Articles by John Neporadny Jr. - October
Lake of the Ozarks' White
Bass Turn On In Fall
by John Neporadny Jr.
Anglers who store their rods and reels in the
fall to concentrate on hunting miss out on some of the Lake of the Ozarks'
hottest fishing action.
When chilling northern winds signal the end of
summer, white bass invade the shallows in search-and-feed missions for shad.
From the middle of September to early November, whites congregate on main lake
structure where the wind is blowing in, such as rocky points and bluffs. While a
variety of techniques will catch white bass in the fall at the Lake of the
Ozarks, two of the most productive methods are popping a topwater chugger-and-jig
combination and twitching a shallow-diving stickbait.
The combination of a topwater lure and a
doll-fly trailer tricks white bass of all sizes. Over the years Bruce Gier, a
former guide and owner of a bait-and-tackle store in Eldon, Mo., has been
refining a technique he learned from a fellow angler of catching white bass on a
frog-colored chugger with a trailer jig. Gier has switched to a shad-colored
Rebel Pop-R or a Heddon Tiny Chugger with a white 1/16th-ounce feather jig.
Since white bass tend to tear up plastic-skirted jigs, Gier prefers using
feather jigs as trailers. "You catch so many fish on the chugger and jig
that you'll have to replace the plastic bodies all the time," he says.
Gier casts his rig with a bait-cast or spinning
tackle and 8- or 10-pound test line. He ties an 18-inch leader of 10-pound test
on the back hook of the chugger and then to the jig. He also removes the front
hook of the chugger to keep the leader line from tangling up in the hooks.
In October, Gier searches for white bass along
chunk rock banks at the mouth of the Gravois arm and in the North Shore area.
The Missouri angler also finds the fish along these banks in November if the
water temperature stays in the 50- to 65-degree range.
Casting as close to the bank as possible, Gier
retrieves the chugger-and-jig combination in a popping manner. "The popping
imitates another white bass chasing a minnow on the surface," Gier says.
"The popping noise excites the fish below. They're going to come up to
check out that noise because they just can't stand it."
The speed of the retrieve can vary, but the
action of the chugger must be a deliberate pop. "The chugger's got to throw
that water out front," Gier says. "It's got to look like an
Gier jerks the chugger and reels at the same
time. He also makes sure he works the rig all the way to the boat. "A lot
of times, they'll hit it right when you're picking it up out of the water."
Sometimes Gier catches a double on his rig.
"If you ever catch one on the topwater lure, nine out of 10 times you'll
catch one on the crappie jig." When he hooks one on the chugger, Gier lets
the fish swim around until another white hits the trailer jig.
The chugger and jig technique works even
without much wind. The chugging noise attracts the whites if they are in the
vicinity. "Whenever the white bass are running, you can catch just as many
as you want," Gier says.
Twitching a stickbait for white bass along
wind-blown banks has been a productive technique for me throughout the years. I
alternate between three types of jerk baits, selecting the Storm Lures Junior
ThunderStick and 4-inch Rebel Minnow when I want to catch numbers of whites or a
Smithwick Rattlin' Rogue in the 4 1/2- to 5 1/2-inch model when I'm after
trophy-size whites or hybrids. These lures seem to best resemble the size of the
shad I see on the Lake of the Ozarks during the fall. Chrome or silver and black
are the best colors for the Rebel Minnow and Storm Lures Junior ThunderStick,
but I've also had some good catches on a Junior ThunderStick in a rainbow trout
hue. The biggest whites seem to prefer a Rogue with a black back, gold sides and
The minnow baits have worked extremely well for
me on those cloudy, windy days in late October and all through November. These
lures will also take fish on sunny days, but you need a combination of wind and
shade to draw strikes from white bass.
My favorite areas to throw the jerk baits are
windy points, channel banks and bluffs in the Gravois and Grand Glaize arms.
I've also caught some fish on long, shallow points with this technique, but the
most productive structure features rock ledges which attract both baitfish and
the white bass. When the waves crash up against the rocks, the baitfish schools
scatter along the ledges. The white bass then pick off their prey by moving up
into the rocks or waiting in deeper water for the baitfish to get washed off the
ledges. Clear-water areas are also best since white bass feed primarily by
When I find this type of situation, I throw the
minnow bait up close to the bank and start twitching the lure along the ledge to
the deeper water. To catch a prowling white's attention, I jerk the minnow bait
sharply to make the lure's silver sides flash. I rapidly jerk the lure three
times, then pause it momentarily before repeating the twitching process again. A
lot of the strikes occur during the pause. Since I'm trying to trigger a
reaction strike, I never let the lure sit still long. This prevents the fish
from getting a good look at the baitfish imitator in the clear water. If I see a
white bass slash at the lure and miss, I keep the lure moving at a slower pace,
which occasionally draws a strike from the same fish.
If the three-count retrieve fails to produce, I
vary the cadence of my jerks until I find a rhythm the white bass prefer. I also
work the retrieve all the way back because I've had fish strike at the lure
right next to the boat.
As the weather turns cooler in the fall, the
white bass action gets hotter at the Lake of the Ozarks. If you want to try some
of this exciting fall white bass fishing and need more information on lodging
and other facilities at the Lake of the Ozarks or to receive a 162-page vacation
guide, call the Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitors Bureau at
1-800-FUN-LAKE or visit the web site at www.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.