Sunday, March 1, 2020

Going for big Lake of the Ozarks bass


By John Neporadny Jr.

During my early years of bass fishing, my Dad and I set a 6-pound largemouth bass as a benchmark catch for having a mount made by a taxidermist.

Even though I have now surpassed that benchmark by about tenfold (including a 12-pounder I caught in Mexico) when fishing Missouri waters I still consider a 6-pound largemouth a trophy catch.  While rivers and lakes filled with Florida-strain largemouth throughout the South and in California offer the best opportunity to catch that once-in-a-lifetime bass, Lake of the Ozarks is  capable of producing double-digit largemouth.

The biggest bass I have caught at Lake of the Ozarks weighed  8 pounds, 1 ounce and   I have also caught a 7 1/4-pounder and some 6-pounders from my home lake.

On March 15, 2016, a client of Lake of the Ozarks Guide Jack Uxa caught a 10-pound, 11-ounce largemouth bass on a spinnerbait. “The majority of the day we were catching fish on main lake points, but that particular fish came off a secondary point,” Uxa recalls.

Another 10-pounder was caught a couple of weeks later in the same area Uxa released his client’s fish. Uxa and MDC Fisheries Biologist Greg Stoner concur that the second 10-pounder was probably the same bass Uxa’s client caught previously. 

Stoner notes 6-pound bass are common catches at Lake of the Ozarks but 7- and 8-pounders are rare.  “We just don’t have a long enough growing season to consistently produce those 8- and 9-pound bass like they get in Alabama or Mississippi,” he says.

A large population of gizzard shad helps increase the growth rate of Lake of the Ozarks bass.   “We have a very stable forage base,” Stoner says.  “We do have a real consistent shad population.”  

Uxa also notices bass have plenty of sunfish to eat at his home lake.  “Just about every dock on this lake has got bluegill around it in the summertime,” he said. The guide suggests bass have a chance to grow larger on this lake because the fish can hide under the large condominium docks where it is difficult for anglers to reach them.

Spring is the best time to catch a Lake of the Ozarks trophy bass.   “There is something special about that March 15 to April 10 time frame before bass go on the spawn,” Uxa says. “The bass weigh the heaviest that time of year.”    His clients also consistently catch 5-pound-plus bass in June. 

Uxa’s best lures for catching heavyweight prespawn bass at Lake of the Ozarks includes Carolina-rigged soft plastic creature baits such as the Berkley Pit Boss or Thief, spinnerbaits, suspending stickbaits and crawfish-color crankbaits such as the Berkley Digger or Storm Lures Wiggle Wart.  The guide targets secondary points and transition banks for catching big bass in the spring.   “Those secondary points always have fish going in and out of them,” he says.    He finds bigger bass also hiding in brush piles about 10 feet deep along the banks were the rocks transition from chunk rocks to pea gravel. 

During June, Uxa sets up his clients with a Texas-rigged 10-inch Berkley plastic worm to catch quality bass on main lake points.  “You can hardly beat that plastic worm then because you can swim it, flip it and drag it on those big, long points when current is moving,” Uxa says.  The guide also has his clients use a 5/16-ounce shaky jighead with a Berkley Rib Snake to catch hefty bass along the tapering points and bluff points.

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 funlake.com.  

For copies of John Neporadny’s THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Guide call 573/365-4296 or visit www.jnoutdoors.com.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Lake of the Ozarks Bass Forecast


Predicting the bass fishing each year at Lake of the Ozarks is similar to listening to a broken record.

Listening to a broken record can be annoying, but the annual predictions for Lake of the Ozarks bass fishing are pleasing to the ears of visiting anglers.  

“The bass population on this lake is very high,” said Ed Franko of Big Ed’s Guide Service.  “We have a tremendous amount of fish up to 15 inches and we do have a good population over (15 inches). I think nothing but positive things here on this lake. “ 

Tournament weights were consistently high throughout the year.  “It takes 20 pounds to ever do any good on this lake,” Franko said. “Very seldom do you see a five-fish limit less than 20 pounds down to about 16 pounds that wins. So you are looking at a 2 1/2- to 3-pound average just to get you a check and a lot of times that won’t even get you a look.”

