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

Lake of the Ozarks Spotted Fever

by John Neporadny Jr.

A slow growth rate and short life expectancy can give any living creature a mean disposition. That's probably why spotted bass have such mean streaks.

Since its days are numbered and it always has to compete for food against larger predators, a spotted bass viciously attacks anything that crosses its path. I've experienced the jarring strikes of spotted bass numerous times, but the best example of their aggressive nature occurs when they hit a topwater lure. On many occasions, I've had what I perceived was a big fish explode on my topwater lure, but when I landed the fish, it was a 14-inch spotted bass. Other times these ferocious fish have attacked my surface plug so hard that they jumped completely over the lure or knocked it out of the water.

This type of action is common to anglers at the Lake of the Ozarks since the spotted bass shares the waters with its largemouth cousin. In appearance, spotted bass look more like largemouth than smallmouth. Some distinguishing features can help you tell the two species apart. A spotted bass has a rough patch on its tongue, which largemouth lack. The spiny dorsal and soft ray fins of a largemouth bass are nearly separated, while the two sets of fins on the spotted bass are well-connected. Examining the fish's jaw will also help you identify the bass. The upper jaw of a largemouth extends far beyond the back of its eye, and a spotted bass' upper jaw stretches to the eye or only a fraction past it.

Crayfish are the principal diet of spotted bass in the rocky areas of the lake. They will also eat the aboundant shad found in the reservoir.

Spotted bass provide plenty of year-round action at the Lake of the Ozarks. "Most of the year, they're caught right along with largemouth," says Greg Stoner, MDC fisheries biologist. "From my experience, they will stay active a little longer in the winter than largemouth."

A higher percentage of spotted bass dwell in the lower ends of the lake's four major arms where the habitat is more favorable. "Spotted bass tend to relate a little more to chuck rock banks and bluffs," says Stoner. This type of structure is more abundant in the lower ends, along with a multitude of docks--another favorite dwelling place for spotted bass.

Anglers can catch numerous spotted bass in the 12- to 14-inch range at the lake. Productive lures for catching Lake of the Ozarks spotted bass include jigs and pork frogs, plastic grubs, 4-inch finesse worms, spinnerbaits and topwater lures. Bait-cast or spinning tackle with 6- to 14-pound test line works best for spots on this lake.

The Osage River below Lake of the Ozarks is another prime spot for catching spotted bass. "Every hole is full of them all the way to the Missouri River," claims Bruce Gier, an Eldon, Mo., angler. Osage River spotted bass prefer deep rocky holes, where they can be taken with crankbaits, spinnerbaits, topwater lures and jigs. The fish range in size from 12 inches up to 4 1/2 pounds, Gier says.

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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