Articles by John Neporadny Jr. - February
Denny Brauer’s Lake of the Ozarks Tips
By John Neporadny Jr.
Bass fishing legend Denny Brauer has competed
on numerous waters throughout the country so he knows what makes a good bass
“Lake of the Ozarks is unique because it has
a bass population from one end to the other; whereas a lot of others aren’t
that way,” says the 1999 Bassmasters Classic champion. “I think it is one of
the best jig lakes in the country. You can literally fish a jig 12 months a year
because the lake has so much cover with the docks and the brush around the
During the winter, Brauer targets bluffs and
rock slides where he throws a jerkbait or a jig-and-craw. He favors a jerk bait
with a blue back and chrome sides on sunny days, a black back/chrome sides model
in overcast weather and the clown color in stained water. The former BASS Angler
of the Year jerks the lures slowly with 10-pound test line and experiments with
his presentation until he figures out how the fish want the lure retrieved. “When
that water is down in the 40s I give it three jerks, kill it and let it sit for
a little bit, then give it three more jerks,” he describes.
The jig fishing expert also relies on a
chameleon craw 1/ 2-ounce Strike King Denny Brauer Design Pro Model Jig tipped
with a Strike King Denny Brauer 3X Chunk trailer in the same color. He pitches
the jig to the bank on 12- to 17-pound test line and works it out to 18 to 20
feet deep. “I try to definitely make contact all the time with the bottom and
make real short hops off the bottom,” he says. His favorite areas for
wintertime fishing include the Niangua arm and the lower end of the lake from
the mouth of the Gravois to the mouth of the Grand Glaize.
As the water warms in the early spring, Brauer
concentrates on the lower and middle sections of the lake to catch bass during
the prespawn, which usually reaches its peak in April when the water temperature
climbs to 55 degrees. Brauer still uses the jerkbait or jig during the prespawn,
but he also throws crawfish-color Strike King Pro Model Series 3 and 4
crankbaits with 12- to 17-pound line. He relies on the heavier line in dirty
water and scales down for clear conditions.
“I just go down the chunk rock banks on into
the pea gravel banks and the pockets,” says Brauer, who retrieves the lure in
a stop-and-go fashion. “I try to keep it on the bottom the whole retrieve or
pretty close to it. I’ll stop it now and then even if I don’t hit anything
because those cold-water bass like to follow a bait.” The fish will usually be
about 4 to 8 feet deep along the rocky banks of the coves and creeks.
Brauer discloses that a mild winter will
trigger the bass spawn in April, but a harsh winter delays the spawn until May.
He fishes the lower end of the lake some when bass are on the nests, but he
prefers the mid-lake area most of the time. The BASS pro looks for small side
pockets in the big coves that have fairly flat gravel banks. He also likes
certain banks lined with boat docks that are near deep water. The depth of the
fish depends on the water clarity but in most cases Brauer finds nesting bass
less than 5 feet deep.
When he finds the right spot, Brauer flips a
Strike King Denny Brauer’s Pro Model Flip-N-Tube (green pumpkin) Texas-rigged
with a 5/16-ounce weight and a Mustad 3/0 or 4/0 hook. He opts for 12- to
15-pound test for flipping the tube and dips the lure’s tail in chartreuse dye
if he is fishing stained water.
“If the water is a little stained I am mainly
pitching to targets; if the water is fairly clear I will move in and do a little
sight fishing, although I prefer not to fish that way,” admits Brauer.
After the spawn, Brauer works a Strike King
Spit-N-King topwater lure around docks in the spawning pockets and the secondary
points close to the nesting areas. He likes to cover a lot of water during this
time so the pro angler retrieves his lure quickly on 12-pound test line. The
fish will usually be less than 12 feet deep and will hit the lure whether it’s
sunny or cloudy. “You can throw the topwater pretty much all day that time of
the year,” says Brauer, who prefers fishing close to home in the mid-lake area
during the post spawn.
Main lake docks and some boathouses in coves
are Brauer’s favorite summertime targets from Bagnell Dam to the Hurricane
Deck Bridge. A pumpkin/green flake 1/ 2-ounce Strike King Denny Brauer Design
Pro Model Jig and Strike King Denny Brauer 3X Chunk in the same hue is one of
Brauer’s favorite lures for pitching around the docks. “The fish are feeding
on bluegill around the docks so that color seems to work the best,” says
Brauer. He also uses a Texas-rigged 11-inch plastic worm (pumpkinseed, June bug
or electric blue) with a 4/0 Mustad hook and a 1/ 2-ounce worm weight tied on
Running a Strike King Pro Model Series 6
crankbait along main lake points also produces summertime bass for Brauer. He
favors a blue back/white belly or blue back/chartreuse crankbait that he cranks
on 12-pound test line.
In the fall (October through the end of
November), Brauer runs up the Osage arm where he fishes anywhere from the 50
mile marker up to Truman Dam. He looks for isolated wood and schools of shad on
flats along the main channel or back in the creeks.
The legendary angler’s favorite fall lures
include a 1/ 2- ounce Strike King Elite buzz bait (white for sunny weather or
black for rainy days) and a 1/ 2-ounce white or white-and-chartreuse spinnerbait
with willowleaf blades, both of which he throws on 20-pound test line. He also
likes to flip jigs and creature baits to the docks and isolated wood cover. A 1/
2-ounce jig in a Texas craw or black-and-blue color works best if he is fishing
the lure along the bottom. If the fish are suspended under docks, Brauer opts
for a white 3/8-ounce jig with a white trailer that he swims along the docks
with 25-pound test line.
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.