Articles by John Neporadny Jr. - May
Flip Docks in May for Lake of the Ozarks
by John Neporadny Jr.
Even though bass will be in different stages of
spawning during May on the Lake of the Ozarks, one pattern remains consistent
throughout the month.
Harold Stark, a tournament competitor from
Eldon, Mo., can catch bass in three stages of the spawn (pre-spawn, spawn and
post-spawn) all at one time by flipping jigs behind boat docks on the lower end
of the lake. Since the water temperature runs from 59 degrees at the beginning
of the month to 75 degrees by the end of May, the flipping pattern produces best
because the fish will stay behind the docks the entire month.
Stark prefers fishing from the dam area to the
35-mile marker of the Osage arm since this area contains more boat docks.
"There are also so many bigger coves in that area and they all have more
cuts to fish." The ideal locations to try are behind docks in small
indentations or cuts in the banks of bigger coves. The cuts should have a bank
consisting of both pea gravel and chunk rock. "Cuts that sit in closer to
the main part of the cove (near deep water) are best," says Stark.
This pattern produces best in stained water
with the lake level at or above normal stage. The higher the lake level, the
move cover available for bass behind the docks, Stark says. He usually finds
fish 2 to 5 feet deep near any available cover. The most appealing docks to bass
contain the most junk in the rear section of the floating structure.
"You're fishing the ramps, the cables and any brush that might be behind
the dock then," Stark says. Even the cables dangling in the water will hold
fish during this time.
When Stark finds an ideal dock, he works it
deliberately and thoroughly. He skips past the front end and sides of the dock
and concentrates his efforts behind the cables. "If you think a fish is in
a spot, flip to it more than once," Stark advises, "Generally though
at that time of year, when you flip in and that fish is there, it usually bites
right away." When he finishes behind one side, he will move around the dock
and work the other backside.
His favorite lure to flip is a 5/16- to
9/16-ounce jig with a plastic chunk. He prefers a brown jig with a black and red
chunk. He also always adds a fish attractant to his jig-and-chunk combo. Stark
uses 14- to 25-pound test line, depending on the water clarity. In clear water,
he selects lighter line and switches to the heavier monofilament in darker
Flipping works better than pitching in this
situation. "You want to get in there just as quiet as you can," Stark
says. "You can pitch it, but if you pitch too far back and you hook one,
then you have to get him out from behind those cables. If you're too far away
then you're not going to get him out."
After flipping his lure to a target, Stark
quickly retrieves the jig. "Put it in there, jig it a couple of times, then
move it on out." He says the fish are aggressive enough during that time of
year that they will usually hit the lure on the initial fall.
The flipping pattern produces best under bright
skies when the fish hold tighter to the cover behind the docks. During cloud
cover the bass will roam all over the back of the dock. Stark says the fish will
hit more aggressively but you just have to scatter your flips to more areas
behind the dock.
While flipping behind docks produces bigger
fish, keeper-size bass will fall for tube baits thrown on a 1/16-ounce jighead
with spinning tackle. Another successful pattern for getting a limit in a hurry
is to throw a buzz bait. Stark suggests keeping your boat parallel to the bank
and the trolling motor constantly running while you work the buzz bait along the
whole bank of a cove. An effective pre- and post-spawn pattern during this time
is throwing a Carolina-rigged plastic lizard along pea-gravel secondary points
and channel banks in coves.
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.