I fished the Missouri BASS State National Qualifier on May 4th put on by Webb Outdoors out of Moonshine Beach this past weekend. To put it bluntly fishing was great. Caught 15-30 keepers a day, easily. My normal partner Justin Luetkemeyer wasn't able to make it so I fished will a different guy on the Mizzou team.
May 2nd we put in at state park and ran around to areas that I have had success in the past. Fished from about 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The day was shortened because my partners boat needed a new primer bulb so we had a boat repair to do and decided it would be better to do it in the day light. We found fish schooling as soon as we got on the water and headed off to a place I know the schoolers usually come up well. Had 5 keepers in about 5 minutes of fishing on top and proceeded to catch those schoolers for probably 15 or 20 minutes. Some nice spots in the 2.5 lb range and one good smallie that weighed just under 3; all those fish bit a spook but the bigger smallie came on a small bull shad which is in the picture. We fished mixed rock banks with 2.8 and 3.3 inch keitechs the rest of the day and put together a bag that was 15 lbs with 3 smallmouth and 2 largemouth. All of those fish weighed between 2.9 and 3.1 lbs. Scattered timber helped that bite but not a forest. Cedar trees better than pole timber. Caught a few on a jerk bait and ned rig as well, but small swimbait was the best, sexy shad color.
May 3rd we put in at state park again and fished down to about the Kimberling city bridge. The same smallmouth bite was predominant. We actually got on one bank where I caught 3 smallmouth in about 20 yards that were all 2.75 to 3.2 lbs, all on the keitech. We tried to chase largemouth and I was able to catch a nice fish that was almost 4 lbs in the back of a pocket with run off on a weightless fluke. I threw everything but the kitchen sink at them and they would not fire on anything. They would follow and not bite anything that looked like a bait fish but just wouldn't eat it. In the backs of pockets if you threw a shakey head or ned rig, right down the middle of the cut, you couldn't keep the spots off your line. They weren't any good for a tournament but were very fun to catch. We ended up with 15ish lbs again thanks to that bigger largemouth.
May 4th we put in at Moonshine beach, that was an adventure with all of the high schoolers but it didn't bother me too much. The line just moved a little slower. Started on our spot with the good schooling fish and caught a limit including a nice smallie which went 2.8. Fished the back of a pocket and caught a largemouth that I never weighed but would guess was about 3 lbs. Good start we thought! We figured if we could catch 15 lbs again we would have a good chance of cashing a check if not winning. Got in my head too much, I think, and chased largemouth too much and didn't trust my smallmouth spots enough. Caught a bunch of keeper spots and a largemouth that went 2.27 lbs in the backs. finally committed to smallmouth and culled up a couple times but only by like 0.10 lbs. Boats everywhere! Thought I was fishing the Big Bass Bash. Looking back on it, I wish I had fished the 3 best spots I had in the dam area and then ran to new water down past Kimberling City to try to get away from the boats. Hind sight is always 20/20 though. The lake is fishing amazing though. We caught an insane number of fish. Other patterns that worked which I heard from guys on the team were a watermelon red flake shakey head on bluff banks with scattered timber (they found this pattern trying to get away from the fishing pressure) and a jerk bait, chatter bait, and spinner bait in the backs of pockets with a lot of run off which had shad.
I love table rock so much and I hope I can get down there again before my summer work starts in STL and my hometown of Bowling Green. The topwater bite is just getting started and should only keep getting better. Mike Webb is a great guy for putting on this event and I can't thank him and Sherry enough for putting it on. Also, Thanks to Wilkerson & Reynolds Wealth Management down at Osage Bluff for our awesome new jerseys. Tight lines everyone!