Archive for Table Rock Lake

Swing Jig Bass Fishing on Table Rock Lake

Swing Jig Bass Fishing on Table Rock Lake

By Marc Rogers

At times, anglers find techniques that work and then get stuck in a habit of utilizing the same lures, with the same retrieves during most outings. These habits make it difficult for anglers to break out new lures and use new techniques. Once an angler moves from tried and true lures and techniques, they often develop the same habits with the newly learned methods and the cycle starts all over again. In the past, I too, have allowed myself to become a victim to these habits. In fact, at times, I still struggle with this problem.

Recently, I broke down and discovered a relatively new technique for catching bass. The swing jig is my latest newly discovered bass fishing technique. The Gene Larew Hard Head, developed by Tommy Biffle and first produced by Gene Larew Lures, was the first of this style of jig heads and has been duplicated by many lure companies. The new jig head was developed to be paired with the Gene Larew Biffle Bug.

During an August outing on Table Rock Lake with my family, I decided to test and become proficient with this rig. With children on this trip most of the daytime hours were spent swimming and pulling an inner tube to entertain them. Therefore, most of my fishing was going to be done at night while the rest of my gang was sleeping.

It was during this mini vacation I discovered how effective the swing jig could be at catching bass. The bass were in a typical summer pattern, holding in deep water. The Smallmouth bass were positioned in the main-lake areas near submerged bluffs and steep banks close to standing timber. The Smallmouths, during the daylight hours, were staged at 25- 40 feet, but after dark many moved into shallower water and were feeding at night.

Summertime night fishing can be slow, but this trip was quite different. I had three nights of consistently catching Smallmouth bass while experiencing little boat traffic and escaped the hot daytime temperatures. The Midwest Fishing Tackle Swing Jig paired with a Gene Larew Biffle Bug was the key ingredients to my success these August nights.

Each night I set out to discover the potential of this new rig and become better at using it. The swing jig is amazing, and most any soft-plastic lure can be presented using it. My focus was the Biffle Bug rigged on a 5/16 ounce head with a 4/0 VMC EWG hook. When trying to become proficient with any lure, I make it a point to fish with only that specific lure. This forces me to experiment with the rig and become creative in my offering.

While presenting this rig, I found it difficult not to hop it along the bottom like a jig or Texas rigged worm. Within the first hour of fishing, however, I discovered the swing jig is most effective when it is dragged slowly while in constant contact with the bottom. The lead head will hit and deflect off rocks and other debris at the bottom of the water column. The deflection of the lead head enables the soft-plastic lure to exhibit an erratic behavior similar to a crawfish.

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The bites I received were very light and often came when I offered a slight pause in the retrieve. Often times I did not realize my lure had fooled a fish until I started the retrieve and felt the added weight. When rigging this set-up I started the process just like a Texas rig but pushed the hook completely through the Biffle Bug leaving the hook point exposed, then skin hooking the point into the ribbed body. Doing so allowed me to use a pull-and-reel hook set when I felt the added weight of the fish.

My color choices for the Biffle Bug were dark colors including neon black and black with blue flake. Lighter colors were not as effective during the night but may have been more productive during daylight hours.

When dragging this rig along the bottom of the lake it acted much like a crankbait, deflecting off the rocks and wood cover. After a deflection is when I paused the retrieve producing many of the bites I received. While the Smallmouths I was targeting were somewhat lethargic, I am confident if they had been feeding more aggressively, they would have taken the offering while it was steadily moving along the bottom.

After using this bait exclusively for three nights of fishing I learned a lot about its fish catching abilities. This rig is certainly one I will keep tied on and ready on future outings.



Winter Bass Fishing On Table Rock Lake

By Marc Rogers

Located in Southwest Missouri, just minutes from Branson, is a beautiful body of water often overlooked by tourist seeking entertainment along Branson’s famous Highway 76 strip.  Table Rock Lake is an Ozark impoundment featuring deep pristine water created with the construction of Table Rock Dam on the White River in 1958.  The lake covers over 43,000 surface acres at 915 feet above mean sea level and has shoreline of 745 miles.  All but a small area of the lake is within the borders of Missouri.  A small portion is in Arkansas.

