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THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing GuideExpert Articles by John Neporadny Jr. - March 2015

Key on Sun, Wind for Early Spring Lake of the Ozarks Bass

by John Neporadny Jr.

Lots of sunshine and a little dash of wind awaken early spring bass from their winter slumber at Lake of the Ozarks.

"They are both a big key to catching bass," said Guido Hibdon, the 1988 BASS Masters Classic champion from Gravois Mills, Mo. "I've heard people talk about how bad an east or north wind hurts the fishing, but I believe any wind makes all the difference in the world. It doesn't make any difference what direction the wind is coming from just make sure you fish the wind."

Hibdon prefers a slight wind on a sunny day in early spring. "I hate to fish dead, slick water," he said. "It doesn't matter how cold it is, a little bit of breeze blowing straight in on a bank makes the fishing better."

The touring pro believes sunshine dictates when bass become active in the early spring. "I usually find the best fishing is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., " he suggested. "I look for the north banks that get the most exposure from the sun. The water temperature along those banks will warm up four to five degrees throughout the day, depending on how long the sunshine hits them and how calm the water is."

Banks with larger rocks also tend to warm up quicker. "The bigger the rocks, the better the water will warm," advised Hibdon. "I concentrate on any structure where the sun is beating down, such as creek channel banks or channel swings. These areas can be especially good if they have four or five docks there with sunken brush piles near them."

While bass seek shade during warm weather, the fish prefer the sunlight in early spring. "Sometimes you will find bass in the shady areas, but most of the time the fish will be right in the sun," Hibdon advised.

Down-sizing his lures works best for Hibdon on a bright, early spring day. "I use a smaller stickbait or spoonbill stickbait," said Hibdon. "I also fish a hair jig tipped with a fly strip or split-tail eel any time the water's cold. Another good lure for that time of year is a black/white 1/4- to 3/8-ounce spinnerbait with a short-arm single blade." Hibdon retrieves all of these lures slowly during early spring because the water temperature is still cold and the fish are sluggish.

After a severe cold front, water clarity at Lake of the Ozarks dictates when early spring bass bounce back from a cold spell. "On clear-water sections, you can catch fish on a sunny day right after a cold front or even in the nasty weather when the front hits if you can tolerate it," said Hibdon. He believes bass tend to shut down in the dirty water sections after a cold front, so it could take at least a day of sunshine before the fish perk up again.

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.

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