Articles by John Neporadny Jr. - November
Shaky-Head Fishing For Lake of the Ozarks
By John Neporadny Jr.
One of the latest bass fishing rages is
starting to catch on with Lake of the Ozarks crappie anglers as well.
The combination of a jig head and small finesse
worm known as a shaky head worm has become the rig many bass pros rely on when
the fishing gets tough. A couple of savvy crappie anglers have also discovered a
miniature version of the shaky head worm produces fish especially on heavily
While fishing with a buddy a couple of years
ago on Lake of the Ozarks, Phil Gardner threw a tube bait around the docks and
his partner rigged an Eagle Claw Nitro Trailer on a jig head. “He started
absolutely waxing me with those things,” recalls Gardner.
When Gardner borrowed some of his partner’s
trailer worms and rigged up his own shaky head, he immediately started catching
fish. Since then he has employed the jig head and Eagle Claw worm to present to
crappie suspended around large private and community docks in the fall and
winter on his home lake. “I have become a firm believer in the thing because I
guarantee it will out catch a regular crappie tube 5 to 1,” Gardner says.
A variety of jig heads will work with the Eagle
Claw worm, but Gardner prefers a CT Minnow Jig, which has a bullet-shaped head
and a keeper barb to secure the worm to the jig better. When rigged properly,
the worm should be straight in line with the jig head. “I think it falls a
little better (with the minnow head) and that bullet-style head comes through
the brush a lot better than a round head,” says Gardner.
Throughout autumn and early winter, Gardner
prefers his shaky head to fall at a faster rate so he opts for a 1/16-ounce jig
head. However, when the fish become sluggish in the dead of winter, Gardner
selects a 1/32-ounce jig for a slow-falling shaky head. The Missouri angler
favors a chartreuse Nitro worm for most of his shaky head presentations, but he
sometimes tries a white worm that he colors the tip with a dash of chartreuse
Gardner’s presentation consists of pitching
his shaky head along the sides or into the wells of docks and letting the lure
pendulum back to the boat without reeling in line. He believes the worm has a
more natural fall with the pendulum presentation, and he creates more tail
action on the worm when he shakes his rod as the lure sinks.
The crappie veteran claims the key to his
presentation is pinpointing the depth of the fish. Once he discovers the strike
zone, Gardner can lengthen or shorten his pitch so his shaky head will swing
back to the same depth each time he presents the shaky head. When Gardner
guesses the combo has reached the strike zone, he starts shaking the worm to
trigger a bite.
“Most of the time they will hit the thing on
the fall if they are really aggressive,” says Gardner. “A lot of the fish
will be suspended 2 to 4 feet deep under the foam and they will knock 6 inches
of slack out of your line.” While the fish will thump the shaky head some
days, there are other times Gardner has to pay close attention to his line for
that telltale mushy feeling or watch for the line to go slack on the descent.
Although line watching is essential to his
presentation, Gardner prefers using clear 4-pound P-Line because he believes a
high-visibility line spooks the fish in clear water. He pitches his shaky head
on a 5 1/2-foot light-action Bass Pro Shops Wally Marshall Signature Series
Spinning Rod with an ultralight Shimano spinning reel.
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.