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.
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.