Breeden Says Big and Small Baits Alike Will Play At Table Rock

Published on 04-05-2023

By Pete Robbins
Table Rock Lake, the gem of the Ozarks region, is a staple on the Big Bass Tour. When anglers head there for three days of competition from April 14 to 16, they’ll have lots of history to work with, but it’ll tell conflicting stories. Some years, a 6-pounder is enough to take the top prize, while in other events it barely competes. Last year, the winning fish pushed the scales to 8.02 pounds. In 2019, the overall winner weighed a pound more than that.
That means no lead is safe, and anglers need to pay attention to both hourly and overall standings to maximize their chances of maximizing prizes.
Missouri pro Cole Breeden said that there are multiple ways to tempt and land a true Table Rock giant this time of year, and a lot depends on water levels and weather patterns.
“Two years ago, we had two BFLs two weekends in a row won bed fishing,” he recalled. “But last year I won a BFL at that same time with 20 pounds – including a 5 pounder – fishing out under bait. I was in 30 feet of water but the shad and the bass were suspended in 15. There are so many fish at Table Rock. They get all over the place, but those 3 to 4 pound and bigger fish tend to stage in about the 15 foot range, usually three-quarters of the way back into creeks.”
One lure that never leaves the deck of his boat this time of year is a green pumpkin jig. Looking in those same areas, close to the spawning grounds, he’ll catch a mix of largemouths and smallmouths from brush and docks, “just dragging it.”
When the bass are clearly suspended around those same docks, he likes to wacky rig a 5-inch Berkley Maxscent General.
“It’s a really good lure for Table Rock, because it sinks quicker than most lures in its class,” he explained. “When the bass are 15 or more feet down you don’t want to have to wait.”
While he believes that quality specimens of all three species of bass live throughout the lake, he’d focus on the middle section of the lake, where there’s a few feet of clarity, but not enough to make the bass spooky. That’s his personal preference, and he noted that many “7 pounders and other big ones are caught by guys who go up the rivers, or even up Long Creek.” The reason he likes the middle section when chasing giants is because it allows him to throw oversized glide baits.
“They’re moving shallow at this time of year and we’re seeing more and more big fish weighed in on those glide baits,” he said. “Choose shad patterns – that’s definitely what they eat in Table Rock. I like that little bit of stain in the water because they can’t see it quite as well. You won’t have as many of them turn away at the last second.”
No matter which section of the lake anglers choose to fish, which species they target, and how they try to tempt them, Table Rock is one of the most fertile fisheries in the country and the live leaderboard will be critical to masterminding hourly prizes.