What, Where and When...
slowly, even during moderately windy conditions.
Smoke and natural-colored grubs seem to work best. Use a medium-action spinning rod with 6- to 8-pound-test line. Many anglers choose green or “invisible” lines because the water at Table Rock and Bull Shoals is generally clear.
Jig and grub combos can be very productive in the spring and summer months. They work well on pea-gravel banks and transition banks, where bluffs change into shallower banks. Position your boat so you can cast to both shallow and deep water.
Cast the grub and let it fall to the bottom. While maintaining the rod tip at the 12 o’clock position, slowly retrieve the jig all the way back to the boat. Strikes may be fierce, or they may feel like additional weight has been added to the line.
During winter months, grubs work best when “swum” over submerged trees or when fished vertically near schools of shad.
Carolina rigs with plastic baits allow anglers to cover both shallow and deep water quickly and efficiently.
Use only enough weight to stay in contact with the bottom. Lighter sinkers have a tendency to hang up less and improve an angler’s sensitivity to a strike. Windy conditions and deeper water usually require heavier weights.
The leader should be lighter than the main line. Begin with a 2-foot leader, but you might run shorter or longer leaders depending on the water clarity, type of cover and structure being fished, and what the fish seem to prefer.
Hooks with wide gaps or worm hooks work best. Choose smaller hook sizes to keep the lure buoyant and to maintain its action.
Standard lures used in Carolina rigging include 4- to 8-inch plastic lizards, finesse worms and creature baits. Lizards work best in the spring. Smaller baits are more effective in clear water or when there is a lot of angling pressure.
Fish the rig by dragging it along the bottom with a slow, steady retrieve or vary the retrieve by pausing occasionally. Experiment until the fish indicate which retrieve they prefer.
Carolina rigging is great for catching bass in shallow water, especially in April, but the method also catches bass in deeper water—down to 35 feet—off secondary and primary points.
Casting top-water lures is one of the most exciting ways to catch bass at Bull Shoals and Table Rock. When conditions for top-water fishing are right, the action can be explosive.
When water levels are high, work floating worms, fished weightless on spinning tackle,