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Carolina Rig for Lake of the Ozarks Bass

Every month of the year, Lake of the Ozarks offers great opportunities to catch bass of all sizes, including 5+ pound bass.  During the spawn and post-spawn, you can locate the bass in water anywhere from one to 10 feet of water.  As the water temperature rises near the end of June, the bass have moved from post-spawn locations to deeper water.  The Carolina rig, which is also known as the C-rig, is a very effective method for catching bass that are on long points that lead to major creek and river channels, road beds, and gravel type flats.


The basic Carolina rig consists of a 3/4 ounce, bullet shaped sinker with a plastic bead on the main line above a small swivel.  The plastic bead protects the knot by keeping the weight from hitting the swivel and makes a small ticking noise when the weight hits the bead.  The leader can be two to three feet and tied to the hook.  The size of the hook depends on the size of the bait you are using.  Small baits such as 4” finesse worms, tube, or fluke are best used with smaller hooks.  Larger hooks are used for 8” lizards, large brush hogs, and other large type creature baits, for example.  There are several pre-fabricated C-rigs available that may only need a hook and swivel to complete the rig.

The C-rig is one of the most popular rigs used for bass fishing in the spring and is an excellent choice to introduce to a new angler in the spring when fishing is at its best.  Try areas of transition from larger rocks to pea gravel.  These are areas where the bass will stage while moving in and out of searching for a bedding location.  After the cast it is important to watch your line for movement or be ready for a subtle tap as many times the bass will strike on the fall.  Many times you will not feel the bite, but you will see your line begin to move up to the left or right.  One important key is to let the bait sit for a few seconds before retrieving.  After a few seconds, begin dragging the bait back while keeping the sinker on the bottom.  Fishing in these types of locations in the spring with a c-rig is a great way to catch a big bass because they not only catch spawning fish, but also lunker females that are waiting to move up to spawn.

A Carolina rig is a great choice for searching for bass relating to the deep structure that many anglers ignore during the transitional period after spawn as they migrate to deeper water.  Try locating deep water structure with your depth finder by looking for rock piles, humps, ledges, and long sloping points.  If there are bait fish in the area, this is a great indicator that bass will congregate there.

When making your retrieve, remember that long sweeps of the rod force a “floating” lure downward to the bottom where it will again begin its upward rise.  Dragging is best when fishing relatively uncluttered bottoms.  The rig can also be retrieved by lifting and dropping the weight, which will cause the lure to follow and then slowly drift back to the bottom.  Many strikes occur as a lure drops.  This works well if you’re fishing an area where the bottom is heavily covered with rocks, as you will hang up less by lifting the rod vertically rather than dragging it.

Lake of the Ozarks is the most diverse fishing lake in the Midwest.  You can catch large bass any month of the year regardless of the conditions.  The Carolina rig is an excellent choice here as there are many pockets, secondary and main lake points, hundreds of miles of channel banks, pea gravel, chunk rock, ledges, and bluffs.  These locations all hold fish at various times of the year.  Give the C-rig a try and hold on tight because it is a proven technique that catches many large bass.

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