LAKE OF THE OZARKS, Mo. – The full moon is on the way Saturday to pull in the final wave of the bass and crappie spawn. It’s been a strange spring filled with warm days and erratic Lake levels.
As fishermen eyed the banks waiting for spawn, much of the bass population laid eggs in main-lake pockets and shelf rock. Bagnell Dam operators pulled the Lake back twice this spring and were forced by hard rains to run water through the Dam at full generation for the last week to continue next week.
“Fish just do not commit to going back in coves during heavy generation,” local pro fishermen Jim Dill said.
Dill is catching fish with bloody tails and clearly past the spawn stage.
“With the full moon coming, there will be a final wave that might move back in coves, but right now I’m catching fish toward mid-lake points, along channel swings, and some on secondary points,” Dill said.
The shad spawn is in full swing and schools are tight mid-cove and moving towards main lake.
“The fishing is about to really turn on. Bass will start schooling tight following groups of shad,” Dill said. “Throw a ¾ ounce Crock-O-Gator Reaction Jig or Football Jig with a big trailer, like a Netbait Baby Paca Craw. Pick up the speed of the retrieve, pop it off the bottom three feet deep and imitate shad action.”
Topwater lures are still effective in the early morning on bluff ends and commercial docks. “Once the sun comes up, hit the shadow of the dock with your topwater. They’ll be caught like that for a while,” Dill said. Throw a Spook or Crock-O-Gator Headknocker. “On sunny days pitch white or chrome. When it’s overcast use black,” Dill said.
The next cycle, as summer approaches, will send bass to bluff ends and isolated brush piles, off points. So, as the water warms and boating traffic picks up, grab a Sinko Bait and a Shaker Pro Head.
After the catch, pull the hook out quickly and get the fish back in the water as soon as possible. “Try to lip ‘em and keep your hands off them,” Dill said. The females are weak from the spawn and are feeding heavily. As the water warms, it is crucial bass do not spend too much time out of the water.
Crappie fishing is getting better, according to Ed Bryant of Bryant’s Osage Outdoors. He suggests hitting docks with blue and silver jigs 6-8 feet deep in clear water. “The fish are in the same spot, but they’re a couple feet deeper because the Lake level is up two feet,” Bryant said. He suggests a 1/16-ounce jig head — 1/8 if it’s windy. Jig off of docks and into spawning banks. Byant predicts the full moon Saturday will bring the crappie to life.
MID-COUNTY FIRE CRAPPIE TOURNAMENT
The Mid-County Firefighters Association will sponsor a crappie tournament on Saturday, May 5 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Larry R. Gale Access off Hwy. AA in Roach, Mo. Cost to enter the tournament is $50 per 2-man team. Sign-in begins at 6 a.m. There will be a 50 percent payback, with one place paid for every 10 boats entered. There will be several other prizes awarded, too. Teams will weigh a combined 15 best fish. For complete rules or to register, contact Chairman Jake Dill at (573) 427-9873 or Tisha Holden at (573) 216-8527.
(Jim Dill is professional bass fisherman, firefighter, and fishing guide at Lake of the Ozarks, Mo. He is sponsored by Sportworld Boat Center, Ranger Boats, Evinrude, Falcon Rods and Crock-O-Gator Bait Company)