Table Rock Lake is home to many species of fish but the most sought by anglers are the Largemouth, Smallmouth and Kentucky (Spotted) Bass.  There are fishing tournaments available for competitive anglers almost every weekend of the year.  Table Rock Lake has been host to national events by B.A.S.S. and FLW Outdoors featuring professional bass anglers from around the world.

The lake receives most of its recreational pressure from late spring to early fall by water-sport enthusiasts seeking opportunities for boating, scuba diving, water skiing and fishing.  During the winter season the temperatures seldom get cold enough to cause freezing on the lake’s surface providing anglers with a year-round fishery.  Some of the best fishing opportunities are during the winter when seasonal anglers do not frequent the lake.  Many times seasonal anglers prefer not to fish in the colder temperatures and/or do not have the knowledge to catch bass in the colder water.

Most local anglers feel the Table Rock Lake has made the transition to winter conditions when the lake’s surface temperatures fall into the 40-degree range.  During this time the successful angling techniques of spring through fall have changed drastically.  Two Table Rock Lake professional guides have agreed to share their most productive methods for bass fishing on the lake during the winter season.

Don House is a full-time licensed guide on Table Rock Lake with over 15 years experience on the lake.  He has honed his skills fishing tournaments and guiding clients and is an expert deep-water angler.  Chris Tetrick is a full-time licensed guide on Table Rock Lake with over 20 years fishing these beautiful waters.  He has perfected the skills necessary to offer clients the opportunity to catch Table Rock Lake bass throughout the year.  Both Chris and Don spend over 250 days on the water keeping up with the seasonal patterns of the bass that call Table Rock Lake their home.

Chris and Don both feel winter fishing techniques prevail when the surface water of the lake reaches the middle to upper 40-degree range.  These two expert anglers agree that a jerkbait is very effective for catching cold-water bass.  Don prefers a Megabass X-80 Trick Darter in Tennessee Shad and Table Rock Shad colors while Chris likes a Suspending Rogue and McStick.  Don added he puts the finishing touches on the Megabass lure by “placing a stick-on, 1/16 ounce weight just in front the rear hook to give the bait a downward suspension of the tail.  Not to much weight or you lose the suspension feature of the bait”, he says.

Both also frequently use a spoon to take wintertime bass positioned deep in the lake.  Common weights are ½ – ¾ ounce spoons and colors range from silver, white and chartreuse.  Don added “The only thing I do is replace the treble hook with a High Performance wide gap treble hook and also add a stinger hook, single or treble on the line with a oval snap ring this allow the stinger hook to free fall on the line.”  When presenting a spoon Chris and Don both target deep fish following schools of shad or suspended above submerged treetops.  Chris says, “One of the more reliable patterns is looking for the deep fish. Mostly schools of Kentucky (Spotted Bass) following baitfish in the larger creek arms suspended 35 – 65 feet deep, over deeper water, either roaming with the shad or suspended in tree tops.  I use both spoons and grubs on a jig head to take the deep fish.”  Don agrees but says he prefers spoons for a deep presentation and his most productive depths are 25 – 50 feet deep.

Table Rock Lake is generally clear throughout the year but there are times when the water clarity is reduced because of heavy rain.  If faced with less than clear water Don says, “I present a jerkbait with slower retrieves and longer pauses between jerks of the bait.  Spoons require less jerking of the lure for a slower presentation.”  Chris added, “There are no worse conditions than cold and muddy water.  This condition requires a slower retrieve with any presentation.”

Both Chris and Don said their rod of choice for a jerkbait presentation is a 6’ 6” rod paired with a bait-casting reel featuring an adjustable braking system.  Many times conditions require casting these lures into the wind and the braking system is essential in preventing backlashes.  Chris says, “I like a 6’6” rod for the jerkbait to keep from hitting the water on twitches, one with a lighter tip action to absorb a violent strikes inflicted by the bass.  For a vertical presentation I use a 6′ to 6 ½’ rod to help keep the bait in the transducer cone better.”  Don says, “I use a 6’6” Grandt All-American Crankbait casting rod for jerkbaits teamed with a Ardent XS-1000 (6.3:1 gear ratio) with a Ardent replacement high volume spool.  For spoons I use a 6’6” Grandt All American medium heavy casting rod paired with an Ardent F-700 Flipping reel.”

