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Pond Hopping – Table Rock

Pond Hopping – Table Rock

Apr 18, 2012

Tactics tailored to a “T” at Table Rock

By Mike Pehanich

It’s no wonder that a lot of the Bassmaster Elite Series pros pick Table Rock Lake as their favorite highland reservoir in the fabled chain of White River waters on the Arkansas-Missouri border. The lake has character, variety, and a ton of fish!

The pros were here in abundance, practicing for the third Bassmaster Elite Series event of the season on neighboring Bull Shoals. I hooked up with four of the top pros on the circuit — Kevin VanDam, Gary Klein, Gerald Swindle and Casey Ashley – thanks to the folks at Zebco/Quantum and Toyota Trucks.

Kevin VanDam found a mix of catchable smallmouth, largemouth and spotted bass in one prime location during his warm-up on Table Rock for this week's Bassmaster Elite Series event.

Since tournament water is off-limits until the beginning of the pros’ official Monday practice session, the “Table” gives them a “feel” for this family of deep, steep, rocky reservoirs and the spring patterns of their resident bass.

The lakes are known for their rock basins, deep river and creek channels, and standing timber. At times, bass anglers gush with praise and call them “fish factories.” Yes, the bite can get tough, too, especially in late summer, when the same fishermen who hailed them earlier start calling them “tough nuts to crack.” But it’s “game on” right now!

Another facet of these lakes that tickles the bass gene in all of us is that it holds the Big Three of the black bass family: largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass.

Right now crankbaits, spinnerbaits and jigs are producing consistent catches, and you can catch pre-spawn, spawn, and post-spawn fish among all three species.

Thinkin’ “small”

These White River reservoirs invite you to take a “small waters” approach. These are big, big reservoirs, but the pros break each target area down and fish each section as if it were a small water all its own.

First, they determine the fish’s seasonal needs and look for areas of the lake that might suit them.

Second, they look at water color and water level. Has the generally clear water become murkier? If so, why and how long will it last? Is the lake rising or falling? Are significant storms likely to have an effect?

Casey Ashley plays to his strengths whenever he can, as this "walking bait" largemouth proves.

Third, they study maps and their electronics to pick out prime structural elements like points, flats, and areas filled with potential to hold fish.

Fourth, they get to work with their bag of “confidence” tactics and techniques that will work under the conditions they are facing.

From there, every one of them tailors his approach to his style of fishing. That’s where things separate and tournaments are won and lost.

Check out our coming features and videos with Kevin VanDam, Gary Klein, Gerald I Swindle and Casey Ashley to see how they size up sections of water and get to work fishing them in the style that works for them!

Gerald Swindle tested areas and tactics he thought most anglers would overlook under current conditions.

One comment

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