Articles by John Neporadny Jr. - May
Lake of the Ozarks Topwater Largemouths
By John Neporadny Jr.
Plop, plop, plop. Ka-Woosh.
Any Lake of the Ozarks angler who has
experienced the thrill of topwater action knows these sounds of a plug popping
across the surface followed by the attack of a largemouth bass.
All other tactics for catching bass pales in
comparison to the excitement of a largemouth busting the surface to engulf a
topwater bait. Lake of the Ozarks bass can be coaxed into attacking topwater
lures from late spring to late fall but late April through May is the prime time
for surface action. During this time bass will be feeding heavily before going
on the nest, guarding a nest or guarding fry which makes them vulnerable to any
lure buzzing, popping or walking above them.
During the summer, you have to throw surface
lures early and late in the day to trigger strikes, but I have experienced good
topwater action all day long—even on sunny afternoons—during May. Water
clarity often dictates which topwater lure works best. Buzz baits generally
produce best in murky water while a variety of surface plugs catch bass in
stained to clear water.
Largemouth on my home lake usually start
busting surface lures in late April when the fish are on the beds, and the
topwater action heats up in May during the postspawn. My favorite topwater for
Lake of the Ozarks is the Heddon Zara Spook in either baby bass or flitter shad
(known locally as the Christmas tree color). The Spook is so effective because
it can be worked at various speeds, but I have found the best presentation is a
steady walk-the-dog retrieve. On many occasions I have seen fish follow the lure
and I have drawn more strikes by speeding up my retrieve rather than stopping
I prefer fishing the clear-water section of the
lake from the Gravois arm to the dam area where I key on the protected gravel
pockets during early May. Male bass will either be on nests behind dock cables
or along sea walls from 3 to 6 feet deep, but the hefty females will usually be
suspended along the sides of the docks. You can catch plenty of 2-pounders
working the Spook along the sea walls and open banks, but you need to walk the
plug along the back or the shady side of a dock to catch 4- to 5-pounders.
This is the only time of the year when I prefer
fishing topwaters on sunny afternoons. The sunshine warms the water to activate
bass and baitfish and the bright conditions position the bigger fish in the
shady areas under the dock, which makes them susceptible to the Spook sashaying
in front of them.
From the middle to the end of May bass have
moved out to either secondary or main lake points. The fish will still hit a
Spook, but these open areas tend to have more wind so a Rebel Pop-R usually
works better. On the windiest days, I switch to a Gilmore Jumper, a large
double-blade prop bait that produces a lot of splash when jerked hard.
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.