Don and Chris do not share the same feelings about the choice of line.  Don says, “I use nothing but Seaguar Invix Fluorocarbon.  Eight – ten pound test for a jerkbait and 15 pound test for a spoon.”  Chris agrees about the benefits of fluorocarbon line for jerkbaits.  He says, “Fluorocarbon sinks, getting a jerkbait down a bit deeper but it is harder to work with.  I think the benefit of the depth may be worth the added stiffness in the line.  For a vertical presentation, using a spinning outfit, monofilament falls off a spinning reel better because it is more pliable, especially in the cold.”

Both Don and Chris stated that having high quality electronics on their boat are essential for locating deep fish. They also agreed that an angler must know how to use each feature of the units to be effective in locating bass.

Any angler who can brave the cold weather should visit Table Rock Lake during the winter season.  Some of the best fishing the lake has to offer can be found during winter.  Chris Tetrick and Don House can be contacted using the following information.

Chris Tetrick
http://www.midlakesguide.com

Don House
http://www.bransonfishingguideservice.com

Table Rock Lake is Ideal for the Wiggle Wart

By Chris Tetrick

Table Rock Lake has a bottom composition of large rock and gravel with many areas of standing timber still present. This rock assists in the production of an abundance of crayfish and they are a main staple in the bass’ diet. The lake is home to Smallmouth, Largemouth and Spotted Bass; all three capitalize on the crayfish when feeding.  One of the most productive crayfish imitators on Table Rock Lake is the Wiggle Wart crankbait.

The most productive seasons to entice bass with a Wiggle Wart is early spring and late fall.  In the spring, as water temperatures begin to rise in the lower 50-degree range, bass will begin to move up from their winter, deep water home, to stage in eight to twelve foot depths.  A Wiggle Wart is a great choice for the fish in this shallower water column. Good areas to present a Wiggle Wart in late winter and early spring are in the lake’s river arms and backs of creeks where the water warms up quicker. Concentrate on areas with chunk rock, this rock will collect sunlight helping the water warm quicker than other areas.

Typically, springtime Wiggle Warts fishing is most productive in late February, March and into April. The bite will typically pick up in the lake’s tributaries and work its way to the lower end of the lake as the water warms. Look for the fish to relate to nearby spawning areas in the creeks. In the fall, look for the Wiggle Wart bite to heat up in late October, November and December as the water temperatures fall back in the 50’s. Like in the spring, these baits are an excellent choice for catching Table Rock Lake bass in shallow water when they are feeding heavily to prepare for the winter. In the fall, look for rocky banks on the main lake, rock transition banks, secondary points in the creeks and channel swings.

Ideal rod choices for throwing Wiggle Warts are rods designed specifically for crankbaits in lengths of 6 ½ – 7 feet with medium to medium-heavy actions and flexible tips. The flexible crainkbait rod provides more action to the lures and flexibility when fighting fish. This type of rod, matched with 8-10lb. test flourocarbon line, is a great choice to use on a Wiggle Wart and other crankbaits. Flourocarbon, a sinking line, allows the bait to get down deeper, provides heightened sensitivity when lures contact structure, and is ideal for detecting bites due to low-stretch characteristics.

Often, in cold water, anglers make the mistake of retreiving the bait too fast. A slower retreive reel with a 5:1 gear ratio is a good choice. In warm water conditions, you may choose a faster retrieve reel such as a 6:3:1 ratio to increase the speed of the retreive.

Casting parallel to the banks with a Wiggle Wart allows you to cover water fast while keeping the bait in the strike zone throughout the entire retreive. Position your boat in 8-12 feet of water while paralleling the banks, and make long casts, to cover the greatest amount of fish holding water. Retrevial speed is crucial while fishing any crainkbait. The colder the water, the slower your retreive should be. Experiment with retreive speed until the fish indicate their preference. Often, quick pauses during the retrieve and stopping the bait briefly after coming in contact with rock or wood cover, can entices violent stirkes.

Choosing an effective color of Wiggle Warts vary with water clarity and sunlight conditions. Brighter colors like firetiger, watermelon and chartreuse often work well in dirty and stained water. In clear water and hightened sunlight conditions, Wiggle Warts with a clear belly or bill, like the Phantom Green or Natural Crayfish, will generally be more productive. At times, you may also find it productive to use baits that are well-worn and missing paint on the underside and bill.

