KIMBERLING CITY, Mo. – If you’ve ever really pondered the phrase “It was like herding cats,” you might understand the kind of day that EverStart Series Central Division anglers faced on Table Rock Lake.
This White River impoundment lacks not for both quality and quantity in its largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass populations. But with the fish on the verge of moving into fall patterns, what anglers found was all those fish scattered all over the lake’s 43,000-plus acres. Some were deep, some were shallow, and some were in between.
The word “consistent” was not often uttered today – at least not in the positive sense.
Arkansas pro Travis Fox, who placed 18th with three fish weighing 6 pounds and 4 ounces, lamented an arduous day that probably felt as much like detective work as it did fishing. Happy to at least have a trio of keepers, Fox said the difficulty came down to a great scattering of fish thanks to the fall transitional period.
“This is a great lake; there are more big fish in Table Rock than in (many other major lakes),” he said. “The problem is that there are a lot of suspended fish out there, and when they do that, they’re really hard to find.”
The Professional Division saw just seven limits – one of which belonged to Robbie Dodson of Harrison, Ark., who topped his fellow pros with a 15-pound sack. While certainly rewarding, Dodson said his day was nothing short of confounding.
“I caught fish really deep, and I caught fish really shallow,” he said. “I didn’t catch two in any one place. I just had to pick up the right rod at the right time. I only had seven bites all day.”
Dodson caught his fish on a Lucky Strike Series 3 squarebill and a 1/2-ounce Lucky Strike spinnerbait. He said he fished about 100 spots and quickly realized this was going to be a classic needle-in-a-haystack kind of deal.
“When I started trying to pick out a good spot, I didn’t catch anything for a long time,” he said. “When I just (randomly) went somewhere, I caught a fish. I was just covering a lot of water.
“It’s just a crazy bite. I fished here the last three or four days, and I had more bites today than I did in two of those days put together.”
Bites were spread throughout the day for Dodson, with two of his fish coming in the morning, one at midday and two in the last hour of his fishing time.
Jones goes shallow for second
“There’s a lot of suspended fish right now, and the water down here is very deep, so I made a long run to where they can’t suspend – I’m fishing shallow,” he said. “This prevented me from spending too much time just fishing deep water so I could concentrate on the shallow water.”
Jones worked a 6-inch Strike King jigging spoon over structure and fished shallow with a Storm Wigglewort. The spoon produced two of his fish – including his biggest – and the Wiggle Wart nabbed the other three.
Despite losses, Garrison takes third
One of the few to actually express enthusiasm over what he encountered today, Earl Garrison IV sacked up a limit of 12-10 and placed third, just 8 ounces behind Jones. In truth, Garrison was as enthused over what he didn’t weigh as he was over what he did.
“I missed two giants on topwater this morning,” he said. “I was fortunate enough to get one nice one on topwater, but then I jumped off a 3 1/2-pounder on a spinnerbait, and then I broke off another monster on a boat dock this afternoon. I really feel that I should have had 18 to 19 pounds today.”
Garrison caught two keepers on a shad-colored Super Spook Jr., two on a 1/2-ounce War Eagle Spot Remover spinnerbait and one on a 1/2-ounce War Eagle buzzbait.
Murphy spoons into fourth, Williams fifth
Tom Murphy of Richland, Mo., caught a limit that weighed 11 pounds, 5 ounces and took the fourth-place spot. A shaky head and a spinnerbait caught smaller bass today, but jigging spoons in 60-feet-plus did the trick for bigger fish on this difficult lake.
“Every fish I’ve caught has come on a spoon,” he said. “I’m fishing two spoons: a ¾-ounce Dixie Jet spoon and a War Eagle spoon. I’ve been practicing with a spoon for about a week here, and I won a tournament last week, and (all of the fish) came on a spoon.”
Coming in just 3 ounces behind Murphy, Lance Williams of Billings, Mo., placed fifth with 11-2.
Best of the rest
Rounding out the top 10 pro leaders at the EverStart Series Table Rock Lake event:
6th: Chris Hughes of Springfield, Mo., 10-6
7th: Shane Long of Sarcoxie, Mo., 9-8
8th: Doug Pietrzak of Cadiz, Ky., 9-2
9th: Scott Nelson of Lake Ozark, Mo., 8-7
10th: Mike Eutsler of Springfield, Mo., 8-4
10th: Rick Lapoint of Springfield, Mo., 8-4
Jason Weast won the Big Bass award for his 5-pound, 9-ounce largemouth.
Payne mixes it up for co-angler lead
Arnold Payne Jr. of Noblesville, Ind., caught three fish that weighed 6 pounds, 7 ounces to take the early lead by a 10-ounce margin. Payne caught his fish on a shaky head, a Carolina rig and a spinnerbait.
“I caught my fish on three different baits, so there wasn’t anything to it,” he said. “I just picked up a different one and threw it and tried another one out. I’m not on a certain bait. There’s no consistency.”
Payne said he caught his fish in 5 to 30 feet. His bites were spread throughout the day.
Best of the rest
Jimmy Lee of Carthage, Mo., placed second with 5-13, while Brett Haake of Joliet, Ill., took third with 5-10. In fourth place, Larry Creech of Columbia City, Ind., had 5-8 and Jacques Fleischmann of Lampe, Mo., was fifth at 5-7.
Rounding out the top 10 co-angler leaders at the EverStart Series Table Rock Lake event:
6th: Robert Nosbisch of Collinsville, Ill., 5-1
7th: Justin Layton of Forsyth, Mo., 4-8
8th: Gary Smih of Southwest City, Mo., 4-1
9th: Terry Hollowell of Anderson, Ind., 3-15
10th: Melvin McNeal of Circleville, Ohio, 3-12.
Melvin McNeal took the Big Bass award on the co-angler side with a 3-pound, 2-ounce fish.
Day two of EverStart Series Central Division action on Table Rock Lake continues at Friday’s takeoff, scheduled to take place at 7 a.m. Central the Port of Kimberling Marina located at 72 Marina Way in Kimberling City, Mo.