Transition. It’s the word of the week here at the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens Championship.
Transition obviously means change. There is much of that going on at Table Rock Lake. This time last week daytime highs were in the 80s and water temperatures were in the upper 70s. This week: Water temps in the upper 60s and daytime highs in the low 60s. Even though it’s mid-October, autumn is just now coming to the Missouri Ozarks.
By now, the annual fall transition would be in full swing, maybe even nearing its completion. On Table Rock, that means bass suspended between depths of 35 feet and 45 feet move from the main lake into the creeks, where they feed upon roaming baitfish. That transition is just now occurring. The fish are somewhere between the suspended depths of their summertime pattern and the shallower water feeding areas. That also makes them a challenge to pattern.
“Fish are moving every day and they are getting more active,” said Frank Talley, who qualified for the Championship from the Central Opens. “The downside is staying on a dependable school of fish. They are here today, gone tomorrow.”
The Texan continued, “If you find a school you’d better hammer them, do whatever you can to catch them. There is no conservative fishing here this week, at least for me.”
Talley disclosed his fish are somewhere between the mid-depth range and the shoreline.
Compounding the issue is today’s weather. Near calm wind conditions and sunny skies put the damper on the topwater bite many anglers were counting on. The good news for them is tomorrow they get their wish, albeit in an unwelcome way. Tomorrow’s forecast calls for a steady rain with a high in the low 50s. Great for topwater, miserable fishing.
“The lack of wind and high, sunny skies really shut down a topwater bite on these clear Ozark lakes,” observed Derek Hudnall, the Louisiana qualifier from the Central Opens. “These fish are ultra-spooky and it takes fooling them to catch them on topwaters.”
He continued, “The wind breaks up the continuity of the lure and the surface to get the fish active, otherwise the fish are too spooky for topwater.”
And last but certainly not least is the 15-inch minimum size limit for largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass.
“There are a lot of 14 to 15 inch keepers in this lake,” said Patrick Walters. “So lots of 11- to 12-pound limits will get caught. It’ll take at least a good four-pounder to put you over the top, keep you in the game.”