The Championship Round of the seventh stop on the Bass Pro Tour presented new challenges on Table Rock Lake.

BRANSON, Mo. – One of the realities of competitive bass fishing is that conditions can change on a fishery in the blink of an eye. One condition that existed on a fishery on Day 1 can be totally different on Day 2 and so on, which forces anglers to make adjustments on the fly.

In the case of Bass Pro Tour Bad Boy Mowers Stage Seven Presented by Covercraft, the challenge awaiting the 80-man MLF field was in “rediscovering” a fishery that they had first started to decipher two weeks earlier.

Heavy flooding forced a change in competition sites for Stage Seven, bringing the Bass Pro Tour field back to Table Rock Lake, Missouri, for a second go-around.

Here are some of the factors to watch for Saturday, Nov. 16 as Episode 7 of the MLF Bass Pro Tour premieres on Discovery (7 to 9 a.m. in both the Eastern and Pacific time zones):

How to Read ‘The Rock’?

Almost as soon as Aaron Martens hoisted the Stage Six championship trophy, the 80-angler field began the task of deciphering what Table Rock would look like for Stage Seven. During their first go-around on this Ozarks impoundment, the water levels were 5 feet higher than normal for the time of year, there was a significant shad spawn, and Table Rock’s fish were scattered through late-spawn and post-spawn.

For Stage Seven, anglers arrived to clearing waters, and fish that had finished spawning and had moved further toward summer cover and depths.

Kevin VanDam ready to battle for the Stage Seven championship. Photo by Phoenix Moore

And they found highly willing biters: 5,631 bass had made it onto SCORETRACKER® during the first five rounds of Stage Seven, including 1,300-fish days in the first Shotgun Round and the Knockout Round. That included an 88-fish day for Jacob Wheeler in the first Shotgun Round and nine anglers who cleared the 50-fish mark in one of the championship-qualification rounds.

That hinted at an all-out slugfest in the Championship Round, which viewers will see Saturday on Discovery.

The Stage Seven Championship Field

The Championship 10 lineup for Stage Seven includes Wheeler, Kevin VanDam, Brandon Palaniuk, Dustin Connell, Cody Meyer, Adrian Avena, Scott Suggs, Ott DeFoe, Fred Roumbanis and Jesse Wiggins. That lineup included an even mix of anglers making returns to the Championship Round (Connell, DeFoe, Palaniuk, Roumbanis and Wheeler) and first-timers to a Bass Pro Tour championship (VanDam, Avena, Suggs, Meyer and Wiggins).

Jacob Wheeler had put up record numbers in the first Shotgun Round at Stage Seven. Photo by Phoenix Moore

Which Pattern(s) Will Rule?

The final 10 anglers had leaned on a combination of patterns and baits to make it through the first five rounds, most notably topwaters, shaky heads, drop-shots, wake baits and crankbaits. The biggest potential X-factor was the timing of the competition: While the first five rounds were contested in the afternoon and early evening, the Championship Round returned to the more traditional morning-to-early-afternoon competition schedule.

That shift in timing meant that the evening topwater bite would be out of play, and that the final 10 would have to adjust their plans accordingly.

How, When, Where to Watch

Major League Fishing’s Bass Pro Tour Episode 7 premieres Saturday, Nov. 16 on Discovery (7 to 9 a.m. in both the Eastern and Pacific time zones).