Articles by John Neporadny Jr. - April
Catching Lake of the Ozarks
Bass Through The Spawning Cycle
by John Neporadny Jr.
When the water starts to warm
in the spring at Lake of the Ozarks black bass have the urge to procreate.
During the spawning cycle,
Bruce Gier, a successful tournament competitor from Eldon, MO, takes advantage
of this situation by using various techniques to catch bass throughout the
spawning cycle. Gier regularly fishes the lake's North Shore area of Lake of the
Ozarks. Pre-spawn on the lake usually begins the last couple of weeks in April
when the water temperature moves into the 50- to 58-degree range. The fish will
be holding 10 feet deep along gravel banks halfway to three-quarters of the way
back in the coves. "They're going to come up on sunny days in the little
pockets in the longer coves," Gier says. Cool nights drive the fish back
out to the 10-foot range until the sun warms the shallows again the next
The bass start losing interest
in "chase-type" baits such as Rattlin' Rogues or crank baits. Gier
says the fish want slower-moving lures such as Carolina-rigged plastic lizards
and worms or jigs and pork frogs. Carolina-rigged 4-inch worms or 6-inch lizards
in watermelon seed or green pumpkin colors are deadly baits for pre-spawn bass.
One of Gier's top big bass lures though is a 3/8-ounce jig with a number 11 pork
frog, which he uses on 12- pound test or less throughout April. He tries to
imitate crawfish colors by using a black jig and black pork frog in early spring
then switching to a brown-on-brown combination during the spawn. Gier says the
best way to work any of these lures this time of the year is "slow, slow,
During the first two weeks of
May, the bass go through their spawning ritual. "Whenever the water starts
tickling that 60-degree mark, then the bass will go into the pockets all over
the coves," Gier says. "They'll get under those cables around the
docks. That's their number one spawning place--just where they can really deal
you some havoc when you lay into one of those big babies." Gier makes it
even more challenging by using 8-pound test at this time.
In the early morning, the
bigger fish can be caught on jigs and pork frogs in front of the beds 6 feet
deep. When the sun comes up and the boat traffic starts, anglers will have to
switch to tube jigs and Flukes to catch nesting fish.
By the end of May, the bass
have usually completed the rigors of spawning and try to recuperate by hanging
around boat docks near sandy, gravel banks in the coves. "They're not
hungry and they've had two weeks of hard work before," Gier says of the
post-spawn fish. A few bass can still be coaxed into hitting by slowly dragging
a Carolina-rigged worm or lizard from the back corner of a dock to halfway along
the side of the floating structure. The fishing remains tough until the bass
move back into deep-water brush piles for the summer. Gier also entices
post-spawn bass with a unique retrieve of a jig and pork frog. Rapidly jerking
such a slow-moving lure seems unnatural, so to make his presentation more
lifelike Gier has devised a slow-motion ripping technique for the jig and its
The local angler begins this
technique by pitching a jig and pork frog to the shallows, then pulling it away
from the bank about 5 to 6 feet. Gier accomplishes this by pointing his rod
toward the bank at about the 9 o'clock position and then sweeping the rod back
until it's behind him. Gier then positions his rod in front of him at a
45-degree angle and keeps his line tight as he allows the jig to fall. He
believes this sweeping motion imitates a crawfish darting out of the shallow
rocks and then falling to the bottom. "The bass are looking up at that
crawdad coming over the top of them, then all of a sudden it flutters down to
the bottom," says Gier. "They will either bang it then or when you
jerk it up off the bottom and let it fall again."
Since he wants to match the
color of crawfish that time of year, Gier favors a brown 3/8-ounce jig with a
brown number 11 Uncle Josh pork frog.
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.