Why Go to Wappapello?
winter water levels knocked the plants out and kept them from coming back. He’s hopeful the new planting effort will be successful.
As part of the effort, Bassmaster members have been loading pots of lily pads, spatterdock and other varieties of vegetation into their boats and planting them in places where those plants have grown in the past.
“We’re trying to put some cover on these mud flats,” said Roger Robinson, president of the Lake Wappapello Bassmasters.
Robinson has been fishing the lake since 1954. He remembers when vegetation covered about 20 percent of the lake.
“We still have a lot of bass here,” Robinson said, “just not as many of the larger fish as before. Where they used to catch 6- and 7-pounders, now they’re catching more pound-and-a-halfers.”
According to Robinson, the numbers must be good because bass tournament anglers weigh in more fish at Wappapello than at other lakes on the circuit.
In fact, the large amount of tournament and recreational bass fishing pressure on the lake has caused bass anglers to change tactics. They can’t rely on the big, bulky baits that attract bass on other lakes.
“We use a lot of small jigs and finesse worms,” Robinson said.
One of Robinson’s favorite baits is an artificial centipede on fluorocarbon line with a 3/16-ounce weight. He said that anglers fishing any kind of “rubber” usually choose crawdad colors.
He said lots of anglers throw shad-colored Rattletraps or Bandits, which are small, square-billed crankbaits, and crank them in fast.
“Those school bass get after them pretty good,” he said.
Robinson explained that the key to finding bass depends on the time of year. In winter and early spring, the bass usually are holding together near points. Later, they’ll spread out and start looking for beds in shallower water.
“After they bed, they’ll come back to what we call their summer haunts,” he said. “That means deeper water.”
“Deep” at Wappapello usually means down to about 15 feet. Robinson said he looks for places where 3- to 4-foot-deep mud flats drop down to a 15-foot-deep river channel.
“By and large, during the summer,” he said, “you’re fishing for bass that are sitting on those river channels.”
Wappapello also offers good opportunities for bluegill and other sunfish. A group of anglers who regularly visit the lake eschew all other species so they can chew on tasty bluegill.
The willingness of Wappapello’s white bass to hit small shad-colored crankbaits thrills most anglers, but frustrates serious bass