass.

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.

Join and Follow John's Blog at http://jnfishing.blogspot.com/

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