UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Clear Lake

Top 10 Patterns from Lake of the Ozarks

Top 10 Patterns from Lake of the Ozarks

Considering this was the fourth year in a row Lake of the Ozarks had hosted a Costa FLW Series Central Division event in October, everyone pretty much knew what to expect. And then the weather happened.

Anglers basically had to scrap practice thanks to a massive cold front that brought rain, storms, wind, falling temperatures and all the joys of a fall front. That left some anglers changing tactics by the day to adapt, while others lowered their heads with a single pattern to grind out bites. 

Winner Dylan Hays fell in the latter group, using a jig around dock and brush, but more than a few guys in the top 10 had their shots to beat him out. 

Here’s  a look at how the rest of the top pros got it done to close the year out in the final Central Division event, which was presented by Evinrude.

Hays’ winning pattern

Top 10 baits gallery

Complete results 

 

2. Watson falls short again

For the third year in a row, James Watson made the final day of Costa FLW Series competition on Lake of the Ozarks. And for the third year in a row, he stubbed his toe and failed to bring in a limit.

“I fished my butt off,” says Watson, “but I let another one slip by.”

It wasn’t from a lack of effort, as Watson spent three days focusing on hitting key stretches of rock bank and then “sneaky stuff around boat docks you could get a cast or two.” To do that and maximize his time, he spent a lot of time idling from one dock to the next.

“I spent probably at least an hour every day driving around boat docks,” says Watson. “I mean, sitting down, putting my vest on, idling around to the next dock. It’s time consuming.”

The majority of the time, his bait of choice was a soon-to-be-released Tackle HD buzzbait of his design (black skirt, gold blade) that he says has a stronger wire to allow him to change the sound. Yet, as good as that lure was to him the first two days with the clouds and rain, his stubbornness to put it down did him in the final day. 

“I tried to force something to go that never did go,” says Watson of his final day. “I never had a decent bite all day final day on the buzzbait.”

In fact, he only had two keeper bites on it the final day, and his other two keepers came on a Jewel Special Ops Tactical Flip’n Jig paired with a Tackle HD Hi-Def Craw (green pumpkin blue).

 

3. Scanlon adapts daily, hourly to keep pace

Casey Scanlon adapted constantly to put himself in contention for the win, but two lost fish on the final day will haunt him.

The FLW Tour pro happens to guide on Lake of the Ozarks, making him one of the favorites coming into the event. That experience on the lake certainly came in handy when the weather turned as it did, allowing him to steadily adapt.

On day one, he focused mainly out away from the bank, but by the final day, he was hugging the bank. Because of his constant shifting, he had a dozen rods on his deck rigged with buzzbaits, jigs, worms, crankbaits and even an Alabama rig. His main lures, though, were a buzzbait (black skirt, black blade), a 5/8-ounce Trophy Bass Company jig of his design and a Luck-E-Strike Original Ringer (plum) paired on a Hayabusa WRM114 HD hook.

One thing that was key for Scanlon all week was maximizing the afternoon bite, as he often only had a fish or two before noon, and then rallying hard in the final hours.

That came to pass again on Saturday, when he decided to commit himself mostly to the buzzbait to try and go for the win.

“I tried to push the topwater deal in the morning, and I got just enough bites to kind of keep at it,” says Scanlon of Saturday. “I caught one on a jig out deeper, and I tried to mix in some deep spots. I even graphed a little [on Saturday]. But I felt the way to win the tournament was to do it on that topwater. 

“It’s a high risk, high reward deal, and I got the short end of it today. I lost a 5- and a 4-pounder in the last hour that I don’t know why they came off, but they did.”

 

4. Self-planted brush key to Verhoef 

Ben Verhoef says he plants more than 150 pieces of brush in Lake of the Ozarks every year, and he certainly ran a ton of it this week.

The young pro from Osage Beach, Mo., hit upwards of 100 to 150 brush piles a day up in the stretch of lake closer to the dam, with the location of the brush piles changing daily.

“The first part of the event I was fishing deep because they were pulling a lot of current with the weather,” says Verhoef, who only weighed in three fish the second day. “So, I caught a few key fish deep cranking a 6th Sense Cloud 9 C25 (bluetruese). But on day two, I found a quality brush-pile bite flipping a ½-ounce E-Factor jig (black and blue) with a Missile Bait D Bomb (green pumpkin) trailer.”

After doing just enough to sneak into the top 10 by an ounce, Verhoef made a real run at the full comeback victory when he stuck a 5- and 4-pounder right off the bat the final morning. He added a 2-pounder in short order, and from then on he committed himself to pitching a Zoom Magnum Trick Worm (black and blue) behind a ¼-ounce weight to brush piles under boat docks.

“Unfortunately, it never really came together much after the morning,” says Verhoef.

 

5. Crock-O-Gator owner Dill relies on his own products

This time of the year, the bass want to move shallow according to James Dill, and he would know, being that he guides on the lake. In fact, a good number of Lake of the Ozarks’ bass fall victim to his Crock-O-Gator Head Knocker Buzzbait every year around this time. 

Sure enough, plenty did again this week, including for him.

“I guide on this lake, so I’m kind of in tune with the fish,” says Dill. “When that nasty weather came in, here in the Ozarks, the fish love it. So, we knew it was going to turn on a little bit. So, the way I caught them in practice, I didn’t catch any on it Thursday and Friday. It was all topwater.”

