Articles by John Neporadny Jr. - January 2011
Winter Spots to Catch Lake
of the Ozarks Crappie
by John Neporadny Jr.
Biting winds numb the fingers and toes and the
frosty air constantly ices up rod tips.
Yes, winter weather can be pretty darn harsh on
anglers, but there is a bright side to this gloomy scenario. The good news is
crappie at Lake of the Ozarks still bite despite the cold and can be taken even
in the bitterest weather if you know where to find them.
Crappie tend to bunch up during this season, so
you can fill your stringer and make the cold tolerable if you find their
wintertime haunts. So bundle up in layers of warm clothing and head for one of
these two winter crappie hot spots.
Private Boat Docks
Boathouses provide plenty of shelter for
crappie during the winter. On Lake of the Ozarks, crappie suspend under the
floating docks or burrow into the sunken brush piles placed strategically under
the docks. Crappie also seek shelter next to the posts of some floating docks or
suspend on the supporting steel cables of marina docks. So when the cold water
makes a crappie lethargic, the panfish uses the cover of a dock to ambush any
baitfish that wanders into its lair.
Deep water is the key to finding the most
productive docks. Key on docks located along drop-offs, creek and river channel
banks, bluff-ends and steep- sloping points. The best docks at Lake of the
Ozarks usually sit over depths of at least 20 feet.
Fishing from the dock is the easiest and most
comfortable way to try this winter spotóif you can gain permission from the
dock owner. This opportunity allows you to fish brush piles in the back of dock
wells and other spots inaccessible to anglers fishing from a boat.
When fishing from a boat, try the deep water
along the sides and in front of a dock. Telltale signs on the dock indicating
sunken brush include rod holders, chairs, lights hanging over the water and
storage sheds, which also serve as excellent wind breaks while fishing on the
A vertical presentation with jigs or minnows
works best when crappie hold tight to the brush. Try casting a jig and counting
it down to various depths when the fish are suspended under the docks. A minnow
or jig set below a bobber also takes crappie seeking the warmth of a dockís
floating foam on sunny winter days.
The most comfortable way to catch cold-weather
crappie is from an enclosed heated boathouse. Some resorts on Lake of the Ozarks
cater to their wintertime customers by providing enclosed docks furnished with
rocking chairs, toaster ovens, coffee makers, televisions and wood-burning
The weather outside might be frightful, but
inside some of these docks it's a balmy 70 to 80 degrees. The warmth and shelter
from the wind provided by these fishing houses makes it much easier to detect
the light strikes of wintertime crappie.
These floating structures are usually sitting
over deep water (20 to 30 feet). Inside the docks are large wells filled with
brush sunken on the lakeís bottom or hanging on wires at various depths. Some
resorts also bait the wells with hay bales, dog food or oatmeal to attract
minnows and shad.
Casting in the well is impractical, so pick a
spot and drop your jig or minnow straight down. Look for any cables hanging in
the water, which indicates a brush pile tied to it.
Target bottom-hugging fish by letting your bait
fall to the lakeís floor and then cranking the reel handle once. If this fails
to produce, slowly reel up or stitch the line in your hand. When a strike
occurs, keep track of the depth so you can present your bait at the exact
location with your next offering. If the dock isnít crowded, move around the
well to fish different sections of brush.
For information on lodging and heated docks 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 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.