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

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