What, Where and When...

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Published on: Apr. 2, 2006

Last revision: Nov. 23, 2010

bottoms in coves and along shorelines. Small notches or depressions along an otherwise straight shoreline often hold spawning crappie. Spawning usually occurs in deeper water in the clear, main lake areas and in shallower water in turbid river arms.

The rest of the year, crappie often suspend around woody structure, such as standing timber and brush piles, or they might school near points and along steep banks.

Crappie can be caught with jigs, minnows or small crankbaits. Most crappie anglers at these reservoirs fish 1/32- to 1/8-ounce light-color jigs. White and chartreuse work well. Fish the jigs at various depths until you find at what depth the crappie are holding.

Crappie hit aggressively in the spring, but when the bite is light, which often is the case in winter, a slight twitch in your line may be the only indication you have that a crappie has taken your lure.


Table Rock Lake paddlefishing is famous. Fish in excess of 80 pounds are not uncommon, and some reach up to 140 pounds. Because natural reproduction is limited, the Conservation Department annually stocks paddlefish fingerlings.

Table Rock paddlefish grow rapidly and reach legal size—34 inches in length, measured from the eye to the fork of the tail—in just six years. The paddlefish season opens on March 15 and runs through April 30. The daily limit of paddlefish is two with a possession limit of four.

The majority of the paddlefish harvest occurs above Cape Fair, in the upper James River Arm. The paddlefish gather there while waiting for sufficient flows to make a spawning run up the river. Paddlefish can migrate as far as 60 miles up the James River.

Because paddlefish are filter feeders and do not bite artificial or natural baits, snagging is the only way to harvest them.

The fish run large, so stout rods and heavy line are necessary.

Anglers usually attach two large treble hooks approximately 2 and 4 feet above an 8- to 20-ounce terminal sinker and troll or drag the hooks and sinker behind a slow-moving boat while making long sweeps with the rod. You know you have the proper amount of weight if your sinker hits bottom between each rod sweep. You can also cast the rig and retrieve it with long rod sweeps.

Finding concentrations of paddlefish with depthfinders will greatly increase your chances of catching paddlefish.


Bull Shoals has some of the best walleye fishing in the Midwest. The fishing is so good

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