Reel Chat with Fantasy Fishing experts - Major League Fishing

Reel Chat with Fantasy Fishing experts

Weighing in on Table Rock
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March 10, 2009 • MLF • Archives

Welcome to FLW Live Reel Chat. Today we’re joined by our resident FLW Fantasy Fishing experts, who are here to answer all of your questions regarding the 2009 Fantasy Fishing season. With over $10 million in cash and prizes at stake in this year’s contest, FLW Fantasy Fishing remains the most lucrative fantasy sports contest ever realized. So without further delay, let’s get started.

Q: Why isn`t Andy Morgan getting any votes? Is this a tournament he won`t do good in?
— Shane (Bryan, Texas)
A: Andy certainly has a chance at doing well. However, Table Rock is currently being dominated by crankbaits and jerkbaits. Morgan is best known as a shallow flipper. There is some stained water in the backs of creeks that Morgan could possibly flip to, but most of the lake right now lends itself to fishing with reaction baits. Morgan is a good pick on just about any lake not dominated by smallmouth bass.

Q: On Players Advantage, what’s the most important feature to pay attention to?
— Stan (Buffalo, N.Y.)
A: I don’t think any one tool can tell you everything you need to know (all the tools can be helpful in their own way), but I’d definitely focus on the Pundits’ Picks section and the Lake/Angler Matchup to start with, then focus on the Fantasy Trends and pretournament fishing videos to make final tweaks to your lineup.

Q: What types of weights will we see in this event for the first two rounds of fishing as well as the final two days at Table Rock?
— Mike Anders (Flat Rock, N.C.)
A: Thirty-five pounds will probably be enough to make the top-10 cut over the first two days of competition. Some anglers have said that we’ll see multiple 20-pound sacks during the tournament – but those weights will be seen as pretty heavy for Table Rock. However, it may take 40 pounds over the final two days to claim the top prize of $125,000. That being said, the cold front that’s expected to blow on through could have an effect, but probably won’t shut the fish down.

Q: Can you guys ask any pro if it will take a mixed bag of fish to take Table Rock this year? Thanks .
— Charles Dudley (Westerlo, N.Y.)
A: It will very likely take a mixed bag of fish to win on Table Rock Lake. The primary species will be largemouth, but Table Rock has some fat spotted bass (up to 4 pounds) and many smallmouths in the 3- to 4-pound range. A good tournament 20-pound sack could consist of three largemouth bass, one good smallmouth and one good spotted bass. As a general rule of thumb, smallmouth bass aren’t as reliable as largemouths. And because of the relative lack of numbers of spotted bass on Table Rock, it’s difficult to target spotted bass exclusively.

Q: What do you think will be the most prominent pattern at Table Rock? Deep crankers? Shallow?
— Todd (Prattville, Ala.)
A: I think shallow-running crankbaits (crayfish color) on points, bluff banks and channel swings will be the dominant pattern. In addition, jerkbaits will be extremely popular with jigs largely playing third fiddle.

Q: Where is the weigh-in at, and what time is it at? Thanks.
— Jer (Branson, Mo.)
A: For the first two days, weigh-ins will take place at 3 p.m. Central time at Table Rock State Park Marina located just off Highway 165 South in Branson, Mo., 65616. Phone: (417) 334-2628. Day-three and Day-four weigh-ins will take place at the Branson Convention Center, 200 E. Main St., Branson, Mo., 65616. Phone (417) 336-5401. For more details, check out this link for the Details section of the tournament.

Q: How many anglers participate in the tournaments?
— Jack (Austin, Texas)
A: There are 150 pros and 150 co-anglers. However, for fantasy purposes, you only need to be concerned with the pro field.

Q: Should I be paying attention to weather forecasts? Are there certain anglers who fish better under certain conditions?
— Debbie (Los Angeles, Calif.)
A: That’s tough to say. However, this cold front will likely give some of the advantage back to the locals. The warm weather the Branson area has received the last four days has begun to push the fish shallow. However, the cold front will likely halt the migration, push the fish back out into deeper water and give some advantages back to the local anglers.

Q: In your opinion, which one dark-horse angler should the other pros watch out for at Table Rock?
— Jason Crowder (Charleston, W.Va.)
A: Here are a couple of dark horses: Robbie Dodson, a local who has had a lot of success in the Stren Series Central Dvision; Danny Pierce of Greenbrier, Ark.; and Lendell Martin Jr. of Texas. Martin has a lot of BASS experience on Table Rock and recently did well at the Stren Series Championship at Table Rock. Travis Fox is another angler who could be a real dark horse for this event.

Q: Who is favored to win Table Rock?
— Jeff (Boston, Mass.)
A: If you have to pick one angler, it’s Stacey King. King has guided on this lake his entire life and has personally designed jerkbaits for springtime fishing on Table Rock Lake. However, there are a handful of other anglers who have a good chance at doing well such as Greg Bohannan, Clark Wendlandt, and both Dion and Guido Hibdon. Basically, Table Rock Lake is a “pattern” lake, not a fishing-spot lake, which means this tournament is wide open to any pro who can get on the right pattern.

Q: I think a 1/2-ounce Berkley Frenzy lipless rattling crankbait will take the top-10 spot at the Table Rock Lake tournament. What do you think guys?
— Charles Dudley (Westerlo, N.Y.)
A: Not likely. The Frenzy is a great bait, and it played a major role at Lake Guntersville, but it likely won’t play the same role at Table Rock. We think the two most popular baits will be the Storm Wiggle Wart and Smithwick Rogue.

