Articles by John Neporadny Jr. - January 2010
Winter's Best Bass Fishing at Lake of the Ozarks
by John Neporadny Jr.
Blowing snow stings your face and the wind
pierces through gloves to numb your hands. Even though the frigid temperatures
turn your rod tip into an ice cube after nearly every cast, you tolerate these
inconveniences in anticipation of catching the bass of a lifetime.
While the lakes in the northern half of the
state freeze over during the winter, Lake of the Ozarks usually offers an
ice-free spot to catch lunker largemouth bass throughout January and February.
Heavyweight bass in this central Missouri reservoir reside along main lake
structure and feed on dying shad that succumb to the cold water. A lure
resembling the fluttering action of a dying shad, such as a suspending stickbait,
works best during this time of year. Fishing pressure will also be minimal since
fair-weather fishermen hibernate in their warm homes.
Anglers willing to bear the cold for a chance
to catch quality wintertime largemouth should pack the thermal underwear and
insulated coveralls and head for the lake. Try the following tips for catching
Lake of the Ozarks bass during winter.
Channel bends in the clear-water stretch from
the dam to the 14-mile mark hold schools of big bass during the winter at this
reservoir. Any time bass have a channel bend they can move up from the deep
water onto a flat and eat shad.
Lake of the Ozarks bass tend to congregate
below schools of shad in 12 to 20 feet of water. The shad usually suspend 8 to
12 feet deep and bass hang right below them. The fish usually stay 4 to 5 feet
under the baitfish so they can follow the shad school around. Even though bass
feed on baitfish during this time, some anglers avoid areas loaded with schools
of shad because they believe bass have too much food to choose from there. So
these local anglers try channel bends with sparse numbers of baitfish where they
can work a weighted stickbait without much competition from the natural forage.
A 5 1/2-inch medium-diver Rattlin' Rogue or a
Luckycraft Pointer 100 in the clown color produces bass during this time. With
four or five turns of the reel handle you can make the stickbait dive down to a
depth of 4 to 5 feet. If the lure is properly weighted, it will suspend at the
same depth or sink slowly.
Let the lure sit for about 20 seconds and then
twitch it once or twice. A word of caution: the more you twitch the lure, the
smaller the fish you will catch. Even though the lure usually only dives down
about 5 feet, its action imitates a dying shad, which draws bass out of the
depth to strike it.
When the weather turns nasty, key on chunk rock
points. The worse the weather, the better the fishing so when the wind
blows real hard and it's snowing, the fish will come up on the rocky points.
If you can stand the cold, this is the best
time to catch a 9- or 10-pound bass at the Lake of the Ozarks. This pattern
usually lasts until the end of March when the water warms and bass start chasing
crankbaits and spinnerbaits.
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.