Lake of the Ozarks Fall Pattern Bass
By John Neporadny Jr.


September can be a tease or a trigger for fall bass fishing on Lake of the Ozarks. 

The cool weather of fall sometimes arrives during September at Lake of the Ozarks but sometimes the lake still experiences hot summer weather throughout the month. Even though daylight hours remain warm throughout the month, cooler nights start a drop in water temperatures which prompts bass to start their fall feeding binge. 

Bass busting into pods of shad in the shallows at the backs of creeks and coves is the scenario generally considered prime fall bass fishing.  Just about any lure that resembles the size and color of a shad will catch Lake of the Ozarks bass then. 

So when September arrives bass start keying on the massive balls of shad at the lake.  “A lot of different things start working that time of year,” said Casey Scanlon, who guides on the lake and competes on the FLW Tour. 

Large schools of shad start migrating to the shallows, but some also remain deep where bass suspended under docks ambush the baitfish.  “The bass are really doing a little bit of everything,” Scanlon said. “That time is kind of a sign of fall when you start seeing shad migrating to the back of the creeks and there is a lot of surface activity.”  Throughout early September, Scanlon notices bass will get “extremely shallow” and can be caught from less than 1 foot deep next to the bank or suspended high in the water column over a depth of 35 feet. 

“You can catch bass then in the summertime haunts out to 30 feet of water but a lot of those fish will be real shallow into the back of coves on docks or wood cover,” Scanlon said. “A lot of times the bass just get out in the middle of the baitfish so if you see bait balls just throw into those.” 

The guide suggests a variety of patterns develop then and anglers can catch bass from the dam area to the upper river arms.  “A jig fished around docks is hard to beat,” Scanlon said. He relies on a 1/2-ounce Trophy Bass Company jig in brown, black or blue most of the time, but if he notices bass are feeding heavily on shad, Scanlon opts for a white jig tipped with a white Bass Pro Shops Speed Shad swimbait. He likes to pitch the jig to brush piles or into shady areas of docks and swims the white jig and trailer around the corners of docks. 

Other lures he fishes around the numerous docks at Lake of the Ozarks include Luck E Strike RC square bill crankbaits (black-and-white, sexy shad or black-and-chartreuse colors), Texas-rigged Luck E Strike Ringmaster creature baits and flipping tubes. He also runs the square bill crankbait around laydowns, brush piles and through the middle of baitfish balls along points and flats. 

From early to mid-October, Lake of the Ozarks bass remain shallow along flats where Scanlon tempts them with topwater plugs, buzz baits and spinnerbaits.  Bass start transitioning from the flats to steeper chunk rock banks closer to the main lake where they start feeding on the larger gizzard shad.  Buzz baits, topwater plugs and crawfish-color Storm Lures Wiggle Warts or Luck E Strike G5 crankbaits work best as the water cools down and bass migrate to the secondary and main points and deeper rocky channel banks. 

This late fall pattern continues until the end of November or early December. Scanlon notices once the water temperature drops below 50 degrees he has to switch to wintertime patterns fishing a jig on the bottom or jerking suspending stickbaits. 

For information on lodging and other facilities at the Lake of the Ozarks or to receive a free 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

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


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