Regional Reports-Midwest

Ozark streams

There is no better tactic for catching trophy smallmouths in Ozark streams than to use a tube lure. The four-inch, hollow, soft-plastic baits have the size and profile of a mature crayfish, a big bronzeback's favorite food, and are most effective when fished slowly around large rock formations found in most Ozark streams. Unlike most jig and soft-plastic combinations, the tube lure must be fully rigged before it can be tied onto your line. To rig, insert a 1/8-ounce jig into the hollow, rear portion of the tube lure, push the jig forward to the front of the bait, force the eye of the jig through the soft-plastic body and then tie it to a six-pound line. Try canoeing the Big Piney and Gasconade rivers, where scenic bluffs line long stretches of deep, boulder-strewn water flowing at a speed that allows tube lures to sink where big smallmouths lurk. Contact: Missouri Department of Conservation (573-468-3335).