UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Dock Talk All About Docks at Ozarks

Dock Talk All About Docks at Ozarks
Roger Fitzpatrick

The summer-to-fall transition across the country is a period that leaves many bass anglers scratching their heads in pursuit of green fish. Weather – especially cold fronts – has a massive impact on how largemouths move throughout a reservoir, but Lake of the Ozarks hasn’t had the luxury of an early fall cold front to get fish moving toward a typical fall pattern. In fact, unseasonably high temperatures might have bass holding to the last shred of summer as anglers head to Lake of the Ozarks for the Costa FLW Series Central Division finale presented by Evinrude this week.

Greg Bohannan, the 2017 Central Division Angler of the Year, believes the warmer-than-usual weather as of late will make the plopping and buzzing topwater bite a secondary tactic. In his opinion, it’s going to be docks that deliver the winning fish this year.

“There’s something always going around docks,” he says. “That lake’s got thousands and thousands of docks. Some form or fashion of a dock pattern is going to win the tournament, I’m sure.”

Bohannan is particularly invested in finding that dock pattern this year. The Arkansas pro is in eighth place in the AOY race and trails leader Stacey King by just 40 points entering the division’s final derby.

 

The lay of the water

Lake of the Ozarks is a sprawling reservoir covering 54,000 surface acres and 1,150 miles of shoreline, fed primarily by the Osage River, which creates the main channel of the lake. A plethora of creek arms also feed into the lake, and fishing those creeks in the summer months is often the ticket to big bags.

With temperatures still in the low 80s by the Tuesday leading into the tournament, those creek arms might still come into play, but docks are the talk right now – and it’s easy to understand why. Lake of the Ozarks is a highly developed lake with a multitude of docks to flip and skip.

Dion Hibdon won the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League event at Lake of the Ozarks in September, and he did so fishing docks. With miles-long stretches of developed shoreline littered with docks, the lake offers a fairly unique opportunity for anglers to pick one pattern early and let it rip throughout the weekend.

 

Pregame speculation

The sheer size of Lake of the Ozarks is usually enough to alleviate fishing pressure concerns, but this week may be a little different. Last weekend, it hosted the Lake of the Ozarks Fall Big Bass Bash, which saw thousands of boats practicing and then competing to turn in the largest fish anglers could catch. Paired with a few days of pressure from practice before the Costa FLW Series event this weekend, the fishery, Bohannan expects, will produce a little less than it otherwise would.

“It’ll probably put a little bit of a damper on the weights,” he posits. “The lake probably won’t show its true potential just because of that giant Big Bass Bash, which has like 1,300 or 1,400 boats in it. So those guys practice a couple days and they fish the tournament, and our guys come in. I think that makes our weights a little bit down.

“Normally I would say it would take 17 pounds a day to make the top 10, and with all that going on, it’s probably going to average 14 to 15 pounds a day to make the top 10.”

If that’s the case, it’ll be in line with weights in last year’s Central Division finale on Lake of the Ozarks, which took place nearly a year to the day of this event. Andre Dickneite won with 48 pounds, 4 ounces, while Bohannan finished ninth with 40 pounds, 11 ounces, followed by a slight drop-off to 34 pounds, 15 ounces for James Watson’s 10th-place finish.

The one caveat to all the pre-tournament speculation could be a change in weather by the time boats launch for day one. Current predictions show a cold front moving in Thursday – the first day of the event – with highs hovering in the mid- to upper 50s throughout the weekend.

With all the talk of docks and patterns, anglers may just be hacking at curveballs when all is said and done.

 

Tournament tactics

Shallow or deep, creeks or docks, it still might all come down to where the baitfish go.

“I’m going to try to figure out where the shad are,” Bohannan says. “A lot of times if you can find where the big gizzard shad are, that’s a big key to where the bigger bass are, whether they’re deep or up on the bank. The first thing I’m going to try to key on when I get there is figuring out where the majority of the baitfish are.”

If those baitfish are shallow, expect the big fish to come from docks on flipping setups – creature baits and big worms, mostly. Should temperatures drop off and the topwater bite come into play, as it did last year, throwing buzzbaits and River2Sea Whopper Ploppers could once again be the winning tactic.

With so many question marks about weather and patterns, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a handful of different tactics fill out the top 10. If temperatures do drop into the 40s and 50s starting Thursday, anglers might be left scrapping practice plans and scrambling to piece together whatever they can make work.

 

 

The Angler of the Year race

Bohannan mounted a furious comeback last year to take home AOY honors for the second time in his career, but it might take even more this year to come back from a 40-point deficit and take down hammers such as Stacey King and Hensley Powell.

King leads the race with 488 points, and Powell has 488 points as well, sitting in second by virtue of a tiebreaker. Bohannan, at 448 points, needs everything to go right for him this weekend.

“There’s an outside chance I can make it [Angler of the Year],” he admits. “Both those guys are hammers, and they’re going to catch them. I went into it last year I think maybe 30 or 40 points out of the lead and ended up winning the Angler of the Year. It’s always possible. I’m going to catch every bass I can catch, and, hey, I’d love to win it for a third time.”

But even if Bohannan can’t rally for the title, he’ll settle for a top-five finish in the standings and the extra paycheck that comes with it.

“Strike King is paying top five in Angler of the Year, so I want to finish absolutely as high as I can,” he says. “If I can’t win it, I’d love to have some of that Strike King Angler of the Year money and finish absolutely as high as I can.”

 

AOY top 10

1. Stacey King – 488 points

2. Hensley Powell – 488

3. Andy Morgan – 483

4. Jeremy Lawyer – 473

5. Keith Amerson – 459

6. Travis Fox – 457

7. Brandon Hunter – 450

8. Greg Bohannan – 448

9. Joe Wieberg – 447

10. Derek Jenkel – 446

 

COY top 10

1. Jason Sandidge – 475 points

2. Cullen Baxter – 468

3. Jeremy Winn – 467

4. Dennis Meyer – 462

5. Roger Olson Jr. – 452

6. Tom Lloyd – 448

7. Jim Pierce – 446

8. Tyrone Phillips – 444

9. Gerald Andrews – 441

10. Robbie Bartoszek – 437

 

Tournament details

Format: All boaters and co-anglers will compete for two days. The top 10 boaters and co-anglers based on cumulative weight after two days of competition will advance to the third and final round, with the winner in each division determined by the heaviest cumulative three-day weight.

Takeoff Time: 7:00 a.m. CT

Takeoff Location: Public Beach #2, 711 Public Beach Road, Osage Beach, MO

Weigh-In Time: 3:00 p.m. CT

Weigh-In Location: Public Beach #2, 711 Public Beach Road, Osage Beach, MO

Complete details

 

Tags: justin-onslow  pre-tournament  2018-10-11-lake-of-the-ozarks 

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