Articles by John Neporadny Jr. - April
Lake of the Ozarks
John Neporadny Jr.
When the dogwoods bloom, the crappie are
There’s a lot of truth to that saying here at
Lake of the Ozarks since dogwood blossoming time usually coincides with the
crappie spawn in the spring.
While crappie reside in most bodies of water
throughout the state, Lake of the Ozarks contains a thriving population of these
tasty panfish. This central Missouri impoundment lacks natural cover, but has
plenty of man-made fish attractors and ideal spawning areas that produce the
most consistent springtime crappie fishing in the state each year. “We have a
lot of pea gravel banks close to channels as compared to other lakes in the
state,” says Guy Winters, a crappie seminar lecturer from Camdenton. “That’s
why crappie do so well here.”
Sunken man-made brush piles and boat docks
replace the deficiency of natural habitat at Lake of the Ozarks. “It’s
important to have a good locator on your boat where you can find some brush in
the depth of water you want to concentrate on,” suggests Winters.
When the water temperature climbs above 60
degrees, Winters claims male crappie start sweeping nests and then the first
wave of females arrive to lay eggs at about 62 degrees. This spawning process
continues with males guarding the nests as the water temperature climbs to 70
degrees. The crappie expert notes the spawning activity usually ends by 72
Lake of the Ozarks crappie seek nesting sites
along pea gravel banks protected from wind and waves. “They look for backs of
pockets and coves,” advises Winters. “I’ve noticed over the years if you
find a pea gravel bank with lots of docks on it, the docks toward the back of
that cove hold more fish than the ones closer to the mouth of the cove even
though they don’t have a variance in depth. Those docks tend to break up the
Crappie spawn at various depths depending on
the arm of the lake. During a wet spring, Winters notes some water turns muddy
enough “to track a coon across the lake” and the fish build nests as shallow
as 6 inches. The Gravois arm and the dam area offer the clearest water where
crappie spawn deeper. Winters claims he has caught spawning crappie as deep as
20 feet from the clear water.
The shallowness of the Niangua arm causes the
water to warm quicker and trigger the crappie action sooner. “The fish go to
the bank and start spawning there as much as a week earlier than they will on
the Osage or the (Grand) Glaize,” predicts Winters. The last spawning crappie
can be found each spring in the dam area.
Artificial lures work best for Winters during
the spawn. He favors plastic tube jigs and Laker Curlybugs attached to
1/16-ounce jigheads for fish in deeper water or 1/32-ounce models for shallow
spawners. The local expert opts for dark-color jigs (chartreuse glitter, smoke
glitter/pearl tail or black) in dirty water and lighter hues (pink/pearl,
blue/pearl or solid pearl) for clear water.
When the dogwoods bloom, head for Lake of the
Ozarks to experience some of the best crappie action of the year.
For information on lodging and other facilities at the Lake of the Ozarks
or to receive a free 162-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. Although best
known as a summer vacation hot spot, the Lake of the Ozarks has quietly become a
choice Midwest location for bass anglers to visit during any season.
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.