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THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing GuideExpert Articles by John Neporadny Jr. - September 2011

Falling for Lake of the Ozarks Crappie

By John Neporadny Jr.

The season when many Lake of the Ozarks visitors enjoy harvest festivals and the outdoor extravaganza of leaves changing colors is also a special time for crappie anglers.

These fishermen know autumn offers some of the best opportunities to catch aggressive crappie without much competition from fellow anglers. The cool fall weather drops water temperatures and triggers crappie into a feeding frenzy as the fish fatten up for winter. This feeding spree produces some of the best crappie action of the year, but many outdoorsmen miss the fun because they target the fall hunting seasons.

Crappie abound in Lake of the Ozarks and this major reservoir usually produces some of the best fall action in the state. Let’s take a look at how a local angler takes fall crappie from this top fishery.

“In the early part of fall, crappie can still be pretty deep,” says Terry Blankenship, a local crappie tournament angler.

Cooler days and nights trigger a migration of baitfish into the backs of coves and major creeks where the crappie follow the forage. Blankenship finds these panfish in sunken brush piles close to the creek channels and as the water keeps cooling down the guide keys on shallower brush. When fishing the off-color water of the upper Grand Glaize, Blankenship catches crappie as shallow as 2 feet deep in autumn.

The upper reaches of the Grand Glaize and Gravois creeks produce good fall action, but Blankenship suggests the Osage arm from the 40- to 70-mile mark offers the best fishing for quality crappie. “In all the crappie tournaments every year, seven or eight of the top 10 finishers come out of that water,” he says. “There are just better fish up that Osage.”

Matching the hatch is a key to Blankenship’s lure selection for Lake of the Ozarks crappie. “I concentrate pretty hard on using the natural shad colors (on jigs) because the threadfin are hatched out and the crappie really get aggressive feeding on them,” suggests Blankenship, who uses a 1/16-ounce plastic tube in hues of silver, gray or pearl. He works his jigs on 6-pound test most of the time, but occasionally switches to 8-pound line when fishing heavy cover in murky water.

As the leaves turn color and the fall festivals begin, visit Lake of the Ozarks to enjoy some outstanding crappie fishing.

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 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.

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