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Lake of the Ozarks Bass Like To Rock In April by John Neporadny Jr.
Category : BASS FISHING ARTICLES
Lake of the Ozarks Bass Like To Rock In April
by John Neporadny Jr.
The countless fleet of boat docks attracts bass at the Lake of
the Ozarks most of the time, except in April when the fish feel the
urge to spawn. Then the bass shun their classical floating cover
for the temptations of rock (chunk and pea gravel rather than Van
Halen or Aerosmith).
This 58,000-acre reservoir lost most of its natural cover when the
standing timber was cleared before the lake was formed in 1931.
New cover has developed over the years as dock owners and anglers
have planted brush piles throughout the lake. Bass also relate to
natural structure such as steep bluffs, chunk rock and pea gravel
banks, dropoffs and points. Lay-downs and logjams attract bass in
the undeveloped coves. Normal pool elevation for the lake is 660
feet above sea level.
The massive impoundment consists of three distinct sections–(1)
the lower end including the North Shore and Horseshoe Bend areas and
the Gravois arm; (2) the middle lake including the Osage arm from
Shawnee Bend to the Hurricane Deck bridge, Linn Creek, the Grand Glaize
and the Niangua and Little Niangua; (3) the upper end on the Osage
from Hurricane Deck bridge to Truman Dam. Giving tips on how to
fish these three sections will be local tournament anglers Bruce Gier and
Roger Fitzpatrick, both from Eldon, MO, and Marty McGuire, Camdenton, MO.
Let’s look at how these three anglers fish their favorite sections of Lake of the Ozarks
This section of the lake has the deepest and clearest water so it
also turns on last in the spring. Whereas bass could be in the prespawn
stage on the river arm of the lake, the bass in the dam area could
still be deep in mid-April. “That time of year concerns me. If it
was March, there would be no problem,” says Gier, who is tough to
beat in early spring tournaments when bass prefer suspending stickbaits. But in mid-April, the fish start moving off the winter pattern
to the pre-spawn stage on the lower end of the lake. “It can be tricky
on the North Shore and Gravois then or it can be won there too,”
The water temperature could be in the 40s then, but usually it’s
in the 50-degree range. When the water temperature moves into the
50- to 60-degree range, bass in transition become harder for Gier
to pattern. “They don’t know whether to chase a Rogue or catch a
crawdad,” he says.
Bass start moving off the chunk rock banks to
the pea gravel or into the brush piles less than 8 feet deep. On
sunny days, some fish l suspend under the foam of boat docks. “Those
fish are tough to get to strike, though” Gier says. The fish start
scattering from one end of a cove to the other, but the biggest bass
will still hold on the main lake points and other main channel structure.
If the fish remain on the main lake points, Gier throws a clown-colored
Luckycraft Pointer in April. When the water temperature climbs
above 50 degrees and the wind starts blowing, he switches to a 1/2-ounce
chartreuse-and-white spinnerbait with a gold willowleaf
blade and a silver Colorado blade he bumps along the chunk rock
Bass that have moved to the flat gravel banks fall for crawfish-color
Wiggle Warts during this time. “Every time you come to a 5- to 8-foot
deep brush pile, you better flip a jig into it,” advises Gier, who
relied on a jig and pork frog to win a Lake of the Ozarks Pro-Am
in April. “They will hit a jig anytime in April.” In clear water,
Gier prefers pitching a brown 3/8-ounce jig with a brown plastic chunk or if the water is off-colored he opts for a black-and-blue
combination. If the water temperature rises to 55 degrees, Gier starts
dragging a Carolina-rigged plastic lizard in green pumpkin, watermelon
seed or pumpkinseed and chartreuse along the gravel banks
Gier believes the lower end of the lake offers more consistent
fishing than the other sections. “You can catch a limit easier there,
but you might catch a wad of 15-inchers,” Gier warns. “I’ve come in
a lot of times with five fish that have weighed 12 pounds. ”
The diversity of structure in this section of the lake give anglers
a multiple choice of patterns to try in April “You have shallow-water
fishing. You can flip boat docks. You can fish points, dropoffs,
bluff lines and brush piles,” suggests Marty McGuire. “You can
fish every depth of water you want from 2 to 25 feet.” The back ends
of the feeder creeks and upper ends of the other tributaries offer
stained to murky water for flipping, or a move to the main channel
allows you to fish 20 feet deep in clear water.