Taking a new Wiggle Wart out of the package and throwing it may work, but there are many tricks and tips to make them perform better.  Out of the package, a new Wiggle Wart comes with #6 or #5 bronze treble hooks. Replacing these hooks with sharp black nickel hooks will assist you out in hooking and landing more fish. I switch mine to a #6 black nickel hook on the front and a #4 black nickel hook on the back. A smaller hook on the front seems to reduce hang-ups and helps to land more fish.

Tuning a bait to run correctly is essential. Often a new Wiggle Wart will not run correctly out of the package. A crankbait that has been running correctly can be knocked out of balance during use. Using fine needle-nose pliers, you can tune a Wiggle War to run correctly. If the bait is running to one side, you should correct this condition by slightly bending the eyelet on the bill in the opposite direction. A crankbait will not reach it maximum diving depth unless it is running straight in the water. To get a lure to dive beyond its intended depth consider attaching a Suspend Dot on the underside of the lure between the front hook and the area where the bill meets the body of the lure.  This added weight will also cause the bait to suspend during a pause in the retreive.

New style Wiggle Warts are made of a different material than the old originals produced before Rapala purchased Storm Lures. Many anglers expend great efforts to purchase the original Storm Lures Wiggle Warts due to their proven fish-catching capabilities. One way to tell the difference between a Wiggle Wart manufactured by Rapala is to check the name on the bill of the bait. The Rapala Wiggle Warts have “Storm” printed on the bill while the old ones instead have “Wiggle Wart”.

During the last few years, several professional bass fishing circuits have visited Table Rock Lake during the spring. The top finishers usually credit at least part of their catch to a Wiggle Wart. The Wiggle Wart is an old crankbait that continues to produce every year.

Table Rock Lake Fishing Guide Chris Tetrick has more information here

Table Rock Bass Spawning Stages

By John Neporadny Jr

 

Learning about the local geography can be beneficial to anglers when they want to fish a highland reservoir such as Table Rock this spring.

This Ozark highland reservoir is characterized by rolling valleys and steep hills The terrain around the lake is rocky with scattered cedar glades encircled by dense hardwood forests. The reservoir features main tributaries twisting through valleys and hollows. The rivers are fed by the spring rains and creeks flowing down from hillside springs.

Brush and cedars line the creeks that meander for miles before emptying into the main lake.  The upper ends of the lake consists of flooded cedars and hardwood trees standing in the pockets and creeks next to the main river channel. Table Rock can be divided into three distinct sections: (1) the lower end with its steep bluff banks and deep, clear water; (2) the mid-section with more sloping shorelines, long, gravel points jutting into deep water and a mixture of clear and off-colored water; and (3) the upper end with its riverine characteristics of stained to murky water flowing over long, flat stretches of shoreline combined with some steep channel swing banks.

Rock and timber provide the main cover for bass in Table Rock. The best spots to fish in the spring s are anywhere you find isolated boulders or rock combined with wood or gravel.  Chunk rock and gravel banks provide a forage base of crawfish for bass, while pea-gravel banks are the preferred spawning sites. When searching for wood cover, remember that cedar trees usually stand in shallow, rocky areas while hardwoods can be found in water 50 feet deep or more.

Knowing these common characteristics of a highland reservoir will help you develop springtime patterns that can be applied successfully at Table Rock. Let’s look at some of the top patterns that produce bass during the three stages of spring (pre-spawn, spawn and post-spawn) on this Ozark highland impoundment.

Pre-spawn

If you fish much in the early spring on this clear reservoir, you’ll notice  dying shad fluttering to the surface. This usually occurs when the water temperature is still in the upper 30-degree range or the low 40s as shad finally succumb to a long period of cold water. During this time, bass move out of the deep wintertime haunts to the 45-degree chunk rock banks, bluffs, channel swings and main or secondary points.  The most productive structure will have cedar trees where bass suspend in the wood cover.

To catch these suspended fish, throw a suspending deep-diving stickbait in black and silver or blue and silver. You can work the lure with either bait-cast or spinning tackle and 8- to 12-pound test line. Use 8-pound test line for open, clear water and switch to the heavier lines when fishing in stained water or in standing timber.

The suspending stickbait works best during this time of year because the lure’s buoyancy keeps it in the strike zone longer for suspended lethargic bass seeking an easy meal. The lure’s action and profile also imitates the dying shad that provide the main forage for bass in the early spring. Since bass tend to suspend at different depths depending on the weather, you need to vary the type of stickbaits and retrieves for these early spring fish.

