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  

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