Articles by John Neporadny Jr. -
Dock shooting for Lake of the Ozarks slabs
By John Neporadny Jr.
“Dock shooting” is one of the most
effective tactics for catching Lake of the Ozarks crappies tucked up in the
shady areas of docks.
A local guide who shoots for crappie at the
lake is Terry Blankenship. He had to learn the technique in order to compete
with the shooters on his home waters of Lake of the Ozarks since the lake
contains thousands of docks.
The technique can pay big dividends for those
who learn how to become expert marksmen since the tactic reaches fish that are
inaccessible for anglers with 10- or 11-foot dipping poles.
“The tendency of crappies is that they like
to get under the darkest areas of those docks,” says Blankenship. “A lot of
times whenever you shoot a jig way back into those dark areas a lot of your
better fish are the first ones that will bite and they will bite really quickly
in 2 to 4 foot of water.”
Blankenship’s favorite skipping lure is also
a large plastic projective, a 3-inch Bobby Garland Slab Slayer attached to a
1/16-ounce Bobby Garland Mo’ Glo jighead. He believes the 1/16-ounce jighead
is the ideal size for skipping, since a 1/32-ounce head is too light to propel
the lure and a 1/8-ounce model tends to plow into the water and dives too fast.
The local guide skips his lures with 6-pound
test Vicious Panfish HiVis Yellow line that allows him to detect any line
movement indicating a bite when the lure falls in the dark spaces of the dock.
“One of the key things is to get a line that doesn’t coil up real bad,”
says Blankenship, who soaks his spool with line conditioner before a tournament.
A good lure launcher is another key to
effective dock shooting. When he was a kid, Blankenship learned he could sling
persimmons farther on a longer hickory stick, so he relies on the same principle
today with his shooting rod. He uses a 7-foot Cabela’s XMLTi medium-action
spinning rod that has plenty of flexibility for loading up the line like a
bowstring yet is stout enough to allow Blankenship to control his shot in close
Relying on Humminbird 997 and 998 side imaging
units have made it easier for Blankenship to find the best docks among the
thousands to choose from on Lake of the Ozarks. “For crappie fishing that side
imaging is one of the greatest tools I have ever seen for locating fish,” the
local angler says. “If there is a row of 10 docks if I take my time and check
those docks out, I can minimize my time greatly by finding the one dock with
fish on it instead of having to fish all 10. I can go about anywhere on the lake
and feel like I can catch fish, whereas before I felt like I had to work a
little harder at it.”
His side imaging units have taught Blankenship
that the looks of a dock above water can be deceiving compared to what’s
happening below the surface. Most anglers target the dock wells and walkways
where they suspect brush piles are hidden, but Blankenship notices more crappies
under the swim platform and large deck areas of docks. “Those are the ones
that the fish really seem to school under more than just the 4-foot walkways,”
When scanning a uniform row of docks,
Blankenship sets his unit’s side imaging range at 40 feet to show the most
detail on his screen. With his unit fine-tuned, Blankenship can discern the
difference between crappies and baitfish on his graph. “Crappies basically
show up as a bunch of little specks,” says Blankenship. “The difference
between crappies and shad is the shad seem to be more of a cloud on the screen
whereas crappies tend to be more of a bunch of specks.” Blankenship originally
suspected the specks were gizzard shad when he first started using the side
imaging unit, but he soon learned the images were crappies when he would shoot
his jig into the targeted area and kept catching fish.
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.