Ulrich Marine Newsletter, Winter 96/97

Spring Fishing on Table Rock

       by Jim Van Hook

Ah yes, Spring! When a young manís fancy turns to , well, fishing, of course!  And fishing Table Rock Lake in the Spring can rival the best Bass fishing in the country! Spring is your best opportunity to catch a real lunker and one of the most fun aspects is that you can be successful with a large variety of baits and techniques.  A question that I get asked as often as any is, ďWhenís the best time to come in the Spring?Ē. As with any area, it depends on how early or late our Spring is running. Normally, by early to mid-March, things have started heating-up in the river arms. The mid-lake and dam area patterns usually follow 2 to 4 weeks after the river. A local favorite is the James River arm in the Cape Fair area. Anglers will be throwing suspending baits, such as Rogues, in the flooded trees and along the gravel banks. Silver/blue, silver/black, and the clown color are local favorites. These suspending baits account for some real lunkers! Use a longer, medium-action rod so those larger fish wonít tear off.

Crawdad colored crankbaits, such as Stormís Wiggle Wart, start producing some nice catches this time of the year. Fish them along the bluffs, chunk rock, or the gravel spawning banks. Your retrieve speed should vary according to the water temperature. The colder it is, the slower you crank. Sometimes it also pays off to weight these lures, either with solder or the newer Suspend Dots & Strips. Put enough weight on your bait to make it neutrally buoyant so it will just hang there when you stop the retrieve. Donít be afraid to throw your shad pattern crankbaits also.

Grubs, gitzits, hula grubs, and Carolina-rigged worms & lizards produce large numbers of fish as the water warms and the fish move up. Fish the points up the river arms and in the coves. Drag or hop your plastic bait back to the boat and youíre sure to connect with some of Table Rockís feisty Bass population. A jig and pig combo can work as well. Crawl it along the bottom and thru the tree branches. As your bait falls free of a branch, watch your line and hang on! Thatís when youíre likely to get bit.

As the water continues to warm and we get into mid to late Spring, spinnerbaits and various topwater lures get their share of the action. A white tandem spinnerbait always has a place on one of my rods Spring thru Fall. They can be especially effective around docks. Topwater baits, of course, are most anglers favorites. Who can possibly not get excited as a giant Bass smashes your topwater worked across the surface? Good choices are Zara Spooks, Chug Bugs, the newer Double Bug, buzzbaits, and floating worms. Just remember, donít set the hook until you feel the fish!

An overlooked aspect of Spring fishing (and Summer thru Fall,  for that matter), but not to those familiar with it, is night fishing. Fishing at night accounts for some of the biggest Bass caught  on Table Rock, especially from Auntís Creek all the way to Long Creek. Jig and pig combos and large spinnerbaits have accounted for many lunkers from this area of the lake.

· CAUTION!!!   Make sure that you are familiar with the area you are going to fish at night. Make certain running lights are working, you have a handheld light, and wear your PFD. Also note, Table Rock has a 30 mph speed limit at night.

Try Table Rock this Spring. Youíre bound to have a great time fishing amidst the beauty of the Ozarks. Want to help insure your fishing success? Hire a professional guide for a day, or even a half-day. Heíll put you on some current patterns & locations so you will have a great place to start from. Itís a good investment in the success of your fishing trip!

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Jim is the owner/operator of Hookís Guide Service on Table Rock Lake. He can be reached at 1-800-603-4665.

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