BRANSON, Mo. – Watching how the country’s best bass pros pick a lake apart is one of the greatest benefits of bass tournaments.
After two days of the Walmart FLW Tour on Table Rock Lake, some common denominators are starting to surface as to how the top-10 pros out-distanced their competition this week.
Going into day three this morning, the top-10 pros were mostly concerned with obscuring a bass’ ability see their lures.
Kellogg’s pro Greg Bohannan, currently in ninth, has fished Ozark lakes all his life and has discovered that overcoming the water clarity on Table Rock is half the battle in getting bass to eat.
“These bass is this clear water are smart,” Bohannan explained. “When the sun is out and there is no wind and you can see the bottom in 10 feet, that’s a bad thing. If we can see that well, imagine how good a bass can see stuff under those conditions. So in order to take away a bass’ sight advantage this time of year you have to rely on bad weather, stained water, reaction baits or some combination of all three – and that’s what you see here this morning – these guys have all figured that out.”
On day one of this event, dense clouds and wind muffled the water clarity thereby taking away a bass’ ability to distinguish lures and it showed in the catch rates. On day two, however, the sun popped out, the wind died and the bass got smarter about their diet, consequently the catch rates fell off.
Over half the top 10 is fishing up the James River where the water has some color to it.
“All these river and creek arms have plenty of fish in them,” Bohannan continued. “But the James River has a slight tint to it and that helps disguise lures little better.”
The James offers a variety of water colors to help match sky conditions and that’s how BP pro Shin Fukae is approaching each tournament day.
“If it’s cloudy – low light, I fish the clearer water,” Fukae said. “But if it gets sunny, I go up to muddy water.”
In addition, matching lures to the sky and water conditions is critical. A cursory survey of the top-10 pros’ lures revealed that crankbaits, jerkbaits and jigs were the main players.
Bohannan had deck full of crankbaits that included Wiggle Warts and Shad Raps.
Chevy pro Anthony Gagliardi and National Guard pro Brent Ehrler had jerkbaits in the mix and both said that jerkbaits were better for them on day two.
Top-10 pro Dan Morehead also noted that a jerkbait figured heavily into his 19-pound, 3-ounce catch yesterday.
Folgers pro Scott Suggs is relying on a ¾-ounce jig made by co-angler Frank Divis. Divis, who is fishing in the top-10 as co-angler, is renowned for his jig knowledge on Ozark lakes.
“I’m fishing it a little differently than I normally would fish a jig,” Suggs said. “Instead of creeping it along slowly so the fish can get look at it, I’m making the fish react to it.”
From the looks of the forecast on day three, pros are going to get weather back on their side for fooling bass. Temperatures will be in the 50’s with heavy clouds and a chance of rain.
“What most people would call bad fishing weather is good fishing weather in the Ozarks,” Bohannan added. “The heavy clouds simply allow you to extend the range of your fishable water and lures because the fish can’t see as well.”
The day-three weigh-in will begin Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Branson Convention Center located at 200 W. Main St in Branson. FLW Outdoors will host a free Family Fun Zone and outdoor show at the Branson Convention Center starting at noon.
The Family Fun Zone offers fans a chance to meet their Fantasy Fishing team anglers face-to-face and review the latest products from Berkley, Lowrance, Ranger, Evinrude, Yamaha and other sponsors while children are treated to giveaways, fishing themed games and rides like the Ranger Boat simulator.
Sunrise: 7:25 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 38 degrees
Expected high temperature: 53 degrees
Water temperature: 42-48 degrees
Wind: NE 5 to 10 mph
Day’s outlook: 30% chance of rain