Another early spring pattern that produces in the clear water areas, especially after a cold front, requires bouncing plastic grubs or jigs along chunk rock boulders of steep banks leading to pea-gravel spawning flats. The cold front causes bass to seek shelter on the rocky bottom where they feed on crawfish, so you want to use a lure that bounces along the rocks. Slowly lift the lure over the rocks with spinning tackle and 6- to 8-pound test line. One of the best soft-plastic rigs for bottom bouncing is a double-tail plastic grub with a 1/4-ounce rocker or stand-up jighead in crawfish colors (watermelon or pumpkinseed). A 1/4-ounce live rubber or hair jig tipped with a small plastic or pork chunk is also a good crawfish imitator that you can effectively crawl along the bottom this time of year.

Fishing on the upper ends of the lake turns on once the water temperature climbs above the 50-degree mark. Break out your heavy-action rod and bait-casting reel filled with 25- to 30-pound test line and slow-roll a spinnerbait or flip a jig. In the earliest stages of spring, bass on the upper end congregate along the points of pockets where they can be taken slow-rolling a white or chartreuse tandem willowleaf spinnerbait. A spinnerbait rolled over the rocky point produces enough vibration for bass to pinpoint this shad imitator in the off-colored water.

When the lake is on the rise, flip a jig into the flooded bushes of the upper end. If the lake level is normal, pitch the same combination to any wood cover you can find along the bank. Jigs in 3/8- to 1/2-ounce sizes and in color combinations of black/chartreuse, black/blue or black/brown work best for this pattern. The rapidly warming water of the upper end causes bass to move extremely shallow and burrow into the heaviest cover they can find. The flipping technique allows you to quietly present a slow-falling lure in front of the shallow fish and winch it out of the cover with your heavy tackle and line.

On the lower two-thirds of the lake, bass continue to migrate towards the spawning banks when the water temperature is in the low 50s. Bass become more active now and have a tendency to chase faster moving lures such as spinnerbaits or crankbaits.  Banging a crawfish or fire tiger medium-diving crankbait on the bottom in areas where chunk rock changes to small gravel can be a deadly technique during this time since bass feed heavily on crawfish before moving to the pea-gravel spawning flats. The technique works best when your lure digs into the rocks, so you need a medium-light action rod to make a long cast and a baitcast reel filled with 8- to 10-pound test line, which allows the lure to dive deeper.

As the water temperature moves into the upper 50s, bass in the lake’s lower and mid-sections tend to concentrate on the pea gravel points and flats in depths of 10 to 15 feet about halfway to three-quarters of the way back in coves. On sunny days look for the fish in the little pockets within the coves.

Bass lose interest in chasing anything now and prefer slower-moving, bottom-hugging lures as they continue to feed on crawfish. Tube jigs and plastic grubs catch some fish, but the quickest way to cover a lot of water and still work at a slow pace is to drag a Carolina-rigged plastic lizard or 4-inch finesse worm along the gravel bottom. Rig a watermelon seed or green pumpkin plastic lizard or finesse worm on a 3- to 4- foot leader of 10- to 12-pound test and add a 1/2- to 3/4-ounce bullet or egg-shaped weight. The heavy sinker stirs up silt as it bounces along the gravel bottom, which draws bass towards your lure. Vary your retrieve depending on the mood of the fish. Start with a   steady pace for aggressive fish, but if that fails to produce, switch to a slow pull with long pauses for sluggish bass.

Another good crawfish-imitator for this pre-spawn stage is a jig  and craw in a brown-and-black combination. Tie the lure on 12-pound test line for fishing in clear conditions and open water; thick cover requires heavier line. Pitch the lure to the bank and pop it off the bottom, then let it drop to simulate the action of a crawfish   scurrying along the bottom.

Spawn

When the water temperature climbs into the 60s, bass start building their spawning nests. Bass start to scatter along the pea gravel banks throughout the coves and construct spawning beds 3 to 6 feet deep, depending on the water clarity. On the lake’s upper end, the fish build nests even shallower in the dirtier water. The earliest spawning activity will be on the north side of the lake where the water warms faster due to more exposure to the sun and the south winds.

