PAA Pros hopeful as Practice starts on Table Rock
Category: press release
Sep 3rd, 2013 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Sep 3rd, 2013 at 12:00 AM
If the truth be known, every pro and co-angler who has come to beautiful Branson this week harbors secret hopes of somehow pulling off the win. We talked to three PAA pros who have already won major events on Table Rock Lake. Stacey King won the Bass Pro Shops PAA Tournament Series here in June 2011. Shane Long won the PAA Tournament Series here in October 2010. Casey Scanlon won the Bassmaster Central Open here in April 2012. No doubt all three have come back to Branson hoping for another Table Rock win this week. Here’s what they have to share.
Stacey King”It’s going to be an exciting event. Table Rock is always a fun place to have a PAA tournament. Having the association with Bass Pro Shops and holding the final weigh-in near the fountain at Branson Landing at the Bass Pro Shops is always great fun. The PAA event I won here two years ago, there was a tremendous crowd, and it was great. There are always a lot of people at the weigh-in and it’s always a good time whenever the PAA visits Branson,” chuckles PAA pro Stacey King.
“This week’s event is probably going to be a lot tougher tournament than the one I won here in 2011 for several reasons. That was a post spawn tournament and the fishing was really good at that time. Right now, we’ve had a tremendous amount of hot weather here lately. All last week was in the mid-nineties. The weatherman’s calling for a little break this week. It’s expected to be a little cooler for our practice and tournament (highs “only” in the upper eighties), so that’ll help the anglers a little…but still the fishing has been pretty tough in general. You can catch fish quite a few different ways on the lake right now but catching five and getting the quality you want, now that’s probably going to be a real challenge,” speculates King who lives right near Table Rock Lake in Reeds Spring, Missouri.
“We had a lot of rain here a couple/three weeks ago and the lake came up real fast. It came up about four feet from where it was and there were a lot of fish that moved shallow and got up in the newly-flooded bushes but the Corps of Engineers (who manage the lake) pulled the lake level back down real fast too. They dropped it back down about four feet so that now it’s back down to just slightly above the normal power pool. A lot of those fish that had moved shallow have moved backed down again, and I think they are real scattered as a result. By “scattered” I mean there are some shallow fish, there are some deep fish, there are some fish starting to move back into the creeks going after the shad and they’re just kind of all over. That’s why I think it is going to be a challenge to try to figure out how to catch five quality fish each day.”
“If it was a normal situation for this time of year, I’d say most of the fish would be deep maybe with the exception of running up the river arms where you might catch some shallow…but with all the rain and all the water let out of the lake lately, it’s not the normal situation for this time of year here, and I just think they’ll be fish caught about any way anyone wants to fish for them during this event.”
“I don’t look for it to be a real heavy weight tournament, but I think if you catch a limit each day you’ll do fairly well in this event. If you can just get five 15-inch plus fish you’ll probably be doing pretty well.”
Shane LongThirty-eight year old Shane Long lives in Springfield, Missouri which is about an hour north of Table Rock. Long didn’t start tournament fishing until he was 21 or 22 although he did grow up crappie fishing out of an 18 foot aluminum boat, and Table Rock was one of the only three places he ever went. He practically grew up crappie fishing on this lake and its river arms and when he reached his twenties, Shane cut his teeth tournament fishing on Table Rock.
Long feels it’s been a weird year here weather-wise with an atypical cool springtime and just an awful lot of rain since July. “I’m thinking we got about 14-15 inches of rain in July which is unheard of around here. The lake had come up really, really high. There were a lot of fish that never went out deep and suspended the way that they normally do. There is no thermocline in the lake this year. That’s the big key – those fish typically suspend on that thermocline right now – and this year there is no thermocline. They’ve pulled too much water, we’ve had too much rain and there’s been too much water pulled through the dam in order for there to be a thermocline this year. That’s the main reason why the lake’s so markedly different to me right now – the fish are not suspended like they normally are. As a result, it’s definitely going to be a different Table Rock than what we’ve seen in the past.”
Despite how different he expects Table Rock to fish, Long still is looking at the weights to be on par for this time of year. “There are going to be a lot of fish caught shallow. There are going to be a lot of fish caught deep. I expect there are going to be a lot of keepers and I think there will be a lot of limits weighed in. I think 14 pounds a day is going to be really, really strong in this event. You may see an 18 or 20 pound sack but to back it up the next day would be difficult.”
“The river arms can produce a 20 pound stringer any day…actually any part of the lake can, but typically at this time of the year, the river arms are the spots with potential to produce that kind of sack. The problem is getting it to repeat day after day – that is really, really difficult to do. You’re just as liable to go back and catch nothing the second day after catching a big bag of fish the first day.”
The James River and Long Creek are the two closest river arms to where the PAA contenders are launching from early each morning at the State Park Marina near the dam.
“We’re taking off from the dam so you never know…there are still a few bushes in the water, and there are lots of good largemouth in this lake. It doesn’t bother them to live up underneath a bush right up on the bank. There’s definitely going to be a shallow bite first thing in the morning, so some contenders could find success up shallow in the river arms before the sun gets up.”
Also among the fish that are up shallow, Long tells us that there are a lot of big smallmouth biting shallow right now too. “If a guy finds the right stretch, the right thing to catch those bigger smallmouth, they can really be a factor in this event.” Yet Long feels it is going to take a mixed bag – largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass – to win this tournament. “The way it’s fishing, I don’t think you can win this event strictly on one species or another,” believes Shane.
Casey ScanlonWinner of the Bassmaster Central Open on Table Rock Lake in April 2012, PAA pro Casey Scanlon lives in Lenexa, Kansas about 3-1/2 hours from Table Rock. Scanlon has fished in quite a few tournaments here over the last ten years or so.
“Calendar-wide, it’s beginning to become autumn, so some of the deeper schools are probably starting to break up a little bit. The tournament’s going to be pretty much wide open. The fish are going to be kind of scattered. You’re going to see guys fishing anywhere from 1 foot to 50 feet deep. You’ll be able to throw anything from topwater to dropshot. It’s going to be one of those tournaments where you just kind of do what you like and go out there and fish hard and do your thing. I expect to see an average of about 14 to 15 lbs. a day will probably win this thing. You are going to see a couple of bigger bags maybe 1 or 2 days but that will be hard to repeat because the fish are going to be really scattered from one day to the next.”
Scanlon adds, “I look forward to a good tournament with a lot of numbers of fish, a lot of limits. You’ll be able to catch them on boat docks, off the bank, deep on points, ledges and that kind of thing. Brushpiles may come into play, so it is going to be very much wide open. A guy’s going to be able to pick his strength and go out there and do it on this lake. It should be fun, this should be a good tournament, but it’s going to be come down to whoever finds the quality fish. I think a guy that can weigh in an 18-19 pound bag one day and follow it up with a couple of 13 pound bags…he’s probably going to be your winner.”