UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Dardanelle

Everything on the Table at Table Rock

Everything on the Table at Table Rock

No matter how they want to do it, anglers are going to catch fish on Table Rock Lake this week. Like, a lot of fish.

Stop No. 2 of the Costa FLW Series Central Division, which is presented by Power-Pole and hosted by Explore Branson, is primed to be an all-out show. It seems like the lake’s entire population of bass is rushing to the bank to spawn, with all three species willing to eat a vast array of offerings. The only question: Will Mother Nature play nice?

 

About the fishery

As far as Ozark impoundments go, Table Rock isn’t much different than the rest. The southern Missouri reservoir features everything you could ask for to catch a bass from other than grass. How it differs from the rest, though, is that you can weigh in quality largemouths, smallmouths and spotted bass – something not all Ozark fisheries can offer. 

The White River is the major tributary and is prime country to find big largemouths, though spotted bass and smallmouths can be encountered as well. The James River also feeds Table Rock and is smaller and narrower than the White, but offers some dirtier water and plenty of laydowns. The lower end of the lake has the deepest, cleanest water and the highest abundance of smallies and spots. So, really, you can pick a section of the lake that fits your style best and catch fish. 

 

Current conditions

Greg Bohannan has fished Table Rock all his life. He’s never seen so many fish spawning at one time.

“It’s unreal,” Bohannan says. “And it [the impressive spawning activity] is everywhere. Up the rivers. The clear water. The gin-clear.”

The lake is currently 5 feet above pool, which has only made the expansive reservoir all that much larger, but it’s also opened up even more patterns, as Bohannan says there’s miles of flooded brush and even some flooded bank grass, both of which he feels will play for anyone looking to flip.

He says lake managers are trying to draw the lake down, but with storms all last night and into this morning (with even more forecasted throughout the event), Bohannan doesn’t feel a guy who puts his eggs in the flooded-cover basket will have to worry about it going away.

Of course, sight-fishing is going to be a major player this week. Even if the clouds, rain and winds make sight-fishing a little more of a challenge, there are just so many fish up and so many places where the water is clear that plenty of pros will make hay with their eyes.

Then again, pretty much any pattern a pro wants to do will be in play, which actually adds an interesting wrinkle.

“A guy might have four, five or six patterns where he can catch a good limit,” Bohannan says. “I mean, the flipping, sight-fishing, prespawn, postspawn, topwaters; I’ve even seen a little shad spawn and a schooling bite. A guy is going to have to pick a pattern, and he better pick the right one.

“Everyone is going to catch fish. It’s a matter of picking the pattern that allows you to get those 3-pound bites.”

 

Critical factors

  • Weather – There is a major front moving through, with severe storms last night and into this morning. Plus, the winds and clouds will make sight-fishing a little tougher for some pros.
  • Picking a pattern – Too many options can actually be a bad thing, because it could cause guys to get spun out trying to figure out which one to start on or switch to at any time.
  • 3-pounders – A pro should be able to catch all the 2- to 2 1/2-pounders he wants. Three-pounders and up will be at a premium, regardless of species.

 

Dock talk

It’s ironic when pros complain about catching too many fish, which has been the case while preparing for this tournament.

“Everyone has the same story,” Bohannan says. “They can catch 2- to 2 1/2-pounders all day long. I’m talking 50 to 60 bites just from one area. They are having hard times trying to catch those 3- and 4-pounders, because they’re in here, and in all three species.”

Bohannan says pros are prepping for this tournament similar to a Northern event, with super-stacked weights where ounces will make a big difference, particularly around the 13- to 14-pound mark. 

Fortunately, what everyone is loving is how open the lake will fish.

“I fished all day one day in practice and only saw two other boats,” Bohannan says. “It’s great. There are enough fish in any given area that a guy can win from anywhere. So guys are really going to be able to spread out.”

 

Tournament details

Format: All boaters and co-anglers will compete for two days. The top 10 boaters and co-anglers based on cumulative weight after two days of competition will advance to the third and final round, with the winner determined by the heaviest cumulative three-day weight.

Takeoff Time: 6:00 a.m. CT

Takeoff Location: Table Rock State Park Marina, 380 State Park Marina Road Hwy 165, Branson, MO 

Weigh-In Time: Days one and two: 2:00 p.m. CT; day three: 3:00 p.m. CT

Weigh-In Location: Table Rock State Park Marina on days one and two; Bass Pro Shops at 1 Bass Pro Drive, Branson, MO on day three

Tags: table-rock  spawn  largemouth  smallmouth  spotted-bass  fishing  sean-ostruszka  morning-story 

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