“If you can find the fish normally you can catch a good limit in
between the Glaize and the Hurricane Deck bridges,” McGuire says.
There are just so many different things you can do in that area.
That part of the lake will produce just as many consistent winning
stringers as any part of the lake.” While bigger fish come from the
upper end of the lake during April, this area produces more consistent
fishing and has one particular arm that’s similar to the upper Osage.
“The Niangua is just like the river. It can produce the big stringer
or it produces nothing,” McGuire advises. “You can catch a big bag
of fish there or you may never have a bite all day long.” The Grand
Glaize arm has dirtier water in the spring, but is a small area that
succumbs easily to fishing pressure. McGuire notes the section of
the Grand Glaize near the Highway 54 bridge offers better fishing
because the area has more boat docks to hold bass.
The water temperature in the mid-section of the lake will range
anywhere from the mid-40s or low 50s on the main lake to around
60 degrees in the backs of the tributaries. While some fish will
still be deep, the majority of the bass will hold 4 to 9 feet deep.
If the water and weather remains cold, McGuire still catches bass
on a weighted suspending stickbait on the main lake points or in the back
ends of some coves. He uses a black and gray Rogue for clear water
and a fire tiger model for stained conditions.
As the water continues to warm, bass start moving into the back ends
of coves to the pea gravel banks. “If they aren’t on pea gravel, they
will be at the first bank that has chunk rock close to the pea gravel,”
McGuire says. Under normal water conditions, these fish can be taken
on Carolina-rigged Zoom plastic lizards in green pumpkin or watermelon
seed and chartreuse tail. Crawfish color Wiggle Warts and Bomber
Model 6A or 7A crankbaits or a shad-colored Rapala Shap Rap also
works well on the gravel banks.
During high and muddy water conditions, McGuire flips a black, black-and-blue
or brown 3/8-ounce jig and plastic chunk into
flooded bushes along the secondary points and farther back in the
coves. If the lake level remains high but just below the bushes,
McGuire searches for the steeper chunk rock banks in the sunshine.
“The fish will move right up in them rocks and right up on the banks
in the sawdust,” McGuire says.
This section of the lake has the same structure and cover as the
other areas, but it tends to have more stained water that warms up
faster in the spring. The section also contains plenty of chunk rock
and pea gravel banks bass prefer during that time of year. In the
shallower muddy creeks or the upper end of the river, the water temperature
could be in the 60- to 65-degree range by mid-April while the water
down by the Hurricane Deck bridge could be in the mid 50s.
“The river can be awfully good in April,” says Roger Fitzpatrick,
who grew up fishing this section of the lake. “I like the Hurricane
Deck area because there’s some ‘nothing looking’ banks there that
nobody ever fishes with a crankbait.” Other areas he favors include
the Little and Big Buffalo, Cole Camp and Turkey creeks.
Most fish in the river section will be in the prespawn stage although
some will be attempting to nest. One of the biggest drawbacks to
this area in the spring is the influence of Truman Dam. “If everything
is stable up there at that time of year, you can really have a good
day. If the fish are trying to go up on the beds and they are sucking
the lake down, it makes it a little tougher there,” says Fitzpatrick,
who suggests fishing down around the Hurricane Deck area since the
staging fish in that section are less affected by Truman Dam.
Wiggle Warts and Bomber Model A crankbaits produce plenty of bass
during mid-April on the upper Osage. Fitzpatrick suggests throwing
the crankbaits on 10- to 12-pound test line and retrieving the lure
slowly. The key is to keep the lure in contact with the gravel bottom
in the coves.
Fitzpatrick also targets lay-downs and boat docks less than 5 feet
deep along the flats in the coves. He usually tries to catch a limit
of fish by flipping a 3/8-ounce jig and craw in a black-and-blue
combination, then he pursues kicker fish by slow rolling a chartreuse-and-white
or yellow-and-white spinnerbait with gold blades.
When fishing the Lake of the Ozarks this April, remember the bass
start to rock on this reservoir just before the recreational boaters
do. 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 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.