Articles by John Neporadny Jr. - April
Catching Lake of the Ozarks Suspended
By John Neporadny Jr.
I was catching spawning crappie in the shallows
behind my dock each morning at Lake of the Ozarks, but the action died on sunny
afternoons until I discovered a new batch of fish hanging around my dock well.
On one of those sunny afternoons, I happened to
glance down in the well and spotted several slab-size crappie suspended in the
shade below one of our boat lifts. I immediately grabbed a rod and reel with
4-pound line and jigged a tiny tube above the suspending fish. I watched a
couple of fish rise to the lure and one engulfed it.
After catching three of the suspending crappie,
I watched the rest of the school descend and finally disappear. The bite stopped
then, but when I returned to the well about an hour later the fish were back
under the boat lift again and I caught a couple more fish before the school
From this experience and other springtime
trips, I have learned to look for bigger fish suspended out in front of the
spawning banks whenever crappie are nesting in the shallows. Savvy anglers at
the lake know that while smaller male crappie are building and protecting nests
in the shallows, females are suspended around cover in deeper water.
Two Lake of the Ozarks anglers target floating
docks to catch larger crappie during the spawn. Jamie Bryant and Andrew Renken,
a Crappiemasters Tournament Trail team from Laurie, Mo., usually catch their
biggest fish during the spawning season along the sides and in front of the
“The thing to keep in mind is females spawn
in different stages,” says Bryant. “They move in and they move out and
Pitching a jig to the dock and letting it
pendulum back to the boat is Bryant’s favorite way to catch suspended
springtime crappie. He chooses a Slab Buster jig, Kalin’s grub or 1 1/2-inch
Bass Assassin Shad with a 1/8-ounce jighead that he delivers on 4- to 6-pound
solar green Berkley Trilene line. The Missouri angler opts for the 1/8-ounce jig
because it falls faster to trigger a reaction strike, but if he perceives the
fish are holding tighter to the foam or boat lifts, he switches to a 1/32-ounce
jig so the lure will descend slower and stay in the strike zone longer.
A jig set 3 to 5 feet below a weighted bobber
is one of Renken’s most productive tactics for suspending crappie around
docks. “Occasionally I will catch them in front of a well if I cast up into
the well,” says Renken, who will also vertical jig with a 1/16- or 1/32-ounce
When tossing a weighted cork around the docks,
Renken pulls the bobber down to about a 90-degree angle and then lets it sit
upright again. “You can almost keep your rod still while you do that but you
will still get movement to the jig,” says Renken, who lets the jig sit for
about 30 seconds after moving the cork. “A lot of times that slow movement
triggers a reaction strike more so than a fast retrieve. If you let it sit
there, the fish hammer it.”
Running the banks can produce a lot of crappie
during the spawn, but if you prefer catching a limit of Lake of the Ozarks
slabs, look for docks in deeper water to hook up with some suspending
For information on lodging and other
facilities at the Lake of the Ozarks or to receive a free 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.