I went to Table Rock Lake Sept 19 – 22 for the KBF Central Region Final Tournament. I planned to prefish on Thursday and Friday.
These were near perfect days. There was hardly a breeze, even on the main lake. You could paddle pretty much anywhere. I took the opportunity to try out the drop shotting technique I had heard so much about.
In the summer, water temps at Table Rock can reach into the 90s. The drop shot technique entails finding trees in 50 or more feet of water. You want the tops of those trees to reach up to about 20 to 25 feet. Using your sonar, you look for small dots that are hanging around near those treetops. These are the fish.
Once you find them, you take a drop shot rig and thread on a small worm or soft plastic shad imitation. Then, you drop it vertically to the tops of those trees. Hop the lure up and down a few times and you should be able to bring them up.
So, I ventured out excitedly and found a spot that fit the bill. I found trees that were in 40 to 60 feet of water. The tops of those trees were at about 20 to 25 feet.
I dropped a Dimiki stinger with a 1/8 ounce drop shot weight. This is a 3 inch soft plastic stick worm style bait. I was using a shad pattern with silver flakes in it.
Within minutes I had my first fish. It was a nice spotted bass. So, I set a waypoint and moved on.
I was sitting on the north side of the main lake channel, and I knew that once the wind picked up, it would come from the South.
This would make fishing these types of areas from a paddle kayak difficult. Regardless, I stayed in the area and caught a couple of small largemouth bass.
The next day, I tried a new location. I checked out a place called Virgin Bluff near Cape Fair, MO.
There is a horseshoe bend in the James river here,. Where the bend is on the south side and the two arms go north. I thought this would be a great place to find shelter from the south winds that were coming.
I found plenty of submerged timber along the bluff. There was very deep water near the bluff, but as you got closer you could find some shelves in 50 to 30 feet of water. There I tried the drop shot technique and pulled up a couple of small largemouth bass.
Then I moved over to an island that sits in the middle of the horseshoe. Here the shoreline sloped much more gradually. Underwater you could find sloping 45 degree rocky bottom that extended out to the channel.
This looked like a promising place. I saw schools of small 1 inch shad. I also noticed something feeding on them. Unfortunately, they were gar.
I fished this area for a while. I tired jigs, swimbaits, cranks. Unfortunately, nothing hit for the rest of that day. I headed back in with a light breeze behind me.
Friday morning I was up early for another prefishing day. I went to a new spot that had similar features. It started off with a south shoreline. After a short paddle up the James river, you ended up at another curving bluff wall.
Here I discovered a problem. Since the bluff wall was curving, the protection it afforded from the wind was limited. This was because it seems that wind is funneled through it. Even though the primary wind direction was south southwest, the wind would curve around the bluff and find me.
As a contingency plan, I checked out a place called Big Bay Public Use Area. I liked this location because it would allow for a short 30 minute drive from where I was staying. When I got to Big Bay, I found a protected cove that I felt would have good wind protection from southerly winds.
The prefishing deadline was 5pm Friday. So, as quickly as it arrived, prefishing was over. I felt like it was too short and I hadn’t scoped out enough locations.
On Saturday morning I saw that the wind was already lightly blowing at 5:00am. First launch was at 6, so I decided to head for Big Bay. There I knew I could find protection from the wind that would last all day.
When I got to the ramp, I found about 4 other kayaks launching and I joined in. Everyone was very nice and we helped each other out whenever necessary.
After launching at 6:00am, I headed out east to find a starting spot. I got to a small secondary point and waited for the 6:30 start.
I was in about 30 feet of water and planned on casting up towards the shore. I had a topwater lure tied on along with a crankbait and a drop shot rig.
At 6:30am, I started off throwing a whopper plopper to see if I could get a hit. Nothing.
This was a disappointment. I kept hearing blow ups on the surface. But, they were either ignoring my offerings, or not bass.
Suddenly, as I passed over an area that went from 20 to 60 feet deep, I saw a tree in my depth finder that was reaching up into the 15 to 20 foot zone. I thought it was a perfect place to try the drop shot.
I dropped the soft plastic shad imitator down and gave it some shakes. I made several passes over the tree doing this. The same technique I had used before successfully.
Unfortunately, this time it didn’t work.