A good pair of sunglasses becomes an important tool when looking for spawning bass in the clear water. Since bass concentrate on building and protecting nests now, you need to use a lure that will slowly fall into the nest and stay there, which forces the bass to pick up the bait and move it out of the bed. A variety of soft plastics will do the trick, such as split- shotting a finesse worm or a 4-inch plastic lizard, or dropping a plastic grub with a 1/8- to 1/16-ounce stand-up jighead into the nest. Skipping a tube jig with a 1/32-ounce jighead over the top of a nest or slowly drifting a jerkworm into a nest also trick spawning bass. A suspending stickbait is also effective since it remains stationary in a nest and when a bass takes a swipe at it, the lure’s sets of treble hooks usually latch onto the fish.

When bass first move on the beds they tend to spook easier and are hard to catch. Switch to light spinning tackle now since you might even have to drop down to 4-pound test line in the clear water. You almost have to pitch your lure up on the bank or at least on the opposite side of the nest and drag it into the bed to prevent spooking the bass. If the fish spooks, leave the lure in the nest until the bass returns, then jiggle the lure to entice the fish into picking it up out of the bed. When bass are locked in on the nest, then you can throw your lures right on top of them and provoke them into hitting.

Hordes of minnows and sunfish pester nesting bass throughout the spawn, triggering bass to smash at anything swimming over the nest. Early in the morning, some bass attack topwater lures, such as chuggers, Zara Spooks, floating worms and buzz baits. The best topwater action during the spawn usually occurs after the water temperature climbs above 65 degrees.

Flipping and pitching continues to work for spawning bass in the river sections of the lake.  Look for pockets off the main river and target any shallow cover. The best lures for this shallow-water fishing include jigs and pork frogs or Texas-rigged plastic worms, lizards or craw worms. These larger profile lures work better in the upper end since bass can locate them easier in the dirtier water.  Pitch the lure into the cover and let it fall to the bottom. Shake the bait once or twice, then pull it out and pitch to another piece of cover.

Post-spawn

The spawn usually ends when the water temperature reaches the 70-degree mark. The arduous task of building nests and producing offspring puts a strain on bass that carries over into this period so slow-motion lures and  retrieves are  the key to catching bass now. The fish migrate to pole timber or points near the pea gravel banks where they suspend or drop to the bottom at depths of 10 to 18 feet. The location of the spawning bank determines what type of point holds post-spawn bass. If the bass spawned back in pockets, they move to secondary points before eventually migrating to the main lake points. Bass that spawned in main-lake pockets or in the upper river sections of the lake move to the primary points during the post-spawn.

One of the most exciting post-spawn patterns is topwater fishing, which is an effective early morning tactic in the clearer water of the lower and mid-sections. Male bass are easier to catch now since they stay near the surface to protect their fry. Bass strike at topwater plugs because they perceive these lures as a threat to their fry. A Zara Spook retrieved in a walk-the-dog fashion or a   stickbait barely twitched across the surface are two of the best topwater techniques for catching post-spawn bass on these lakes.  The stickbait works best on 8- to 10-pound test line, while a Zara Spook walks smoothly on 12- to 14-pound test.

Later in the day, bass tend to drop down and can be taken dragging the bottom with a Carolina-rigged plastic lizard or finesse worm. Look for long, pea gravel points that drop off into deep water (30 to 40 feet deep). Since you’re fishing deeper, use a heavier weight (3/4 ounce) on your Carolina rig. Stay away from the bank and cast close to the drop or beyond it, then drag your lure to the drop-off and let it fall off the edge. Pump the rig with the rod and stop it, then reel up the slack and pump again.  Stopping your retrieve allows the lure to rise up and gives the bass a chance to grab it off the bottom.

A Texas-rigged plastic worm is an effective slow-paced lure for catching post-spawn bass suspended in timber. Cast a 7- to 11-inch curly-tail worm with a 1/4-ounce bullet weight past the cover, let it slowly fall back into the timber and pull it up through the tree limbs. The fish will be holding at depths of 8 to 12 feet along the standing timber near the pea gravel banks or as the water continues to warm, they move out to the main lake points. Bait-casting equipment with 20- to 25-pound test line works best in the heavy timber and stained waters of Truman Lake, while 12 – to 14-pound test is more effective in the clearer waters of Table Rock, Stockton and Lake of the Ozarks.

