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Nasty Weather Pattern Produces Hefty Bass On Lake of the Ozarks by John Neporadny Jr.
Category : BASS FISHING ARTICLES
Nasty Weather Pattern Produces Hefty Bass On Lake of the Ozarks
by John Neporadny Jr.
Those cold, nasty days in February can produce some of the heaviest
stringers of the year while jerking a suspended stick bait on Lake
of the Ozarks.
“All the days I can remember in February where we’ve caught a lot
of fish were always the nastiest days where you would almost freeze
to death,” says Marty McGuire, a Camdenton, Mo., angler who has finished
in the money in B.A.S.S. invitationals held on his home lake and the
owner of Marty’s Marine in Osage Beach, Mo. While some fish can be
caught on McGuire’s suspending stickbait technique on sunny days, his pattern
produces its best numbers of fish and biggest bass in cold, windy
and snowy weather.
Water temperature also plays a key role in this pattern. The water
temperature varies from 39 to 45 degrees in February. “The fish seem
to be really biting on this technique when the water temperature hits
about 42 degrees,” McGuire says.
Water clarity is also important, so McGuire concentrates on the clear
water areas around the dam and in the Gravois arm during this time
of year. When the water starts to warm in March, the technique then
works anywhere from the dam to the 35- or 40-mile mark of the Osage
A low lake level, which usually occurs in February, helps pull the
fish out of any shallow cover and position them on the deeper structure,
making bass easier to pinpoint. Even though the fish are near deep
water, McGuire believes 90 percent of the time the bass will be suspended
less than 10 feet deep over the structure.
The most productive structures for this pattern are bluff ends, pockets
in bluff lines and points. McGuire has also taken bass suspended over
brush piles in 10 to 12 feet of water or hiding in the shade under
docks along the main channel. “You have to pretty well stick to the
main channel,” he advises.
While his boat is sitting over 60 to 70 feet of water, McGuire throws
his Rogue to bass that are within 5 to 8 feet of the surface. “Most
of the time you can find them in schools where they are out there
trying to get a bite of shad every once in a while,” says McGuire.
He knows he has found a promising spot when he sees dying baitfish
fluttering to the surface. The suspending Rogue imitates the action
of a dying shad.
McGuire likes to throw a stickbait with black
back, yellow and green sides and chartreuse belly or a ghost or shad-color
model. He prefers using a medium diver (4 1/2 inch) over a
magnum model (5 1/2 inch). “You can catch bigger fish on the magnum,
but you can catch a lot of 4- and 5-pound fish on that medium-size
stickbait,” McGuire says. “Most of the time when you catch 4- or 5-pound
fish you’re doing okay.”
McGuire works his stickbait on a fairly stiff 6 1/2-foot spinning rod
and a spinning reel filled with 8-pound test line. He feels he can
throw his lure farther into the wind with the spinning tackle. “The
farther you can throw at the start, the better chance you have of
finding the fish.” Long casts allow him to position his boat farther
from the shoreline, which becomes necessary since the fish will be
anywhere from the bank out to 100 yards off the shore.
An extremely slow retrieve works best since the water is cold and
the fish aren’t in a chasing mood. “Some guys say the retrieve is
slow enough to where you can stop and drink a soda,” McGuire says.
“The slower you fish it, the better chance a bass has to eat it.”
McGuire never jerks the lure; he just slowly pulls it down to the
strike zone and then lets it sit for awhile before pulling again.
“Ninety-nine percent of the time the fish will hit the bait when it
is sitting still,” he says. Feeling resistance on your line when you
pull the lure signals a strike.
Fishing on a cold, miserable day in February might be well worth the
trouble if you can pull that stickbait through a school of heavyweight
Lake of the Ozarks bass. 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 sitewww.jnoutdoors.com