The Gravois arm and the northern banks of the dam area produce best for Franko and his clients in the early spring.  Franko finds prespawn bass along secondary points and gravel banks near the main channel and tempts the fish with shad-pattern or chartreuse-and-white suspending stickbaits, Carolina-rigged green pumpkin Zoom Brush Hogs and red crankbaits.

The Lake of the Ozarks guide notices bass usually start spawning around mid-April on his home waters.  He finds nesting bass along pea gravel banks where he skips finesse worms on wacky rigs behind the docks.

Franko’s clients caught some of their biggest fish during the post-spawn in June when bass move out to the main lake points.   ““That’s where you can sock them,” Franko said.  “That is when a big deep diving crankbait (Strike King 10XD) comes into play. We caught several over 5 pounds then but we didn’t have any over 6 pounds.

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 funlake.com.  

For copies of John Neporadny’s THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Guide call 573/365-4296 or visit www.jnoutdoors.com.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Change Up for Lake of the Ozarks Bass with Wild and Crazy Colors


By John Neporadny Jr.

Look in a clearance bin at any bait and tackle store and you are likely to notice wild-colored lures you think a Lake of the Ozarks bass would never touch.

Yet you better think twice about passing up on those lures decked out in wild and crazy colors because those hues do trigger strikes in certain situations.  Lake of the Ozarks experts frequently search clearance bins and lure shelves in quest of those loud-colored baits they know attract bass.

Former Bass Fishing League All-American Champion Marcus Sykora chooses lures in wild and crazy colors to catch pressured bass.  “In today’s age I think these bass get so much pressure and they kind of see everything,” Sykora says.  “The whole industry has always been match the hatch that I think whenever you go against the grain it can have an advantage. (A wild color) is something completely different that the fish haven’t seen before and it stands out against every other lure they have seen for that period of time.”

FLW Tour pro and Lake of the Ozarks guide Casey Scanlon also likes to go against the grain by throwing lures in bright hues. “It’s something that your average tournament fisherman isn’t going to throw so it gives me confidence,” Scanlon says.  “Sometimes if I can find a color that is abstract and different from the norm I feel confident going behind other boats and fishing it.” 

Crazy color choices

Sykora selects crazy colored lures that are factory painted or hand painted by Dave’s Custom Baits.  “In the factory colors everyone wants to buy the one that looks the most realistic like a gizzard or threadfin shad or a bream, but I like to throw the ugliest ones on the store shelf that no one else will buy,” Sykora says.  The Osage Beach angler also looks for lures in discontinued wild colors.
Bright tints Sykora picks for his lures include pink, red, lime, neon green and variations of yellow.  One of his favorite colors for Zara Spooks is a “juicy fruit” yellow that he calls school bus.  A favorite hue for his 6th Sense Provoke Jerkbaits is a hue he calls “ditch weed”, which features red painted on one side of the lure and yellow on the other side. 

Several of the wild colors Scanlon chooses are on factory-painted lures. “There are plenty of crazy colors out there on the shelf to choose from,” he says. “A lot of the stuff I am using is straight out of the package. I also like to tinker with stuff so I have powder paint and permanent markers that I use to doctor up baits. “

The Rocky Mount pro  opts for hard plastic lures such as crankbaits and jerkbaits in multiple colors. “You can find some real wild colors,” he says.   A lot of the colors made for bass really don’t necessarily resemble a baitfish of any sort or exactly something they would prey on.”  His multi-colored lures include mixtures of chartreuse, pink and purple.

 “Purple might not be a crazy color on some lures because you see it a lot on the back of crankbaits and things like that, but an all-purple buzz bait is something that works,” he says. “It is something not seen much for that particular bait.”

Crazy colors work best for Scanlon on hard plastic jerkbaits, soft plastic stick worms, spinnerbaits and square-bill crankbaits. He suggests you can also “get crazy” with a multicolored jig.

Wild color seasons

Winter is wild color season for Sykora because he notices big bass seem to bite better in the cold on at Lake of the Ozarks and heavyweight bass are drawn to loud colors of his 6th Sense Provoke Jerkbaits. 

Sykora searches for the clearest water he can find to throw his brightly colored lures.  “That goes so far against the grain of anything we have ever known,” Sykora says.  However he believes big bass in clear water have trouble resisting suspending stickbaits in “loud nasty colors” that sit so long in front of their face. 

