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by John Neporadny
Fishing for bass in the fall can be a most rewarding experience for an angler's body and soul.
The cooler temperatures provide a relief from the scorching heat that you had to endure during the summer and the leaves changing colors creates an eye-pleasing scene that lulls you into a state of tranquility.
The fishing this time of year can be just as enjoyable, since the cooling water temperature triggers bass into gorging themselves on shad in preparation for winter. The action can get fast and furious on a variety of shad-imitating lures when you find bass feeding on baitfish.
Turbid water and an abundance of flats in the upper ends of Lake of the Ozarks' tributaries makes these areas ideal for bass in September. Some consistent fall patterns can be found on the Lake of the Ozarks in the upper reaches of the Osage, Grand Glaize, Gravois and Niangua arms.
Favorite targets of local anglers are
shallow docks along flats. The shad forage is tremendous both on the main lake and in coves during this time.
Although patterns tend to be inconsistent in the fall due to the shad scattering throughout the lake, one type of cover always holds fish. Boat docks along flats are the best bets for good fall action, especially on the mid to upper Osage arm, which has plenty of these bass havens.
A favorite fall pattern is flipping a ½-ounce black-and-blue jig and plastic crawfish on 20-pound test line behind docks or in the brush alongside docks 5 to 7 feet deep. Docks along the flats seem to produce better than the floating structures on the channel banks. The fish typically hold tight to cover so flip or pitch around the docks and let the jig fall into the cover. Allow the lure sit in the cover for a couple of seconds and shake your rod to make the jig rattle. If this fails to induce a strike, move on to the next target.
A secondary pattern also works on docks or along flat points.
Tie on a 3/8-ounce white or chartreuse spinnerbait with a silver single number 4 willowleaf blade and wind it in with a slow, steady retrieve along the sides of docks.
The jig pattern usually begins in late summer and lasts through October. The spinnerbait pattern works best in September and October.
Since sunshine draws bass tighter to cover, the flipping technique produces better in sunny weather. The spinnerbait pattern calls for windy weather.
The turnover completely shuts down fishing in the upper ends for a few days. You can usually avoid this situation by heading down lake to the clearer water areas by the dam, which usually turns over last.
For information on lodging and other facilities 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