Articles by John Neporadny Jr. -
Cashing In On Lake of Ozarks Bank Changes
By John Neporadny Jr.
Bass live mostly in a state of transition either
following their food or their urges to reproduce.
These aquatic nomads migrate from deep-water haunts to
the shallows by following traditional migration routes. In the Lake of the
Ozarks, the migration routes are usually creek and river channels that allow the
fish to move from deep-water structure where the fish reside in the summer and
winter to the shallow flats where bass spawn in the springtime and gorge on
baitfish in the fall.
The key to finding bass as they make their seasonal treks
is to locate transition banks, which serve as holding areas along the migration
routes. “A transition bank is where you really have to key on the change in the
rocks,” says Scott Pauley, a tournament angler from Columbia, MO. “In other
parts of the country you look for grass and other things along the banks but
here we look at the angle of the bank and the type of rocks as keys to
finding bass. So here a transition is where the bank changes from bluff rock to
chunk rock to pea gravel.”
Looking at a topographic map will help you find some
transition banks before you head out onto the lake. Pauley looks for spots
on the map where the depth lines tighten. “But I’ve got to look at the rock or
the bank itself before I can tell for sure if it is a good transition spot,” he
Pauley honed his skills while fishing Eldon Bass Club
tournaments at Lake of the Ozarks. He has discovered bass in this Osage
River reservoir use the creek channels as roadways to move from the steeper
banks to the flat gravel banks throughout the seasons.
Classic examples of transition banks at Lake of the
Ozarks are spots where the channel swings in tight close to a point and the bank
changes from bluffs to chunk rocks. The spot where chunk rocks change to pea
gravel is another key transition area on these lakes.
Transition banks on these impoundments can vary in
length. “It seems like at Lake of the Ozarks when you are fishing the
transitions you can be on the exact spot where a bluff bank meets a chunk rock
bank or the exact spot of where a chunk rock bank meets a pea gavel bank,” says
Transition spots next to points might require fishing the
whole point, while other transition banks only require keying on a smaller area.
“Sometimes the fish are exactly in a spot no bigger than the length of your boat
and then sometimes they are down a half mile,” suggests Pauley.
Sweet spots can be found along the transition banks.
“Look for any swing or indentation along the bank whether it is a bluff, chunk
rock or pea gravel bank,” advises Pauley. “If all of a sudden there is a little
indentation—maybe the size of a table—that spot will seem to hold one or two
fish more than any place else along the bank.”
Isolated cover also becomes sweet spots along these
banks. Boat docks at Lake of the Ozarks are the best shelters for bass along
Seasonal patterns dictate which transition banks produce
throughout the year at Lake of the Ozarks. In the winter, Pauley keys on the
steeper banks where he works a Suspending Rattlin’ Rogue or a jig-and-craw
combination. When the water warms in the early spring (late February to early
April), Pauley focuses on the chunk rock banks and throws a Storm Wiggle
Wart crankbait or a jig. From late April to June, Pauley follows the bass
to the pea gravel banks and catches spawning and post-spawn fish on jigs, tube
baits, topwater lures and Flukes. As the water continues to heat up, the fish
move back to the drop-offs where Pauley catches them on plastic worms or tube
During the fall, Pauley keys on isolated stickups and
root wads along transition banks in the major creeks. His favorite tactic is to
burn a 1/ 2-ounce Rat-L-Trap in a Silverado color along the wood cover, a
technique that helped Pauley grab the lead in the opening round of the 1999
Missouri Bassmaster Invitational at Lake of the Ozarks.
Weather conditions and the presence of baitfish will also
determine where bass will be positioned on transition banks. “If the shad are at
10 feet then the bass will be feeding at 10 feet,” suggests Pauley. He
also believes wind moves the fish up to the shallows and positions them in the
indentations along the bank. However post-frontal conditions call for a change
in tactics or location.
“If you’re catching them the day before on a spinnerbait
or crankbait but they won’t touch it you have to go to the jig and slow down,”
recommends Pauley. “They may be in the same place but you may have to slow down
to catch them or the fish may pull out a little bit deeper.”
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.