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The 10-mile Gravois arm is one of the oldest developed
sections of the
Fed by the gin-clear waters of the Gravois, Little Gravois,
Spring Branch, Soap, Indian and Mill creeks, this arm usually
remains one of the clearest sections of the lake throughout the
The upper end turns murky quickly from rain runoff, but the
flow from the creeks also flushes out the dirty water faster than on
other arms of the lake. The
warmer water from the feeder creeks causes the Gravois to warm
quicker than other arms in the spring which makes the Gravois one of
the most popular spots to fish for bass in February and March.
The structure on
this arm is similar to the
Missouri State Highway Patrolman Scott Pauley honed his
skills fishing the Gravois arm while a member of the Eldon Bass Club
in the early 1990s and relied on this section of the lake to lead
the 1999 BASSMASTER Missouri Invitational at
From December through March, Pauley usually depends on two
lures to catch bass on the Gravois arm.
He selects a Suspending Rattlin’ Rogue (silver/black/orange
or clown color) for suspended bass or a brown Jewel Eakins’ Pro
Model Jig tipped with a Jewel Eakins’ Pro Model Craw, Chompers
Twin Tail plastic grub or a Bass Pro Shops XPS Single Tail Grub for
bottom-hugging bass. When
jerking the Rogue, Pauley uses 8-pound test line; he opts for
10-pound test fluorocarbon line for working his jig.
The most productive spots for wintertime bass on the Gravois
include main and secondary points and transition banks where the
shoreline changes from bluffs to chunk rock and gravel. “The real
During the winter and early spring, Pauley starts fishing the
main lake points and then works his way into the coves until he
finds the fish. He rates February and March as the prime months to
catch big bass on the Gravois arm, especially after a three-or
four-day warming trend. Another prime time to catch trophy bass on
the Gravois is from the first week of November until Christmas.
When the water
temperature rises into the upper 50s and low 60s in the spring,
Pauley switches tactics to catch prespawn bass. “Once the water
starts warming it seems like the fish go to plastics right before
the spawn and close to the spawn,” says Pauley. He drags a
Carolina-rigged plastic lizard or split-shot rigged finesse worm or
French Fry worm for bass along the pea gravel banks.
His favorite colors for these soft plastics include
watermelon or green pumpkin in clear water and dark colors
(black-and-blue or black neon) for murky conditions.
When the fish lock onto their nests Pauley relies on a Zoom
finesse worm attached to a 1/8-ounce jighead. A tube jig also
catches nesting fish in off-colored water.
The best spots to find spawning bass are pea gravel cuts or
backs of pockets with either steep or flat banks.
During the postspawn stage, Pauley finds fish close to the
spawning areas first and as the water temperature continues to warm
he follows the migrating fish out to deep structure. The first area
bass move to from the spawning banks are flat, rounded secondary
A Zara Spook or Cotton Cordell Jointed Red Fin worked on 10-
to 12-pound test line produces plenty of exciting topwater action
for Pauley during the postspawn. If the fish are reluctant to attack
his surface lures, Pauley switches to flipping a magnum tube bait or
a 10- to 11-inch plastic worm in blue flake, tequila sunrise or
electric blue. He
On sunny summer days, Pauley likes to pitch a Texas-rigged
magnum tube bait (3/16-ounce Lake Fork Mega Weight and Owner Rig’N
Hook on 20-pound test line) to any visible cover. He selects a green
pumpkin tube for pitching in clear water and a black/red flake model
for murky water.
Night fishing produces the most consistent action on the
Gravois during the heat of summer. Pauley opts for a 7- to 10-inch
plastic worm in black or dark purple hues that he works through the
sunken brush at depths of 15 to 20 feet.
When the shad migrate to the backs of creeks in October and
November, Pauley targets the baitfish schools to find bass. “The
schools of shad roam on the big flats and are so thick that it seems
like you can walk on them sometimes,” he says.
Swimming a white Jewel Eakins’ Pro Model Jig and white
Jewel Eakins’ Pro Model Craw produces bass for Pauley in the fall,
but his favorite tactic involves a Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap. During the
Bassmaster tournament, Pauley caught a hefty limit to take the
first-day lead while burning a shad-pattern Rat-L-Trap (green back
and pearl sides) on 15-pound test line.
On sunny days, bass in the upper ends of the creeks use
isolated stumps, tree roots and lay-downs as ambush points so Pauley
bangs his lipless crankbait into the cover to trigger a reaction
For information on lodging at the
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.