Lakes offer some of the greatest opportunities to catch freshwater fish such as bass and catfish. Table Rock Lake near Branson, MO attracts fishing enthusiasts near and far.
There are many aspects of the lake that make it so popular. However, you do have to know where to go find the best fishing spots. That’s where we come in. We’ve prepared this guide so you can have the best experience possible.
Getting to Know Table Rock Lake
If you’re new to Branson, MO, or you’re planning to visit, you may not be familiar with all that Table Rock Lake has to offer. It’s a man-made lake/reservoir located in the Ozarks, in the southwestern part of Missouri.
The lake was impounded by Table Rock Dam, which was constructed from 1954 to 1958. The lake measures 67.34 square miles and features tree-lined shores, beaches, and plenty of opportunities for water sports of all kinds, including fishing.
Table Rock Lake has become a nationally renowned fishing spot and you can find a variety of species here, including Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Spotted Bass, Catfish, Crappie, Bluegill, and Paddlefish. The large variety is thanks to several water sources that feed into the lake, including Long Creek, and the White, Kings, and James Rivers.
Now, let’s get to the best fishing locations at Table Rock Lake.
A Tale of 3 Regions
Table Rock Lake has three distinct sections where you can find fish.
Lower Lake – This section is closest to the dam. It has the clearest water and banks made of pea gravel. You’ll also find plenty of rock ledges, bluffs, pole timber, and cedars from which to fish.
Middle lake – This section is near Kimberling City. Though it has the same structure as the lower lake, the water is a little less clear.
Upper lake – This third section includes the far reaches of the White and James Rivers. In the spring, the runoff from frequent rain causes the water to warm quicker and become a bit “dirtier”.
Bass fishing is one of the most popular sports in the world. Bass fish actually encompass a large variety of species. However, there are three general families:
- Serranidae – This family includes around 400 species of Sea Bass and Grouper
- Moronidae – This family contains about 6 species like Striped and European Bass
- Centrarchidae (sunfishes) – Species in this family include Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, which are both highly prized by anglers
The bass species in the Table Rock Lake area mostly include Largemouth, Smallmouth, and Spotted Bass.
You should be able to find bass fish all-year-round. However, the pre-spawn and spawning months from March to May generally yield the best results.
Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth, and Spotted Bass prefer shallow, clear water so you’ll find them closest to Table Rock Dam. By the beginning of April, all three species should be spawning so that’s your best opportunity for a big haul. You can find them from the area around the dam to Baxter or Campbell Point.
Around mid-April, during the full moon, the whole lake can spawn.
During the summer and winter, bass move to deeper waters so it can be more of a challenge to catch them. Still, there are opportunities for experienced anglers to test their skills.
Table Rock Lake is not just a paradise for bass fish. You will also find an abundance of crappie. There are both black and white varieties in the lake year-round. Surprisingly, winter is an ideal time to catch crappie.
Crappie love to congregate underneath docks, and since the lake has a lot of docks, there are many places where they can hide. Crappie fish are also abundant in the James River and Long Creek so head to those areas, too.
Another spot to cast your line is the Shell Knob area where the Kings River feeds into the lake. The submerged cedar trees in the area are another favorite hiding spot of the Crappie fish.
If you’re interested in something a little more unusual, try to catch some Paddlefish. This area is known for an abundance of them, and they can grow quite large. In fact, the largest Paddlefish on record weighed in at 140 pounds.
NOTE: You are only allowed to catch Paddlefish from March 15th through April 30th. So, if you want to include them on your fishing itinerary, keep these restrictions in mind.
Bluegill Fish may not be as well known as the Large and Smallmouth Bass, but they are certainly worth the effort to catch. They’re one of the most popular sport fish in the U.S. and can be anywhere from 7.5 inches to 16 inches. If you’re new to fishing or you’re planning to introduce your children/grandchildren to the sport, it’s a great “first catch”.
Bluegill can be found in abundance near the shoreline along the whole lake, especially in the summer. You can fish from the shore or go with a guide who can show you the best spots.
If you’re planning a fish fry, there is nothing better than catfish. They are quite abundant and the clear water makes for very tasty fish.
Channel and flathead catfish can be found throughout the lake. The Indian Point area and the shoreline near the dam usually yield good results. At sunset, catfish move to shallower water, so the best hours are from sundown to sunrise.
Find the Best Fishing Spots Near Branson, MO
Branson, Missouri is known for more than musical reviews and theme parks. Fishing enthusiasts will find plenty of opportunities to catch the big one. Do your research to discover the best fishing spots around Table Rock Lake and the contributing rivers and streams.
If you’re moving to the Branson area, we can help you find the perfect home. We have listings that include gorgeous lake view and lakefront properties.
Contact us to find your new home in the heart of Missouri.