Good things come to those that wait — a fitting summary for the opening round of competition at the Costa FLW Series Central Division event presented by Lowrance, as a cold morning saw a mostly slow start for the division opener. With air temperatures in the upper 30’s, the 6:30 a.m. takeoff at Table Rock State Park Marina was cloudy and chilly, but the day is warming and clearing up nicely.
Better weather will bode well for afternoon efforts, as the fish will respond to the warming water. We spent some time early with local pro Jason Newberry, who says his better practice catches came midday. He had a small limit by 8:30 a.m. today and says he caught them all on an Alabama rig.
Table Rock has lost its usual crystal clear complexion. February-March saw heavy rains push the lake as high as 919 feet — four above normal pool. The water’s down to 915 now, but significant stain remains in most of the lake. This actually might help the shallow bite, as stained water warms more quickly and the decreased visibility makes fish more relaxed.
Most anglers were taking advantage of these favorable shallow conditions with a variety of reaction baits and pitching techniques. The traditional Ozark cranking pattern is greatly hindered by an abundance of stringy, green algae that mars baits and impedes presentations.
Shawn Perrigo caught one nice smallmouth on a jig to get on the board early. Down the lake, Matt Lee finessed his way into a 3-pound largemouth pretty quickly. Andy Morgan (yeah, that Andy Morgan) reports two small keepers. Matthew Kiefer had three keepers early. Co-angler Rob Crane was on the board with a 3-pounder. David Sicheneder is off to a good start with a pair of 4-pounders he caught on a jerkbait. Eric Olliverson had one in the box when we rolled up on him. Jeremy Lawyer says he's got three for about 7 pounds.
Off to a pretty strong start, Hensley Powell is doing work with about 16 pounds in the boat. Graden Hansen has four that'll go about 11 pounds. Matt Ells and Joe Weiberg each have a limit for around 12 pounds.
Around 10:45, we found Stetson Blaylock working on a bedding bass next to a dock in the back of a creek. The stained water, plus the windy conditions, made it tough to truly sight-fish, so Blaylock decided to just “fish” for the estimated 4-pounder with a natural colored Texas-rigged plastic. The bedding bass was playing hard to get and Blaylock surmises the cold weather was preventing the fish from locking down. Nonetheless, Blaylock did manage to hook it the third time it bit, but lost it on the way to the net. Perhaps he’ll get another shot at it before weigh-in.
Dates: April 19-21
Format: All boaters and co-anglers will compete for two days. The top 10 boaters and co-anglers based on cumulative weight after two days of competition will advance to the third and final round, with the winner in each category determined by the heaviest cumulative three-day weight.
Takeoff Time: 6:30 a.m. CT
Takeoff Location: Table Rock State Park Marina, 380 State Park Marina Road (Highway 165), Branson, MO
Weigh-in: Days 1 and 2: 2:30 p.m. CT
Weigh-In Location: Days 1 and 2 at Table Rock State Park Marina
Weigh-in Time: Day 3: 3:30 p.m. CT
Weigh-In Location: Day 3: Branson Landing,100 Branson Landing, Branson, MO