For information on shows, lodging and attractions in the Table Rock Lake or Lake Taneycomo area or to receive a free vacation guide, call the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-877-BRANSON or visit the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce & CVB web site at  www.explorebranson.com

Copies of John Neporadny’s book, “THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Guide” are available by calling 573/365-4296 or visiting the web site www.jnoutdoors.com.


Summer Fishing on Table Rock Lake

By Marc Rogers

 

Fishing for bass on Table Rock Lake from early to late summer can be very frustrating for many anglers. This impoundment has very clear water and the bass seldom relate to the shallow water cover and structure this lake has. Even during the spawn bass often bed in water as deep as ten feet due the extremely clear water.  It is difficult for many anglers to locate bass in Table Rock Lake because most of the bass relate to cover and structure that is away from the banks.

After fishing with a Table Rock Lake angler I have learned some tips to share on catching suspended Spotted (Kentucky) Bass when many anglers fail to get a bite most days. Neil Huskey has been fishing Table Rock Lake for the past 30 years and has competed in many tournaments on the lake. He has agreed to share his knowledge on how to better the chances of productive fishing days on Table Rock.

I have had the pleasure of being employed by the same company with Neil for several years and worked right beside him for much of the time before he retired a few years ago. Also, I had the opportunity to fish from his boat on this lake and learned enough to not have to suffer through fishless days as I did before Neil shared his techniques with me of fishing Table Rock. He can, more often than not, catch many keeper sized spotted bass by using the techniques he has shared for this article.

Neil reports he targets the suspended fish after the spawn when they have moved to deeper water to recover form the rigors of the spring ritual. The first place to look for the bass is in 15 – 20 feet around submerged trees.  It is best to have a very sensitive graph to find this cover and possibly the fish around the cover. The sensitivity must be turned up high to see the detail and fish around the cover. At times the fish still will not appear on the graph display but they can still be caught by using a four inch worm or grub fished vertically around the trees. Neil says most of the time an angler will not feel the bite and recommends line watching for this technique because the only indication of a bite will be that the line stops before the lure has had time to reach the bottom.

As the summer progresses Neil suggests anglers should move out to the main lake points where submerged trees can be found at 80 – 100 feet deep with the top of the trees 20 – 40 feet below the water surface. These fish will also be hard to see with electronics because they blend in with the trees they are relating to. The most productive way to catch these bass is to make a vertical presentation with a four-inch worm just a couple feet above the top of the trees. With the sensitivity turned up the four-inch worm is visible on the graph as it falls.

Sharing the boat with Neil I have watched him just hold this worm and jig head combination still with only the movement of the boat causing any movement of the lure. When the fish are aggressive Neil says they will move towards the bait so fast it will created a line or streak on the graph display just before the bite occurs. However, many times the fish are not aggressive and will slowly move towards the bait and stay near it several minutes before finally biting.  Usually when they are not very aggressive the bite is very light.

The tackle of choice for Neil is a seven-foot medium-action spinning rod with a large spool reel. He uses 6 – 8 pound test line and this rod and reel combination allow for a solid and quick hook set.  He recommends the drag be set extremely tight so it doesn’t slip when setting the hook with 30 – 60 feet of line below the boat.

When fishing this way in deep water it is much better to back reel instead of relying on a drag system. Neil says “as soon as I hook a fish I bring it up about six feet and shift my anti-reverse to off in the process. When a fish makes a strong run I can back reel to keep from having the fish break off on the light line. When done properly a big fish can’t break you off in open water.”

During the middle of the summer when the water temperature on the surface is in the upper 80’s to low 90’s it is best to locate the shad that have began moving to the flats, bluff ends or channel swings. To locate productive water during these conditions Neil slowly runs his boat over these areas with the graph on looking for big schools of shad. The suspended bass will be either just under these shad or right among the school of shad feeding.  There are two productive techniques for catching these fish.  One is the vertical presentation with a four-inch worm or grub on a jig head and the other is using a heavy spoon. With the spoon it is best to move back from the shad and cast past them. The angler should count down the depth and use a lift and fall retrieve all the way through the area while keeping the lure at the depth the bass are holding. It is wise to use a medium heavy casting outfit with 14 – 20 pound test line when casting a spoon.

These techniques can be duplicated on most any deep – clear impoundment when the fish suspend. When beating the banks doesn’t work every angler should give this a try.
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Solving Table Rock Water Releases

By John Neporadny Jr

 

Table Rock Dam Water Releases

Water releases from the dams cause Table Rock bass to settle into a daily routine that anglers can easily pattern.