“It gives me the confidence that I know I am throwing something that is completely unique, which means I am going to fish it slower and more thorough,” Sykora says.

Suspending stickbaits in crazy colors also produce big bass for Sykora in springtime tournaments. He relies on his unique-colored lures to catch kicker bass in tournaments when Lake of the Ozarks receives heavy fishing pressure in the spring.

Scanlon observes wild colors are especially effective in the spring when sight fishing for bass because the bright colors are easier to see on nests and the gaudy hues irritate bedding bass. “(Wild colors) excel in the springtime but I wouldn’t limit it to any season for sure,” Scanlon says.

Changeup craziness

The strange-looking suspending stickbaits have been excellent changeup lures for Sykora during the winter and spring.  “If I know the fish are keying in on a certain color I will throw it once or twice but before I leave an area I will make a pass with that different special color and that color is the one I will catch the biggest bass out of that group of fish a lot of times,” he says.  After catching a limit in a tournament while using a stickbait in normal colors, Sykora will also change up with a wild color to target kicker bass the rest of the day. 

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 funlake.com.  

For copies of John Neporadny’s THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Guide call 573/365-4296 or visit www.jnoutdoors.com.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Fishing Lake of the Ozarks winter cold fronts with Brian Maloney



The passage of cold fronts can be a tough time to catch bass, but Brian Maloney believes this situation negatively affects anglers more than bass.

“You are freezing your tail off and you are thinking it is killing the fish, but you have to remember that those fish are already in their winter mode,” Maloney says. “Their metabolism is already shut down. So in the wintertime just don’t get wrapped up in what the front is doing. I think that is more the front messing with the fisherman than it is messing with the fish.”

The former Bass Fishing League All-American champion notices cold fronts in the spring have a more drastic effect on bass than wintertime cold fronts.  “In the springtime the fish are getting ready to spawn and all of a sudden they get hammered with a 30- to 40-degree change of a cold front that screws it all up,” Maloney says.

Bass are already sluggish during the dead of winter when water temperatures plummet into the upper 30s or low 40s, so a cold front that drops air temperatures into the 20-degree range makes little difference to the fish.  “I don’t think that hurts the fish as much but I do believe that they will seek out any source of heat they can come up with which might be a good chunk rock bank, slab rocks and brush piles, Maloney says.  “If the water is clear enough the brush piles will absorb enough of the UV rays and hold the heat.”

The arrival of a cold front works in your favor because bass will move up shallower on a rocky bank seeking the warmth of the rocks and taking advantage of the cloud cover to feed. Maloney suggests those bass will remain shallow the morning after the front passes until the sun shines on them.
“If you go two or three days of cloud cover and then all of a sudden slap a bluebird sky on bass it messes with them,” Maloney says.  “I believe as the day goes on with a bright bluebird sky it kind of messes with the fish’s eyes   and they haven’t adapted to the light yet so they tend to pull off the bank and sink down a little deeper in the brush.”

The former Forrest Wood Cup qualifier still keys on shallower shady areas the first day of sunshine after a cold front but has to move deeper to catch bass the second day after the front. Maloney agrees with the old axiom of fishing is toughest on the second sunny day of a cold front.  “We struggle because we are not realizing what is going on with the fish and we are fishing what we had two days before when we had cloud cover,” he says. 

Water clarity dictates how deep bass will move after a winter cold front. Maloney suggests bass in off-color water might only drop down 2 feet but fish on clear-water lakes dive down 15 feet or deeper.  On 45-degree rocky banks void of cover,  post-frontal winter bass will move away from the rocks and suspend in open water.

Baitfish also leave the bank and head for the middle of coves after a winter cold front.  “The baitfish might be 3 to 10 feet deep maximum on good days but on those cold fronts you will see them push out and the next thing you know they are hugging the bottom at 20 feet,” Maloney says.

The Missouri angler throws the same lures during and after a winter cold front.  If Maloney has caught bass during a cold front with a suspending stickbait, Alabama rig or finesse jig along a chunk rock bank, he will continue to throw the same lures after the front in the low light of morning or shady areas.  He has to probe deeper water with the Alabama rig or jig when the mid-day sun eliminates the shade option. Maloney claims he has dragged his A-rig 50 to 60 feet deep to catch winter post-frontal bass at Table Rock Lake.

