Articles by John Neporadny Jr. -
Casting for Lake of the Ozarks Winter
By John Neporadny Jr.
As long as the Lake of the Ozarks remains
ice-free, savvy anglers know they can catch a mess of crappies in the dead of
Even though the cold water and frigid weather
make crappies lethargic at times, the fish still have to eat so Lake of the
Ozarks anglers who brave the cold and employ the right tactics can still enjoy
some wintertime action for these popular panfish. During the dead of winter,
crappie can be found suspended over brush piles in the backs of creek coves or
hugging the bottom on main lake bluffs.
With a few alterations, the same techniques
that trigger strikes in other seasons also produce crappie during winter.
Lake of the Ozarks guide Terry Blankenship
casts jigs to brush piles to catch crappie year-round, but in the wintertime he
makes a slight adjustment to his presentation. “I get a little closer to the
piles so when I cast to them my jig’s fall rate is a lot slower,” he says.
Blankenship keys on brush piles 15 to 30 feet
deep and throws his jigs past the cover. He retrieves his lure above the brush
on the first couple of casts to pick off the most aggressive fish. “If the
fish are on top of the brush or above it those fish are active and they are
going to bite,” he says.
Letting his jig fall into the brush also
produces for Blankenship. “Any time you can wiggle that jig around in that
brush and then it just pops loose a little bit it creates a reaction strike,”
says Blankenship, who opts for a 1/16-ounce jighead and Bobby Garland Baby Shad
for his brush pile tactics.
Since a suspending stickbait best resembles a
crappie’s favorite wintertime meal, local angler Wayne Fitzpatrick opts for
this shad imitator to work over the top of brush piles at Lake of the Ozarks.
Fitzpatrick looks for the shady sides of docks
along 45-degree banks in the backs of coves to catch suspended wintertime
crappies. “You also have to have shad around,” he says. “If you don’t
have any shad you won’t find any crappies. I have had some of my better days
when the sun is shining and there is a little bit of breeze.”
A clown color LuckyCraft Pointer works best for
Fitzpatrick for twitching it above schools of suspending crappies. “One of the
little secrets is I take lead wire and wrap it around the front hook so the bait
will fall real, real slow,” Fitzpatrick says. “If you know crappies are
there just let that stickbait sit and fall.” Winter crappies suspended over
the brush have a hard time resisting such an easy target.
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.