When water is released from the dam, the lake level starts dropping so bass vacate the shallows and congregate on offshore structure. This is the classic pattern for bass on a solitary impoundment, but the same scenario becomes muddled when trying to figure out water releases in the middle of a chain of reservoirs such as Table Rock.

A B.A.S.S. pro who has spent plenty of time on Table Rock and has developed game plans based on water releases is Brian Snowden. Here’s a look at how this tournament competitor finds bass during water releases from the dams at both ends of Table Rock.

Dual Flow

Table Rock bass relate to current the most when both the dam above the impoundment and the dam on the lower end release water at the same time to create a heavy flow.  Snowden encounters this situation often during power generation periods in the summertime on his home lake of Table Rock, the middle link in the White River chain of reservoirs that also includes Beaver, Taneycomo and Bull Shoals.  Since Table Rock is a massive, deep lake, the current during power generation is undetectable on the reservoir’s surface.

“That tends to make the fish suspend and a lot of times it will make them suspend on the inside of points,” suggests Snowden. “A lot of times the fish will face up current so you will want to throw to the up-current side. Even though you can’t feel any current against your boat you want to make sure you position yourself to where you are bringing your lure back downstream.”

When water is released from Beaver Lake and Table Rock dam at the same time, Snowden notices the best action for bass is usually on the upper ends of the rivers and the lower end of Table Rock, sections of the lake in which the current is moving the strongest. He usually avoids fishing the mid-lake section of this massive reservoir because it is the area least affected by current.

The local pro’s favorite tactics for dual flow situations include jerking  suspending stickbaits,  swimming plastic grubs, vertical jigging  drop-shot rigs and working  Carolina rigs at a fast clip. Bass will usually be in their summertime haunts on this deep, clear reservoir, so Snowden keys on drop-offs in the 15- to 20-foot depth range.

Upper Dam Release

Water being released from the upper dam while the lower dam is shut off causes a lake to rise.

“If it has been several days since they have been running any water at Table Rock dam the fish will move up shallow,” says Snowden.  This situation usually occurs in the spring and summer on Snowden’s home waters and he notices all sections of the lake produce then.

Snowden keys on the flat gravel points during the initial rise and throws either a Carolina rig or a plastic grub. However when the lake level inundates the banks he targets flooded wood cover and pitches a jig or spinnerbait.

Lower Dam Releases

Fishing gets toughest on Table Rock when the upper dam shuts off, but the lower dam keeps releasing water.  “That seems like the most difficult scenario because the fish suspend the most then,” says Snowden. The three-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier resorts to swimming a plastic grub for fish suspended 15 feet deep over depths of 20 to 30 feet.

Snowden can catch some bass on the upper end of the lake when a draw down starts and the fish are still in shallow cover. As the lake continues to fall though, the local pro moves to the lower end of the reservoir where he keys on channel bends that swing into long tapering points. He positions his boat over 50 to 60 feet of water and casts the grub into the 20- to 30-foot range to catch suspended bass.

Contending with water releases from two dams makes it a little together to pattern bass on Table Rock. Yet if you learn how bass go with the flow of the dams you’ll be in the right spot at the right time to catch these  nomadic fish.

For information on shows, lodging and attractions in the Table Rock Lake or Lake Taneycomo area or to receive a free vacation guide, call the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-877-BRANSON or visit the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce & CVB web site at www.explorebranson.com.

Tracking Water Release Schedules

Checking out the water release schedules on a reservoir chain can help you pinpoint when and where to catch bass on certain impoundments.

Brian Snowden suggests calling a reservoir’s powerhouse, which usually provides a recording of the dam’s water release schedule for the next couple of days.  On his home waters, Snowden notices certain spots produce better when four generators are running at Beaver and Table Rock dams, while other spots turn on when three generators are operating at both of the dams. By calling the powerhouse, Snowden can figure out which spots will work best that day.

Mark Menendez suggests anglers can also go online to find out a lake’s generation schedule.  You can check out the daily release schedules of Tennessee Valley Authority dams by visiting www.tva.gov or forecast elevations of Army Corps of Engineers dams at the Corps’ various district web sites.

Reprinted from Bassmaster Magazine.