In the middle of winter, Maloney downsizes his suspending stickbaits to  2 1/2- to 3-inch models to catch finicky bass. When the larger gizzard shad start dying in late winter Maloney opts for bigger stickbaits such as Megabass Vision 110 and 130 models or magnum-size Rattlin’ Rogues.  Maloney is a finesse jig fanatic so he continues to fish his 5/16- and 7/16-ounce finesse jigs throughout all wintertime conditions. 

Maloney advises a slow lure presentation is a must during the winter whether fishing before, during or after a cold front.   “You are already slowed down on your baits,” he says. “The surface temperature is telling you to do that regardless of what the sky looks like. If it’s 35 to 40 degrees surface temperature you should already be going as slow as you can possibly go.  So I don’t think you have to change up your approach or cadence.”

When a winter cold front hits your favorite bass fishery, bundle up in layers of warm clothing and ignore the cold because bass are still biting.

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 funlake.com
.  

For copies of John Neporadny’s THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Guide call 573/365-4296 or visit www.jnoutdoors.com.


Thursday, November 21, 2019


Newcomb, Bridges win BassingBob Missouri Invitational Pro-Am Fishing and Golf Championship

Chris Bridges (middle left) and Andy Newcomb (middle right) won the Bassing Bob Missouri Invitational Pro-Am Fishing and Golf Championship at Lake of the Ozarks. Presenting the championship trophy to the winners are Missouri Invitational co-founders Bob Renken (far left) and Bassing Bob Bueltmann (far right). 


Camdenton, Mo.—A change in the format of the BassingBob Missouri Invitational Pro-Am Fishing and Golf Championship worked in the favor of Andy Newcomb and Chris Bridges.

The Missouri Invitational sponsored by Duncan Fine Jewelry and Ulrich Marine at Lake of the Ozarks Nov. 12-15 was originally slated for fishing the first competition day followed by golf the second day and fishing on the final day. However soggy grounds at the Old Kinderhook Golf Course led to a schedule change with fishing the first two days and an option of fishing or golf on the final day when the course was deemed playable.

After the first two days of fishing, Bass Fishing League (BFL) and FLW Costa pro Andy Newcomb and his amateur partner Chris Bridges sat in second place with 10 bass weighing 32.84 pounds. 

Newcomb admitted he was “not a good golfer” so it was an easy decision for Bridges and him to opt for fishing over golf on the final competition day.  They made the smart choice as they weighed in a 12.20-pound limit for a three-day total of 45.04 pounds to win the tournament and the top prize of $25,000.  Finishing only .03 of a pound behind the winners was the team of Justin McClelland and Denise Dill with 45.01 pounds.

The first- and second-place teams shared a spot each day on the Niangua arm of the lake.  “We had a spot that we started and spent a lot of time in each day,” Newcomb said.  “We caught most of those fish there on a Wiggle Wart (crankbait) and a Chatterbait.”

The winners keyed on channel banks where they caught most of their fish 6 to 8 feet deep. “I had been on some fish flipping to shallow targets over the weekend, but we checked out that the first day a lot and I think we caught one so we scrapped that pretty quick and started fishing channel banks. The first day we had five keepers on four different baits. Our pattern was kind of junking it together.”  They finished Day One in 10th place with 13.25 pounds.

The second day Newcomb and Bridges mainly threw spinnerbaits and Wiggle Warts to complete another limit. Newcomb disclosed they caught some keepers from their primary area but most of their bigger fish came from another spot.

On the final day, the 36-team field could choose either 18 holes of golf or fishing. Twenty-two teams headed to the lake while 14 teams headed to the golf course.  Newcomb and Bridges struggled early and caught only one keeper on a crankbait. When they ran into a stranded boater, they gave him a tow and then had only about an hour left to fish.  “We actually went to some docks and caught some fish on jerkbaits (Smithwick Rattlin’ Rogues) to fill out our limit.”

Old Kinderhook lodge and golf course and Lake of the Ozarks fishing resource website Bassing Bob hosted the  fifth annual 2019 Missouri Invitational Pro-Am Fish and Golf Tournament that provided amateur fishermen a chance to fish and golf with pro anglers. Among the fishing luminaries competing in this year’s event were former Bassmaster Classic and FLW Cup champ Dion Hibdon; FLW All-American champions, Marcus Sykora, Jeremy Lawyer and Brian Maloney; Major League Fishing pros James Watson and Mike McClelland; FLW Tour pros Casey Scanlon and Dan Morehead; and last year’s Missouri Invitational champ Mark Tucker, an eight-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier.

