Jackson is stone wall at The Rock

BRANSON, Mo. -- The unusually stained waters of Table Rock Lake gave Benjamin Jackson a chance to fish like he does back home -- and the Oklahoma angler made the most of his opportunity today at the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open.

A recent algae bloom has turned Table Rock’s clear waters to a brownish color, which Jackson usually fishes at home on Grand Lake.

“It is like Grand Lake East now except there are bigger fish over here,” said Jackson, who amassed a five-fish limit weighing 20 pounds, 5 ounces to set the pace in the pro division. Catching big fish in practice got Jackson fired up for this event.  

“I caught about an 8 1/2-pounder on my third cast Monday morning and I have been catching them ever since,” he said. “I have been ready to go since about noon on Monday. I had tremendous anxiety.”

The Monkey Island, Okla., pro caught both shallow and deep fish today.  

“I am just covering a ton of water,” he said.  “That is the key to it because the fish are so scattered out. I can catch one here and one there and then it is three hours without a bite. I probably caught only seven or eight keepers but it was just a tremendous grind.  I caught my big one (a 6-pounder) on the last cast I made. ”

The biggest bass of the day was weighed in by Cypress, Texas pro James Kiser, who had a 6-15 largemouth. The fish bolstered his 19-10 limit of largemouth that helped him move into second place.

“I stayed focused on largemouth all through practice and that is what I am going to key on in the tournament,” said Kiser, who said his fish are relating to rocks and wood along steep bluff banks.  “I found these fish Sunday and went back and checked them Tuesday in two different places in a creek and they were still there today.”

He caught a limit from his primary area in the morning and then ran to four other spots and landed his big fish at around 1 p.m. Rounding out the top five in the pro division were Justin Hurd, Bartlesville, Okla., and Brady Winans, Greenville, Texas, tied for third place with 19-2; and Gary Klein, Weatherford, Texas, fifth, 18-8.

Retired utility company employee Roger Hackman relied on his experience at Table Rock to move into first in the non-boater division with three fish weighing 10-9.  The Harrison, Ark., angler has fished numerous tournaments on Table Rock throughout the years, including five Bassmaster Invitationals in the 1990s.  

“I had my limit by 9:30 and culled one fish about 10 o’clock,” said Hackman, who caught all of his fish on a crankbait.  “Then I backed off because we were on my pro’s waters.”   

The other top five non-boaters included David Bourque, Gonzales, La., in second place with 9-15; Lonnie Miller, Broken Arrow, Okla., third, 9-12; Matthew Goddard, Russellville, Ark., fourth, 9-10; and Rick Emmitt, Nixa, Mo., fifth, 9-1.

Hosting this event is the Branson/Lakes Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (www.ExploreBranson.com).  Tomorrow’s launch, weigh-in and the final day launch will be held at the Table Rock State Park Marina, 380 State Park Marina Drive.  The final day weigh-in will shift to the Branson Landing water fountains next to Bass Pro Shops at 1 Bass Pro Drive.