Table Rock Lake is best known as one of the nation's best bass lakes, but the impoundment also holds thriving populations of both black and white crappie. Located in the Ozarks of southwestern Missouri and northwestern Arkansas, the man-made lake has tons of rock and wood structure as well as prime shallow spawning habitat for crappie. Crappie are easiest to find in the spring but can be caught from Table Rock year-round.
How To Find Crappie
Start in one of the three major river arms (Kings River, White River and the James River). These hold the biggest populations of crappie in the lake. Crappie can be caught here from early winter to mid-spring. In March, crappie school in pockets and coves with timber and brush in preparation for the spawn. Search these areas with jigs, grubs and minnows.
Try fishing in April because this is when crappie spawn in Table Rock Lake, and it is one of the most productive times to fish. Chunk-rock shorelines, shallow brush piles, and submerged timber are top areas. Try the same places that produced in March but fish shallower. Crappie sometimes can be caught right up against the bank at this time.
Look for crappie in deeper water after the spawn. Areas with deep submerged timber can be productive. Crappie tend to disperse in summer, but you can still find them. They might move to shallow water at night, so try fishing with live minnows around docks and brush piles. Small crankbaits (hard-bodied minnow imitating lures) and spinners are good choices during summer because they can cover a lot of water quickly, helping you find fish faster.
Look for crappie in 6 to 10 feet of water in fall. As the water cools into October, fish around sunken cedar trees in feeder creek beds. Start by trolling or casting a fast-moving lure, then slow down once you find fish.
- Talk to local guides and bait shop owners. Nobody knows the ins and outs of fishing Table Rock like people who fish it year-round.
- lake tahoe image by Brian Weiss from Fotolia.com