Top Techniques for the Ozarks with Huff, Lawyer, and McClelland
(Photo courtesy of Bassmaster.)
The Ozarks region in Arkansas and Missouri is a very famous region known for its beautiful scenery and great bass fishing. Lakes like Beaver Lake, Bull Shoals Lake, Lake of the Ozarks, and Table Rock Lake have hosted many Bassmaster Elite Series events, FLW Tour/MLF Invitationals events, and even some MLF Bass Pro Tour events over the years. There are many popular techniques that have been proven successful in the Ozarks region for professional anglers like Cody Huff, Jeremy Lawyer, and Mike McClelland.
Starting with the most popular technique in the fishing industry currently, it is no secret that utilizing forward-facing sonar has been proven successful since the Garmin LiveScope system was introduced in 2018. In the winter and early spring, MLF Tackle Warehouse Invitationals angler Mike McClelland likes to utilize his forward-facing sonar with a “Damiki rig”, which is simply using a 3-to-4-inch forked minnow-style bait on a jig head. McClelland prefers a 3/8 to 3/4 ounce jig head for this technique, and he uses it on a spinning rod setup with 12 pound Overwatch braid or Xplasma Asegai braid paired with an 8 to 12 pound Tornade V Hard FC leader. When it comes to LiveScoping, Bassmaster Elite Series angler Cody Huff is one of the best at it as he has won two MLF Toyota Series events utilizing it. As a matter of fact, one of those wins was on Table Rock Lake. Huff likes to use his Garmin LiveScope offshore all year round, and he typically chooses a Damiki rig on a spinning rod setup like McClelland. Similar to McClelland, his setup is 10 pound Overwatch braid paired with a 10 pound Tornade V Hard FC leader.
(Photo courtesy of Major League Fishing.)
Another technique that can win a lot of tournaments in the Ozarks is a jig. In the spring, Cody Huff likes to flip a jig in shallow cover on 22 pound Shooter fluorocarbon. Whether it’s fishing boat docks or rocky banks, MLF Bass Pro Tour angler Jeremy Lawyer loves using a jig in the early spring and throughout the fall. His favorite is a simple “little brown jig” as many local Ozarks anglers call it. He uses anywhere from a 1/4 to 3/4 ounce size depending on the situation, paired with a chunk or craw trailer. Lawyer uses these jigs on a couple different setups depending on what type of cover he is fishing around. When fishing down rocky banks, he prefers 14 pound Super FC Sniper. When fishing behind docks with cables and under walkways, he prefers 14 pound Shooter fluorocarbon because of its superior abrasion resistance and low stretch allowing him to get those fish in the boat with minimal issues. When fishing boat docks with brush in the summer, Lawyer likes to switch between a big worm with a 1/2 ounce tungsten bullet weight tied on 20 pound Shooter fluorocarbon and a 5/8 ounce jig tied on 25 pound Shooter fluorocarbon.
(Photo courtesy of Major League Fishing.)
Another technique that is popular in the Ozarks region is a finesse swimbait on a jig head or underspin. Jeremy Lawyer likes to use a 3.8-inch size on a 1/4-ounce jig head. He uses this setup on a baitcasting rod and reel with 12 pound Super FC Sniper. Lawyer claims that a swimbait is one of the most versatile lures and can be successful in any situation. He throws it around brush piles, schooling fish, flats, and standing timber. Mike McClelland likes to use a 3 to 4 inch size swimbait on a 1/4 to 1/2 ounce head, and uses it on a baitcasting setup with 8 to 12 pound Super FC Sniper. Spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and jerkbaits are other great lures to cover water with, and they also tend to trigger reaction bites. Cody Huff likes to throw a big spinnerbait in the spring time, and he adjusts his line size by what kind of cover he is fishing around. Most of the time though, he throws his big spinnerbaits on 20 or 22 pound Shooter fluorocarbon. Mike McClelland usually ties his crankbaits and jerkbaits on 10 to 12 pound Crank FC, but he will sometimes use 8 pound line if he wants his crankbait to go deeper. On jerkbaits, he will occasionally use 10 or 12 pound Super Natural Monofilament to keep the bait up higher in the water column, usually when the water temperature is in the 40s or lower. He feels as if the fish don’t feed downward as much during the winter time as they do in the warmer weather months, so he wants to keep the bait above them as much as possible. Using monofilament or nylon line can be beneficial for situations like this as opposed to wanting to use fluorocarbon to get your bait down deeper. In fact, we recently wrote a blog about specific gravity and how it affects your lure performance. Check it out here.
Lastly, Jeremy Lawyer likes to throw topwater baits such as walking baits, plopper style baits, and buzzbaits in the fall. He likes to target bigger rocky banks, channel swings, bluff ends, and any structure along the main lake. For walking baits, he uses 50-pound Siglon PEX8. For buzzbaits, he uses the 50-pound Siglon PE AMZ because of its superior abrasion resistance which is a necessity around cover. For plopper style baits, he increases his Siglon PE AMZ line size to 60-pound because the lure is so heavy that he can get away with using a heavier line.