Articles by John Neporadny Jr. - December
Lake of the Ozarks’ Gravois Arm Is Clearly A
By John Neporadny Jr.
The 10-mile Gravois arm is one of the oldest
developed sections of the Lake of the Ozarks so its shoreline is dotted with
boat docks. Whereas other sections have more docks for yachts and off-shore
racing boats, the Gravois features more docks owned by fishermen who sink plenty
of brush piles to attract bass and crappie.
Fed by the gin-clear waters of the Gravois,
Little Gravois, Spring Branch, Soap, Indian and Mill creeks, this arm usually
remains one of the clearest sections of the lake throughout the year.
The upper end turns murky quickly from rain
runoff, but the flow from the creeks also flushes out the dirty water faster
than on other arms of the lake. The warmer water from the feeder creeks causes
the Gravois to warm quicker than other arms in the spring which makes the
Gravois one of the most popular spots to fish for bass in February and March.
The structure on this arm is similar to the
North Shore with plenty of deep water on the main channel and long creek coves
filled with numerous gravel pockets that are ideal spawning banks for bass.
Other attractive structure for fish on this arm includes plenty of main and
secondary points, creek channels, bluffs, gravel flats and some old road beds.
Missouri State Highway Patrolman Scott Pauley
honed his skills fishing the Gravois arm while a member of the Eldon Bass Club
in the early 1990s and relied on this section of the lake to lead the 1999
BASSMASTER Missouri Invitational at Lake of the Ozarks and eventually finish in
From December through March, Pauley usually
depends on two lures to catch bass on the Gravois arm. He selects a Suspending
Rattlin’ Rogue (silver/black/orange or clown color) for suspended bass or a
brown Jewel Eakins’ Pro Model Jig tipped with a Jewel Eakins’ Pro Model
Craw, Chompers Twin Tail plastic grub or a Bass Pro Shops XPS Single Tail Grub
for bottom-hugging bass. When jerking the Rogue, Pauley uses 8-pound test line;
he opts for 10-pound test fluorocarbon line for working his jig.
The most productive spots for wintertime bass
on the Gravois include main and secondary points and transition banks where the
shoreline changes from bluffs to chunk rock and gravel. “The real key to Lake
of the Ozarks is the angle of the bank and the types of rocks,” advises
Pauley. “Once you figure that out you are on your way to putting a pattern
together.” Classic examples of transition banks on the Gravois are spots where
the creek channel swings close to a point and the bank changes from bluffs to
45-degree chunk rock shores or from the chunk rock to a flat pea gravel
During the winter and early spring, Pauley
starts fishing the main lake points and then works his way into the coves until
he finds the fish. He rates February and March as the prime months to catch big
bass on the Gravois arm, especially after a three-or four-day warming trend.
Another prime time to catch trophy bass on the Gravois is from the first week of
November until Christmas.
When the water temperature rises into the upper
50s and low 60s in the spring, Pauley switches tactics to catch prespawn bass.
“Once the water starts warming it seems like the fish go to plastics right
before the spawn and close to the spawn,” says Pauley. He drags a
Carolina-rigged plastic lizard or split-shot rigged finesse worm or French Fry
worm for bass along the pea gravel banks. His favorite colors for these soft
plastics include watermelon or green pumpkin in clear water and dark colors
(black-and-blue or black neon) for murky conditions.
When the fish lock onto their nests Pauley
relies on a Zoom finesse worm attached to a 1/8-ounce jighead. A tube jig also
catches nesting fish in off-colored water. The best spots to find spawning bass
are pea gravel cuts or backs of pockets with either steep or flat banks.
During the postspawn stage, Pauley finds fish
close to the spawning areas first and as the water temperature continues to warm
he follows the migrating fish out to deep structure. The first area bass move to
from the spawning banks are flat, rounded secondary points.
A Zara Spook or Cotton Cordell Jointed Red Fin
worked on 10- to 12-pound test line produces plenty of exciting topwater action
for Pauley during the postspawn. If the fish are reluctant to attack his surface
lures, Pauley switches to flipping a magnum tube bait or a 10- to 11-inch
plastic worm in blue flake, tequila sunrise or electric blue. He Texas rigs the
lures with a 3/0 or 4/0 wide gap worm hook that he ties on 20-pound test line. A
1/ 4-ounce weight works best for Pauley when flipping the shallows but he opts
for a 1/ 2-ounce weight when he works his worm at depths of 20 feet or more.
On sunny summer days, Pauley likes to pitch a
Texas-rigged magnum tube bait (3/16-ounce Lake Fork Mega Weight and Owner Rig’N
Hook on 20-pound test line) to any visible cover. He selects a green pumpkin
tube for pitching in clear water and a black/red flake model for murky water.
Night fishing produces the most consistent
action on the Gravois during the heat of summer. Pauley opts for a 7- to 10-inch
plastic worm in black or dark purple hues that he works through the sunken brush
at depths of 15 to 20 feet.
When the shad migrate to the backs of creeks in
October and November, Pauley targets the baitfish schools to find bass. “The
schools of shad roam on the big flats and are so thick that it seems like you
can walk on them sometimes,” he says.
Swimming a white Jewel Pro Model Jig and white
Jewel Pro Model Craw produces bass for Pauley in the fall, but his favorite
tactic involves a Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap. During the Bassmaster tournament,
Pauley caught a hefty limit to take the first-day lead while burning a
shad-pattern Rat-L-Trap (green back and pearl sides) on 15-pound test line. On
sunny days, bass in the upper ends of the creeks use isolated stumps, tree roots
and lay-downs as ambush points so Pauley bangs his lipless crankbait into the
cover to trigger a reaction strike.
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.