Pairings were determined by the amateur anglers bidding in live and silent auctions for the pro anglers they wanted as a partner for the three competition days.  The 58-year-old Chris Bridges was fishing in his fourth Missouri Invitational and reaped the reward of bidding on Andy Newcomb for his partner.  “I know a bunch of these guys,” said Bridges, a transmission parts store owner from Independence, Mo.  “I tournament fish a lot and this is like my vacation. It is a laid-back atmosphere and I just enjoy the guys.

Bridges highly recommends the Missouri Invitational for amateur anglers interested in competing in the event. “You get to fish with some really good guys and it doesn’t really matter your experience level, you can still learn something every time,” Bridges said.


Monday, November 4, 2019

Finesse Jigs on Lake of the Ozarks

Finesse jig fishing on Lake of the Ozarks


Standard casting or flipping jigs have always been associated with power fishing tactics, but a smaller and lighter version of the lure has become an effective alternative when Lake of the Ozarks bass get picky.

Former Bass Fishing League (BFL) All-American champion Brian Maloney has become an advocate of the finesse jig and religiously uses it in the same situations other anglers would rely on standard flipping or casting jigs.  “It’s smaller but more importantly is the lighter the jig the more erratic the fall is,” Maloney says.  Sometimes the jig will spiral on you and sometimes it will shoot away from you. But you have to be extremely careful to go with light line to get that action out of those jigs.”

Finesse jigs were originally designed with a collared skirt and a ball head.  The collared skirt is still a trademark of a finesse jig but lure manufacturers are now making versions with swim, rocker and football heads.  The jig is also equipped with a light wire hook, which Maloney believes penetrates deeper than heavier gauge hooks for a better hookset. He cautions that the light wire hook will bend on a hookset if you are using heavy line, so downscale to lighter line and loosen your reel’s drag so it will slightly give up some line during a hookset.

The local angler relies on Jakked Baits Finesse Jigs which feature multi-color skirts.  His favorite jig colors include black and blue with a dash of purple or chartreuse, green pumpkin or black and brown mixed with a shade of red or chartreuse.

The tournament veteran opts for 5/16- or 7/16-ounce finesse jigs for most of his pitching applications. However in “super clear” water he will switch to a 1/4-ounce model that he throws with spinning gear.

Matching the finesse jig with the right size trailer is crucial.  Maloney’s favorite soft plastic trailers include a bulky flipping tube and a 4-inch Strike King Rage Bug. He avoids tipping the jig with larger trailers, which would dominate the jig.  “You have to be careful when you start pushing up 4-inch or bigger trailers because it can dominate that little jig and really take the action out of it,” he says.  “If those tails on the trailer are too big you might as well throw just the trailer and not even have a jig on there.”

Maloney always tries to contrast the colors of his jig and trailer.  He experiments with different color combinations such as a black/blue jig with a smoke trailer or black/blue jig and green pumpkin trailer.
When fishing in gin clear water at Lake of the Ozarks Maloney scales down to 10-pound fluorocarbon and opts for 14-pound fluorocarbon for dirty water fishing.  Maloney claims the biggest mistake some anglers make is tying finesse jigs on 15- to 20-pound line because the heavier line kills the jig’s action.
 The finesse jig has produced for Maloney in all ranges of water color.  “It resembles a small crawfish or baitfish so I am not worried about the color of the water,” he says.

Maloney also likes to pitch the jig in the same cover as others probe with bigger jigs.  He swims it along the sides of docks or laydowns, skips it under docks to big bass sitting in the shade or casts it along bluffs or rocky banks.  “It’s a finesse jig, but it is still a jig so anything you can fish with a 1/2- or 3/4-ounce you can do with the little jig,” he says.  “It is a very versatile bait. I think a lot of people overlook it because they are so wrapped up in the heavier baits and they want to be able to feel those baits.”

The finesse jig is especially effective for Maloney when he targets lethargic bass that want a slower falling lure.  “It is just a whole different presentation in the fact that you just have to slow down and lighten up on your line,” he says.   “That is probably the one factor of the small jigs that people don’t like is that they have to fish them so slow to keep the feel.”

