Articles by John Neporadny Jr. - December
Lake of the Ozarks Mid-section Offers
Diverse Bass Patterns
By John Neporadny Jr.
Anglers have a chance to fish plenty of clear
or off-colored water and shallow- or deep-water structure in the middle section
of the Osage arm of the Lake of the Ozarks throughout the year.
The lower section around Tan-Tar-A and the
confluence of the Niangua arm and Linn Creek features fairly clear water most of
the year and has plenty of bluffs and other steep banks that are ideal for
deep-water patterns. However the section above the Hurricane Deck Bridge usually
contains more stained to murky water and has more gradually sloping banks on
both the main lake and in the various creeks that are ideal for catching fish
shallow throughout most of the year.
Four-time BASS Federation Divisional qualifier
Brian Maloney stays close to the Tan-Tar-A area during the winter to fish the
clearer and deeper water. He looks for big chunk rock and black slab rocks on
the main lake or goes halfway back in the coves and targets secondary points.
“On that end there are deeper v-shaped coves and once the lake drops into its
winter pool in mid-January to mid-February, the fish are sucked out of the coves
and stack up on those types of rocks,” he advises.
One of his favorite winter lures is a small
(3/16 or 1/ 4 ounce) brown or dark green jig that he mixes with a brown or green
plastic tube or craw trailer. He works the lure with 10- to 12-pound
Suspending stick baits is his other choice for
wintertime bass in this area. The Osage Beach, MO, angler prefers a
green-and-white or purple-and-chartreuse model for cloudy days but opts for shad
patterns (blue-and-chrome or black-and-chrome) or the clown color for sunny
“If there is some ripple on the water with
the wind blowing into a secondary point I will fish the jerkbait from the bank
out to 20 feet deep,” says Maloney. “The fish seem to suspend in the 5- to
10-foot range. If I’m looking on my graph and don’t’ see any suspended
fish then I go to the jig and drag it out to 20 feet.” He retrieves the
jerkbait on 8-pound line with a series of jerks and pauses, sometimes letting it
sit for as long as 30 seconds.
In early or mid-March, bass move into the
prespawn stage when the water temperature climbs to around 45 degrees. Then
Maloney concentrates on the flatter banks in the bigger creeks and hollows above
the Hurricane Deck Bridge where he throws a medium-diving crawfish-color
crankbait on 8- or 10-pound line. He moves halfway back in the coves and runs
his crankbait 3 to 12 feet deep in areas where the 45-degree chunk rock banks
change to pea gravel.
Some sight fishing can be done in the cleaner
water around Tan-Tar-A during the spawn. Whether he’s fishing the clear or
dirty water, Maloney looks for concrete pillars of dock walkways and sea wall
abutments where bass usually build nests. The fish will spawn as shallow as 2
feet in the dirty water and as deep as 6 feet in the clear water.
Maloney relies on the small jig and tube
trailer or a bright-colored Chompers Twin Tail grub with a 1/ 4-ounce standup
jighead to catch fish on the nest. “Sight fishing makes it easy,” says
Maloney. “Just cast beyond the fish’s nose and you will find somewhere in
that bed where the fish will spin around and nose down on your bait.” He makes
multiple pitches on 12-pound fluorocarbon line behind the docks to coax spawning
fish into biting.
His favorite docks during the spawn are usually
located in a small nook about halfway to three-quarters back in a cove. The
spawn in this area usually begins when the water temperature climbs above 65
degrees and runs from mid-May to June.
Bass start leaving the nest in late May or
early June. Maloney coaxes these sluggish postspawn fish into hitting a
Carolina-rigged 6-inch plastic lizard. His rig consists of a main line of
17-pound test, a 1/ 2- or 3/ 4-ounce egg-shaped sinker, swivel, bead and 18-inch
to 2-foot leader of 10- to 12-pound line and a 1/0- or 2/0 worm hook. He favors
lizards in green pumpkin or dark melon that he dips the tail with chartreuse or
purple dye. If AmerenUE is running water, Maloney slowly drags his rig across
main or round secondary points about 20 to 25 feet deep. He keeps the lure
moving along on the bottom until it hits any piece of cover and then he lets it
sit for a couple of second before resuming his retrieve.
Topwater lures are also effective during the
post-spawn. Maloney likes to work Zara Spooks (green-and-clear or
chartreuse-and-clear) parallel to the bank along a point or any depth change
near the spawning areas. On cloudy or windy days, he also catches some
post-spawn bass on black ½-ounce buzz baits.
In the early summer, Maloney catches bass on
Carolina-rigged lizards along the channel ledges or on deep-diving crankbaits
(blue-and-chartreuse or shad-pattern hues) that he cranks into brush piles 12
feet or deeper.
Night fishing turns on as the summer gets
hotter, so Maloney relies on a 10-inch Berkley Power Worm (June bug,
black-and-blue or red shad) that he Texas-rigs with a ¼- to 1/ 2-ounce bullet
sinker. He works the worm through brush piles 15 to 30 feet deep on main and
secondary points or main lake cuts with 45-degree banks.
During the heat of summer, Maloney can also
catch bass from isolated docks in the back of coves above the Hurricane Deck
Bridge. He flips his 10-inch plastic worms on 17-pound line to shady areas of
the shallow docks.
Fall is “fun fishing time” for Maloney. He
looks for shad activity in the flats of the coves and flips his small jig to
shallow docks and brush piles. When bass start suspending on the corners of the
docks in about mid-September, Maloney works Zara Spooks, buzz baits and
crankbaits along the sides of the boat houses. He also likes to swim a white 1/
4-ounce jig and white plastic tube, craw or grub down the sides of the docks to
catch fish suspended under the dock foam. Old docks in the backs of coves are
best for the swimming jig tactic. As the water gets colder in autumn, Maloney
keeps moving down lake. He fishes above Hurricane Deck Bridge until the first
part of October and then tries his fall patterns in the Tan-Tar-A area until
about early December.
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.
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.