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Lake of the Ozarks Boat Dock Bassing

by John Neporadny Jr.
 

When hunting for the ultimate bass cover on most lakes, we program ourselves into looking for a patch of weeds, a row of stumps or partially-submerged logs.
But on Lake of the Ozarks you will usually pass up rows of the best bass havens on the lake if you search for those types of cover. Although harboring a boat is its primary function, boat docks on Lake of the Ozarks also serve as underwater magnets for bass. While other cover might attract a couple of bass and bunches of fishermen, docks provide enough hiding places to shelter whole schools of fish during the summer and are oftentimes overlooked
by most anglers.

A well-known tournament angler who realizes the fish-holding qualities of boat docks is Guido Hibdon, Gravois Mills, Mo. He believes fishing docks is one of the most consistent patterns for taking bass at Lake of the Ozarks in the summertime.

Docks are prime fish attractors because they offer shade for bass
and baitfish. Algae growing on the posts and other parts of docks provides food for baitfish. The feeding baitfish draw in bass which use the shade and dock cover to ambush their prey.

Sunken brush piles under some docks also attract bass. "It's pretty simple to run down a bank and pick out the docks that have brush around them," Hibdon says. The easiest way to find which docks have sunken brush piles is to look for fishing rod holders on the structure.

Docks become even more appealing to Hibdon because this type of cover produces best during hot, sunny weather. "A sunny day is without a doubt the best weather to fish docks because the sun causes the fish to tighten up in the shady area, " Hibdon says.

When searching for ideal docks, location plays a key role during the summertime. "I very seldom ever fish in a creek during the summer," Hibdon says. "I always fish the main lake." The popular tournament
angler believes main lake docks hold bigger bass and attract more baitfish than docks in coves. Even though bass can be found in the shallows during the summer, Hibdon concentrates on docks that sit over deep water. "I very seldom fish a dock that is in less than 10 feet of water," he says.
When he finds an ideal dock, Hibdon keeps his boat a safe distance from the structure to prevent banging into it and spooking any bass suspended under the dock. Hibdon even positions the stern of his boat into the wind to prevent waves from slapping into the boat's bow and making any additional noise that could scare the fish.

Hibdon works the docks in a slow, methodical manner using a 3/8- or 1/2-ounce black-and-blue jig with a black-and-blue crawfish trailer as his top lure for fishing docks. Other lures that produce for him are a tube jig with a 1/32-ounce jighead and an 11-inch plastic worm.
The touring pro always fishes the shady side of a dock where he finds bass either suspending about 2 feet under the dock's foam or hiding in the brush 15 to 20 feet deep. The veteran angler pitches his jig
toward the dock, lets the lure sink a couple of seconds and then hops it once or twice. If this fails to produce a strike, Hibdon reels in the lure and pitches to another target in the shade.

Although they don't look like much to the average angler, Lake of the Ozarks docks definitely appear attractive to a bass searching for a summertime residence.

For information on lodging at the Lake of the Ozarks or to receive a free 152-page 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.