A big key to his success with his buzzbait was to be able to skip it far back into places most couldn’t. 

Yet, when the sun came out Saturday, the topwater bite faded - like it did for most everyone else.

“Saturday, I tried the topwater deal in the morning, but it wouldn’t work,” says Dill. “I ended up having to use my back-up plan from practice, swimming a Cock-O-Gator jig alongside docks with shade. I caught a limit doing that quick. Then went back to the topwater for rest of the day hoping for a big bite. It just wasn’t there.”

 

6. Crankbait bite fizzles for Williams

He’s had it to himself for a while, but by making the top 10, Lance Williams had to finally spill the beans on the crankbait he’s been using way up the river the last few years.

“It’s a Bomber Flat A (shad colors),” says Williams. “People don’t throw it much anymore. Everyone uses a square-bill, but I’ve been wearing them out the last few years on that Flat A.”

Keeping with his fall routine, Williams made more than an hour run up the river, where he was keying on flat, shallow docks. The bigger and shadier the better, and they had to have wind on them. If they did, the bass were choking on his crankbait, like they did over the first two days. 

Yet, when the sun popped out the final day, the bass would only swirl on his crankbait, and that was after making repeated casts to get them to even commit to doing anything.

“I had to switch to a homemade 7/16-ounce jig (black/blue tinsel) with a Strike King Rage Craw trailer, pitching it to the backside of docks,” says Williams. “I caught three that way. Then later on I switched to a Strike King KVD Deep Jerkbait to finish out my limit. So, I fished clean, and I was happy to have what I had.”

 

7. Steckler keyes on main-lake docks

Cory Steckler seemingly had little trouble catching keepers early on in the event, but that certainly wasn’t the case by the end.

Focusing on main-lake pockets with docks near the dam, Steckler was in the top five after the first day thanks to a 9/16-ounce jig (green pumpkin) with Yamamoto Flappin’ Hog trailer. It was just a matter of determining where the fish were setting up underneath the docks.

The flipping bite continued into day two when he caught three early, but when things got tough, he made a switch.

“I started running new water,” says Steckler. “I put the Crock-O-Gator Head Knocker Buzzbait on, and it was on. I caught 4-5 keepers doing that, which saved my butt.”

The final day, Steckler tried to repeat exactly what he did before, catching three keepers early flipping again, but this time, the buzzbait was not a savior. And by the time he went back to flipping, that bite was done too, and he brought in only three fish. 


8. Maloney sticks it out with a jig 

Some days, it just ain’t your day. Unfortunately, that day was Saturday for Brian Maloney.

“I was really excited for [Saturday],” says Maloney, who only brought in three fish the final day. “I thought it was going to be a knockout, and it was. I just didn’t capitalize. I broke off a big one on a cable, which happens, but I had two others I have no idea how the line broke. I’m dumbfounded. Then I lost a couple more [Saturday afternoon] that just came off. Silly stuff. It was just not meant to be.”

Outside of execution on the final day, Maloney’s game plan was textbook Ozark fall fishing. He put a jig in his hands and simply dug in.

Fishing from the toll bridge area to Racetrack Hollow, Maloney keyed on very specific sand/gravel banks with docks, with the best docks not being too far back in the creeks, as he says there was too much bait [in the way backs of the creeks].

His jigs were either a 3/8-ounce Strike King Denny Brauer Baby Structure Jig with a Strike King Rage Bug trailer or a custom jig with a tube trailer in “greens and browns.” But how he fished either was key.

“Early in the week, when the jig hit the bottom, you’d bounce it once and they were on it,” says Maloney. “By the end, you almost had to dead stick it. You’d lift your rod tip, wait 2-3 seconds and then your line would start swimming off. No tick or anything. So, you had to watch your line.”

 

Dale Andrews

9. Mud kills Andrews’ river pattern

Considering he’d never been to Lake of the Ozarks, Dale Andrews could not have been more pleased with how his tournament went over the first two days. Unfortunately, that lack of experience did him in during the final round.

“I did not realize how fast this lake can go down,” says Andrews, who dropped from second to ninth after not bringing in a fish on Saturday. “The fish I was catching, you couldn’t get to them because they weren’t there. It was dry ground. And another thing that hurt, the wind blew the mud in there. It was just, you could walk across it.”

Up until the final day, though, Andrews made hay flipping a Gene Larew Biffle Bug in various colors to “any piece of cover that looked good” and he thought a fish would be near. On day one, it was laydowns, but on day two he made a key adjustment to wind-blown rocky banks and “put a whacking on them.”

 

Ladd Shannon

10. Shannon looks for quality over quantity

Day-one leader Ladd Shannon decided to go big or go home. Well, he went home by the end.

Keying on deep docks (over 30 feet of water) in the mid-lake area, Shannon turned only a few bites into the lead on day one. Unfortunately, as the water cooled, his fish moved, and he couldn’t relocate them.

“I seen my pattern was disintegrating,” says Shannon. “The water temps were 80 when I got here, but as they fell with that cold front, the big fish started moving shallower. I just couldn’t find them when they did.”

When he led the first day, he did so by tossing a white swim jig to the corners of the docks, but he only weighed in three fish on Friday and none the final day. 

Tags: sean-ostruszka  post-tournament  2019-10-10-lake-of-the-ozarks 

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