As the morning progressed, I paddled into a small cove with a couple of boat docks in it. There is a shelf here that runs for about 50 yards out and is only 15 feet deep at its deepest.
I threw a crankbait and a jig with a craw trailer. Here I ran into a largemouth and a couple of smallies. Unfortunately, they were all under the 12 inch requirement.
It was around 9am and time was flying by. So, I decided that I had to move. I had 2 options. One, go back to the ramp and drive to a new location. Two, paddle out and cross the main lake to the other side where there is an island.
I opted to cross the main lake channel and check out the island across the way. Of course, I met a stiff southerly wind here. This made the crossing difficult. It took me about 15 minutes to get across.
Once I go to the island, I found rocky shorelines that had undercut ledges. There were also some coves that were shallower with flooded timber.
I started out with a crankbait along the shoreline and into one of the larger coves. I had no luck bumping off trees. I exited the cove and found myself drifting up the shore with the breeze.
Here, there was a rock ledge that stuck out. It was about 4 or 5 feet underwater. I thought to myself that running a crankbait under this ledge would present a great target for bass waiting in ambush.
After a few casts with no joy, I made a cast at the ledge where it seemed to stick out more than usual. I made sure to cast past this point so that the lure would get to the proper depth.
Then, I saw a flash and the rod loaded.
I was on and I knew it wasn’t an 11 inch fish this time. After a pleasant fight I got the fish to the net and landed a nice 16 inch largemouth.
I was very happy about this. I thought that it would be the beginning of a pattern. Find outcropping in the ledge and drag a crankbait by. Boom, hundreds of bass would rush out and smack it.
Alas it was not to be. I scoured the rocky outcroppings,but I didn’t get another hit.
Over the remainder of the day, I tried a couple of calm coves. I also had to give myself time to return to the ramp in a cross wind.
When I got back to the protected bay, I tried some more shorelines. Soon it was 2:30pm. Lines out.
We had to check in at the Indian Point Marina by 4PM. From where I was, it was about an hour drive. Not fun. I arrived at Indian Point, signed the sign in sheet and had a brief conversation.
Afterwards I realized I was starving and looked up the nearest BBQ place. In the parking lot, I noticed a few yaks from the tourney were there. It was nice to sit with some fellow anglers and exchange stories.
Planning for day two I thought that I needed to change spots and I opted for a launch at Cape Fair.
This was closer to some of the spots I had fished in prefishing. It’s also further up the James river. Here, the water is a bit dingier. This would hopefully make it easier to get some strikes.
On Sunday morning, I launched at 6am and immediately headed south.
I knew that the wind would pick up and we would potentially see some storms. The south wind was already blowing and I wanted to have it at my back when it was time to paddle back.
I paddled into Bearden Hollow and worked my way up the cove.
I found a shoreline that went down to three feet and then sloped to about 15 feet. Here, I caught a 12.25 inch spotted bass.
It darted out from the base of a tree and grabbed my mid depth crankbait.
Overall, things were looking quite slow. I was working west on the north shoreline of Bearden Hollow. There were some promising looking rocks and sloping bottoms, but I only managed hits from a couple of bass in the 8 to 11 inch range.
I tried jigs, with colors similar to the crayfish parts I had seen spit up by bass. I also tried Senkos, topwater and swimbaits.
At around 11am the wind really picked up. Storms were approaching. I decided to head closer to the ramp.
I was hit by tailwinds that pushed me in excess of 4mph. I had to use my paddles as brakes to keep from going sideways to the waves.
As the wind subsided, I tried some areas closer to the ramp. Unfortunately it was not to be. A 12.25 inch fish would be all I would mark for the day.
I straggled back to Indian Point Marina for the awards ceremony. It was nice to see everyone and have some good conversations. The Mo-Yak guys provided a nice nacho bar.
In the end it was a disappointment for me.There were many things I could have done differently.
Included in these are the following: 1. Find cooler water. 2. Be patient. If I don’t catch them early, I fish in a rushed manner. This is a mistake. I need to learn to relax and try and capture that “I already have a limit” feeling.
Overall, I’m glad I went and I can say for myself: “I’ll be back.”
Congrats to Troy Enke. If you want to read his story, you can find it here: https://moyak.club/mo-state-championship-winners-recap/