The two-time B.A.S.S. Nation Championship qualifier mostly fishes the finesse jig in shallow water, but he will present it to bass out to depths of 20 feet if he knows the fish are that deep.  Maloney suggests the finesse jig is a hard lure to search for bass because it has to be fished slowly, especially in water deeper than 12 feet. 
His finesse jig retrieve varies depending on the mood of the fish. Sometimes he swims the jig 1 to 2 feet off the bottom or hops it along the bottom. For inactive bass he deadsticks the jig, letting it sit on the bottom for about five seconds or longer. 

Maloney relies on his jig in all sorts of weather and in all seasons.  “It’s a 365-day-a-year jig,” he says.

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 funlake.com.  

For copies of John Neporadny’s THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Guide call 573/365-4296 or visit www.jnoutdoors.com.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Pro anglers to compete in pro-am fish and golf tournament at Lake of the Ozarks


Pro anglers to compete in pro-am fish and golf tournament at Lake of the Ozarks

Camdenton, Mo—Top-rated bass anglers will display their fishing and golf skills in a unique tournament Nov. 12-15 at the Lake of the Ozarks.
Old Kinderhook lodge and golf course and Lake of the Ozarks fishing resource website Bassing Bob will host the fifth annual 2019 Missouri Invitational Pro-Am Fish and Golf Tournament that provides amateur fishermen a chance to fish and golf with pro anglers. Among the fishing luminaries returning to compete in this year’s event are former Bassmaster Classic and FLW Cup champ Dion Hibdon, FLW All-American champions, Marcus Sykora, Jeremy Lawyer and Brian Maloney, Major League Fishing pros James Watson and Mike McClelland, FLW Tour pros Casey Scanlon and Dan Morehead and last year’s Missouri Invitational champ Mark Tucker, an eight-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier. The field also includes a host of regional tournament competitors and local fishing guides.
The festivities begin Nov. 12 at Old Kinderhook with a happy hour, dinner, live and silent auction for pairings and rules review.  Pairings are determined by the amateur anglers bidding in the live and silent auctions for the pro anglers they want as a partner for the three competition days. 
Fishing competition days will be Nov. 13 and Nov. 15 with weigh-ins at 4:15 p.m., each day the Old Kinderhook skating rink. The golf competition will be an 18-hole scramble at Old Kinderhook golf course.
A guaranteed pot of more than $30,000 and many other payouts and prizes will be determined by an accumulated points system for all three days including total weights for two day of fishing and the scoring from the 18 holes of scramble golf.  Golf will be scored as 1/2 pound for a par, 1 1/2 pounds for a birdie and 3 pounds for an eagle with a 2-putt maximum format per hole.
Legendary pro Dion Hibdon has competed in the tournament every year and looks forward to the fun and camaraderie of the event. “It is just a fun time,” Hibdon says.  “I fish against these guys and I see them every weekend but this event is just a little more laid-back situation. Everybody is just as hard core to win it as any other tournament but there is something about it that is just a little bit more laid back.”
Hibdon believes the event has also helped improve his golf game. “It is fun to jack with it a little bit,” he says.  The Missouri pro credits Sam Billmeyer, a retired Casey’s Stores executive who was one of Hibdon’s former co-anglers in the event, with helping him become a better golfer. 
The full list of pro anglers committed to this year’s Missouri Invitational is the following:
David Ryan
Marcus Sykora
Mark Wiese
Brent Algeo
Dennis Berhorst
Jim Young
Roger Fitzpatrick
Rob Bueltmann
James Watson
James Dill
Jack Uxa
Brian Maloney
Dion Hibdon
Payden Hibdon
Lawson Hibdon
Mike Eutsler
Kelly Power
Terry Blankenship
Mike McClelland
Dirk Sluyter
Jeremy Lawyer
Brett Govreau
Dan Morehead
Justin McClelland
Mark Tucker
Andy Newcomb
Tom Silber
Doug Henzlik
Bill McDonald
Todd Goade
Shawn Kowal
Wes Endicott
Casey Scanlon
Chuck Austin
Ben Verhoef
For more information about the Missouri Invitational, visit BassingBob.com.