KVD Says Table Rock Sets Up for Shallow Spinnerbaiting

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

KVD Says Table Rock Sets Up for Shallow Spinnerbaiting

By Pete Robbins

Table Rock has long been one of Kevin VanDam’s favorite stops on tour, and there’s nothing he loves to do more than power fish, so this year’s Big Bass Tour event on the gorgeous Ozarks reservoir promises to be right up his alley. When the competitors launch between April 5th and 7th, the big girls should be snapping, possibly in water that barely covers their backs.

“After the conditions we’ve had this year, with all of this rain, the water should have a lot of color in it,” he said. “That means we have good conditions to put the big fish up shallow.”

His mind lit up with the idea of chasing Table Rock’s biggest fish with “a big spinnerbait, big squarebills, jigs and creature baits.” A spinnerbait, the lure that originally made him famous, would be his top starting point. “I’d use a ¾ ounce Strike King spinnerbait in white or white and chartreuse,” he said. “It would be a Colorado/willow, but I’d change the willow out for a big number seven and put on a seven and a half inch ribbon tail worm as a trailer. Then I’d slow roll it around the bank for big females that are staging.”

A crankbait would be his second choice, typically either a KVD 2.5 or 4.0, depending on the size of the forage and the aggressiveness of the bass. If the water is especially dirty, he’d utilize chartreuse with a black back, but noted that “normally I like a bluegill pattern this time of year. They’re really focused on bluegills in the spring.”

Because he’d just be fishing for one big bite, VanDam would vary his speeds, fishing fast in between high percentage targets and then hitting the pause button when he gets to the juice. He’d focus on the creeks rather than the main lake and look for transition banks – for example, places where chunk rock transitions to gravel, or ledge rock transitions to chunk rock. If those areas have standing timber nearby, he’d consider that an added bonus.

The one monkey wrench that might ensue is if heavy rain leading into the event puts the water up into the bushes. “That changes everything,” he explained. “They really move up into those willows and buck bushes fast. When that happens, if I’m trying to target big fish I’d pitch a big jig with a full-sized creature bait for a trailer – something like a big Rage Bug or a Rage Lobster.”

Historically VanDam has spent lots of time in the middle portion of Table Rock, where a healthy population of bigger-than-average bass resides, but if the water is high and especially if it’s dirty, he’d look closer to the dam.

“The fish down there live deep most of the time,” he said. “Those conditions put them shallow.”

Indeed, he said that Table Rock is one of the most “condition-specific” lakes on tour, and accordingly he’s always ready to change at a moment’s notice to account for weather changes or fishing pressure.

That ability to change will be especially critical in this event, as will a substantial dose of strategy. Unlike events in Florida or Texas, Table Rock produces few 8-, 9- or 10-pounders, but huge numbers of 4- to 7-pound bass. It’s rare in a springtime BBT event that anything less than 4 ½ pounds takes hourly top honors, and we’ve never had a fish under 5 pounds crack the overall top ten. Six- and 7-pounders get paid consistently, because they’re comparatively rare, but an angler with a 5-pounder in the well – particularly if he or she has a long run to make – must carefully monitor the Live Leaderboard and employ some discretion in whether to weigh in a fish promptly.