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THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing GuideExpert Articles by John Neporadny Jr. - March 2016

Bank Fishing at Bagnell Dam

By John Neporadny Jr.

Fishing from the banks of a dam tailrace always kept me in suspense when I was a kid.

I just never knew what I was going to hook next when I fished below dams on the Mississippi River and Carlyle Lake in Illinois. Most of the time we caught crappie and white bass, but my other catches from the tailraces included walleye, sauger, largemouth bass, yellow bass, catfish, carp, buffalo, gar and paddlefish.

Eldon, Mo., angler John Vernon has spent several decades bank fishing the Bagnell Dam tailrace below Lake of the Ozarks. He catches crappie and white bass throughout the year as long as some current is flowing.

Bank fishing at the Bagnell Dam tailrace can be a productive yet inexpensive way to catch panfish throughout the year if you can learn how to read the water. Ask any local tailrace expert about the bank fishing in the Bagnell Dam tailrace and they will tell you it’s a waste of time to try it if there is no flow from the dam.

A strong current makes it easier for Vernon to find tailrace panfish. He notices the fish move shallower along the rocks during heavy current, especially when all the floodgates of Bagnell Dam are open.

A double tube jig system without a bobber works best for Vernon when fishing from a tailrace bank. He opts for tubes in red-and-chartreuse and purple-and-white color combinations with 1/8-ounce jigheads that he ties about 18 inches apart on 8-pound test line.

The tailrace veteran keys on the eddies and varies the speed of his retrieve depending on the strength of the current. “It is always better to fish in the eddy or downstream slightly,” he reveals. “You also have to keep the jigs moving the whole time or you’ll get them hung up.”

Using a countdown method after casting helps Vernon avoid losing too many jigs to hang-ups. “If you count to 10 seconds and get hung up, try counting to only 8 or 9 the next cast,” advises Vernon. Once he finds the right count that triggers strikes yet keeps his lures away from snags, Vernon uses the same count on the rest of his casts.

Line watching also prevents Vernon from snagging his jigs. “Watch the speed of your retrieve and if your line starts to slack that means you’re going to get hung up right away,” says Vernon, who avoids hanging up by giving his rod a short yank to straighten out the line and pull the jigs away from the rocks

If you’re limited to fishing from the bank, then get a 5-gallon bucket (for holding your fish), grab a rod and reel and a small tacklebox full of jigheads and soft plastic tubes and grubs and head for the Bagnell Dam tailrace. You’re bound to catch plenty of crappie and white bass and whatever else swims there.

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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