Posted by Phil Lilley on February 17th, 2017
Slothman started a very interesting topic on CHIRP and I’m going to carry it on a little here, and I want to preface this by saying Table Rock Lake as it is what I know the best but am still learning on every trip to the lake.
With the various types of underwater eyes we now have as far as some of the best freshwater electronics that have ever been invented by a multitude of companies how are they helping us. From scan to sonar just what are they doing for us?
Table Rock and the White River Chain of lakes are for the most part ruled more by seasonal patterns, water depth and movement than they are by structure. How many of us thru either side scan or just our sonar mark places that look good, but don’t have fish on them. I will bet everyone reading this piece.
I have over 1,500 gps marks on my card with the majority of them not being structure, but there are plenty that are. Do they hold fish? Sometimes but most often not. Structure on Table Rock is like a Hotel or a Bed and Breakfast. The fish may visit, but they don’t live there. They may stay a while and new guests from time to time check in, but most including the largemouth are on extended travel holiday. Most should own a 5th. wheel, cause they are on the road 90% of the time. Why? I will tell you at times I know and at times I don’t know. Here is the place that Bo could jump in and help as he is one of our posters that is perhaps more in tune with seasonal patterns and the movement of fish than the majority of us.
What is puzzling is most of the time the fish are moving just to be moving. There is adequate forage all over the lake and for sure enough forage to sustain them where they are, but they pack there sunscreen and head off to another location on the pond. That’s why when folks ask, I say they live in the water, not by this or that structure. Table Rock fish are perfectly happy to suspend at depth and not relate to any structure whatsoever.
Does water temperature influence migration? Yes and no. there are fish everywhere in the lake and I have had a many of trip that looking for warmer water in the early season is the wrong thing to do. Sometimes 45 degree water has more bites than 53 degree water. Warmer water at times make fish rise in the water column, or become more active. It puts some gas in the tank and make them move. Is this good? Sometimes. at other times it turns concentrations of fish into single targets of harder to hit moving fish.
The only pattern that really holds on the Rock is a deep Winter and a Deep Summer pattern. Winter fish love 50′ and they love it in deep vertical cuts or channel swings. Summer fish love the thermocline. Best depth for the last 30 yrs. has been 26′ What does this have to do with structure. Just about nothing. Most of these fish hold on zero structure. At times they will relate to deep trees but most often they will not be so much in the tree as above it or just within 30 or 40 feet of it. Really, most often they will relate to runoffs and sharp drops or they will relate and suspend near changes in the bottom or transitions.
A good example is I took a BFL angler out last year for a day prior to his tournament. We found a huge concentrations of K’s on the bottom on a channel swing inside flat. I mean a huge concentration. We could have jerked them on a spoon or a drop shot and still been jerking. It was post spawn and every fish in the area was congregated and getting to know each other. He went back the next day and the flat was empty. Said it looked like a pool table top. After he left I took my client out there and found them in 2 minutes. They had moved from 22′ on the bottom out to 22′ suspended over 90′ in the middle of the channel. No structure, just setting out there enjoying their day. That’s Table Rock.
Another point of Table Rock is fish love flat pea size gravel, with absolutely no structure or cover. It looks like the Serengeti down there but there are hunters that roam it, almost every month of the year. Mostly SM. When either the Conservation Department or fishermen add structure the fish leave. It is far from, “If you build it they will come.” Don’t work that way on Table Rock. Some of my best locations for both SM and K’s have been totally ruined by adding structure. The bass just leave and don’t come back.
There is already plenty of structure in Table Rock that the bass very seldom if ever relate to, adding more is really not the answer, and adding it to locations that have none and trying to attract bass most usually has the opposite effect. As I said there is a bait or food form most everywhere and there is bait around existing structure and there bass are not there, either.
I guess this is a long winded version of saying buy and learn to use your electronics as you see best, but just because you have 1,500 way points does not mean you know where the fish are or when they will be there.
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