What, Where and When...

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Published on: Apr. 2, 2006

Last revision: Nov. 23, 2010

in and around flooded shoreline brush and vegetation. Bright colors, such as bubble gum pink, chartreuse, yellow and methiolate are normally the best producers. You usually see fish take the worm. Experiment with the speed of your retrieve.

Zara spooks, red-fins and chugger-type baits are effective in clearer water. Baitfish colors are recommended. Generally, darker lures are more effective during low-light and overcast conditions. Choose light color or even clear lures when the skies are bright.

Bluegill

Table Rock and Bull Shoals reservoirs have great bluegill fishing. Eight- to 10- inch fish are common and offer an excellent opportunity for youngsters and adults to reap a harvest. Bluegill are aggressive and easy to catch during their spawning period, which usually peaks near the end of May, but may continue until late July, or even August.

The fish typically spawn in small side pockets off larger coves. They prefer to spawn in areas with a pea-gravel bottom. Most spawning takes place at a depth of 8 to 10 feet. Bluegill nests are usually located close together, so if you catch one bluegill, it’s likely the same area will yield others.

Once bluegill have spawned, they typically move to more elongated main lake, pea-gravel points and can be found in water depths ranging from 15 to 30 feet. Most of the year, the secret to catching quality-size bluegill at these reservoirs is to get away from the shoreline and fish deeper water.

Bluegill are terrific fighters and are fun to catch on light action spinning rods or ultra-light rods with 2- or 4-pound-test line. Natural baits, like crickets, river worms, nightcrawlers, meal worms and wax worms, work well. When using worms or nightcrawlers, it’s best to pinch off a piece of bait approximately an inch in length rather than using the entire worm.

The best technique for deeper bluegill is to fish straight down with the bait just off the bottom, while moving the boat slowly to locate fish. A long-shank hook and crimp-on, split-shot weights are all you need for this type of fishing.

Crappie

Crappie fishing on Bull Shoals and Table Rock lakes is up and down depending on the success of previous crappie spawns. When crappies have a good spawning year, anglers usually have great crappie fishing two to three years later.

Crappie fishing is best from mid April through early May, when water temperatures in the mid-50s trigger the fish to spawn. They seek out sand or gravel

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