Q: How comfortable is David Fritts at Table Rock?
— Chris Austin (Lake Ariel, Pa.)
A: I think he’s really comfortable fishing Table Rock. He’s fished the lake many times before, and the fish are biting the crankbait right now. And that’s pretty much all you need to know. However, Fritts does best when casting his crankbaits to a specific piece of structure. As of now, Table Rock is wide open and will likely be won running a pattern, not specifically fishing one piece of structure. For more information on David Fritts’ chances, check out the Reel Chat we had with him shortly after his win at Lake Guntersville. Click here to access that story.

Q: In the last tournament, it seemed like you had to be good with the Shad Rap. What will be the most effective lure at Table Rock, and who is known for using it the best?
— Korb (Tampa, Fla.)
A: Two of the better jerkbait fishermen on Tour are probably Stacey King and Brent Ehrler, and jerkbaits should be an effective lure this time around. Two of the better Wiggle Wart (crankbait) fishermen around are Brennan Bosley and Clark Wendlandt, and that bait should be highly effective as well.

Q: Will there be a creek bite during this cold front, or will everything be a deep bite? Also, do cold fronts affect bass more or baitfish like shad?
— Shane (Bryan, Texas)
A: Within the last few days of practice, the water was warming up steadily, and the fish were slowly moving shallower. The long-term forecast calls for cooling temps, which should push the fish back. At a minimum, it will halt a massive migration to the bank. Still, channel swings located in creeks will likely prove to be a popular location as will bluff banks. Cold fronts affect predatory fish like bass more than baitfish like shad. Frequent swings in water temperature can result in a major shad kill, which happened at Guntersville. This makes jerkbaits more effective because these baits mimic struggling shad.

Q: I don’t live near Table Rock Lake. Can I watch the weigh-in online?
— Stephanie (Hudson, Wis.)
A: Yes, you can using our FLW Live feature on With FLW Live, you’ll be able to view the entire weigh-in live for each of the four days of competition. Shortly before the start of weigh-in, access FLW Live through the link provided under “bass” navigation at home pages. Or click here.

Q: With the weather changes cause anglers to abandon their practice patterns, or will the temperature not be that big of a factor on the bite?
— Chris Austin (L.A., Pa.)
A: Things will definitely be different from today, the last day of practice until Thursday, the start of competition. Water temperature will be colder, and the fish will have likely changed locations somewhat. This is why locals will regain some of the advantage as locals have more experience dealing with this exact type of weather change in the past. As a result, locals have a pretty good idea where the fish will position themselves during this weather change. It may take longer for nonlocals to reconnect with their fish. But then again, these are some of the best anglers in the world we’re talking about, so don’t count out the wily veterans who don’t necessarily have a local advantage.

Q: Am I crazy to have Randall Tharp in my top 10? Also, what time is the cutoff for changing my team?
— RedfishMan (New Orleans, La.)
A: You’re not crazy for having Randall Tharp in your picks. He’s a great up-and-coming angler and is one of the favorites to win this year’s Rookie of the Year award. That being said, Tharp has a little more experience fishing grass fisheries in the Southeast, so it’s not a lock he’ll do well. As far as the cutoff time for changing your Fantasy Fishing team, it’s Wednesday, March 11, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time.

Q: At what depth are the jig fishermen most likley going to be productive? Is it mid-depth, say 5 to 10 feet deep, or more like 15 feet deep or greater?
— Mike A. (Flat Rock, N.C.)
A: I think jig anglers will be productive at the 8- to 12-foot ranges, particularly on channel swings. Had the weather stayed warm, jig fish could have been caught as shallow as 5 feet.

Q: How do you feel about Mark Rose’s chances?
— Trevor (Alexandria, Minn.)
A: Pretty darn good. Rose does well in the Ozarks, he’s a good jig fisherman, and he is also good with reaction baits. In 2007 at a Stren Series tournament on Bull Shoals, Rose took second place. The significance? That tournament should fish very similar to this event.

Q: The last time Mark Pack fished Table Rock, he notched a fourth-place finish and does well fishing the conditions expected on the lake this weekend. What are his chances of pulling a top-10 finish or possibly a win here?
— Kenny (Philadelphia, Miss.)
A: He’s definitely a good angler, and he fishes well in the Ozarks – which is strange considering he lives near Lake Fork in Texas. Pack is a strong pick, but I wouldn’t consider him a favorite.

Q: Has anyone ever picked all 10 anglers correctly?
— Sean (Jackson, Miss.)
A: No, not at this point.

Q: What is the difference between November fishing and March fishing as far as crankbait fishing on Table Rock Lake?
— Charles Dudley (Westerlo, N.Y.)
A: In general, the fish are deeper and more grouped up in the fall than in the spring. As a result, shallow-running crankbaits tend to be more effective in the spring.

Q: I think Stetson Blaylock could be the next Rookie of the Year instead of Randall Tharp. What do you think?
— Charles Dudley (Westerlo, N.Y.)
A: Like Tharp, Blaylock is a great bet to win the 2009 FLW Tour Rookie of the Year award at this point.

Q: I noticed that Dion Hibdon is falling in the practice rankings. Why is this?
— Steve (Houston, Texas)
A: Dion Hibdon filled out a survey based on his angling preferences that’s been incorporated into the data for the online ranking system. As a result of those preferences, he’s fallen a bit in the rankings. However, Dion should be considered a strong tournament favorite, especially if the fish continue biting a jig.

Fantasy Fishing fans, unfortunately, that’s all the time we have for our chat right now. We appreciate the tremendous volume of questions and wish there was time to answer them all. However, will continue to provide as many installments of the FLW Live Reel Chat series as possible as we head deeper into the 2009 season. Again, a very special thanks to all of the fans who participated in today’s Fantasy Fishing Reel Chat special on