BRANSON, Mo. — Fishing was tough enough before Mother Nature threw a curve for the opening pitch of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open at Table Rock Lake.
A prolonged Indian summer has kept bass in a holding pattern for weeks at Table Rock, and the first major cold front of autumn hit this week to put the fish into more of a fall funk. Despite the tough conditions, Harrison, Ark., angler Robbie Dodson Jr. relied on his experience at Table Rock Lake to amass a five-fish limit weighing 15 pounds, 9 ounces. He holds a pound and a half lead in the third and final Central Open.
“I didn’t even practice the way the weather was this week,” said Dodson, who won a major tournament on the huge White River impoundment two weeks ago. “I thought I would be better off not to know really what was going on since it was probably going to change with this front coming through. I fish here enough to know pretty well what to start off on. So I just started off doing what I thought I should do.”
However, what he thought would work didn’t and he was forced to scramble.
“There is nothing really working out there,” he said. “It was a real tough bite. We struggled all day. I just ran around and fished everywhere I thought I had caught a fish before and hopefully run into a little wad of them.
“I had two bites by noon and caught a 4-11 and another one on a Rick Clunn Trickster spinnerbait. I then pulled into one pocket this afternoon and caught four in about four throws and my partner caught one and that was the last bites we had all day.”
Bassmaster Elite Series pro James Niggemeyer of Van, Texas, figured out a pattern for a 14-3 limit that moved him into second place.
“I am moving around quite a bit,” he said. “I basically caught all of my fish on two lures anywhere from 5 feet all the way out to 25. There is a bit of a pattern there but my big fish (a 5-12 largemouth he added to the mix) was a blessing. I had two or three keepers right from the get-go and then bounced around and caught fish throughout the day.”
Elite pro Clark Reehm went “junk fishing” and bagged a 12-9 limit good for third place.
“I ended up getting a gift fish,” said the Lufkin, Texas angler. “I was reeling one in on a crankbait when I looked down and saw a smallie with it. My partner reached down with the net and the smallie grabbed the crankbait and I got both fish.”
Rounding out the top five in the boater division are two other Elite pros, Brian Snowden of Reeds Spring, Mo., in fourth with 12-8 and Stephen Browning, Hot Springs, Ark., in fifth with 11-13.
Mission, Kan., angler Mike Perry scratched out two fish weighing 5-9 to lead the co-angler division. The other top five co-anglers are Jon Englund of Farwell, Minn., and Jim Furr of Hemphill, Texas, both with 4-8; Michael Savage of Clever, Mo., 4-7; and Clayton Coppin of Wagoner, Okla., 4-4.
This event hosted by the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau was originally slated for April but was postponed due to dangerously high water levels at Table Rock.
Tomorrow’s launch, weigh-in and the final-day launch will be held at the Table Rock State Park Marina, 380 State Park Marina, Branson, Mo. The Day Three weigh-in will move to the Branson Landing water fountains next to Bass Pro Shops in Branson, near 1 Bass Pro Drive.