Fall Fishing at Table Rock Lake
Enjoy excellent bass fishing and weather throughout the autumn months
Take a moment to picture yourself on Table Rock Lake. You launch your boat as the morning fog lifts from the water’s surface, revealing trees ablaze in fall colors along the bluffs and hilltops. There is hardly another boat in sight. The air is crisp and the water is clear, with fish so eager to be caught they nearly jump into your net. Table Rock provides this dreamy scenery from October through early December and it’s all just minutes from Branson, Missouri. Anglers—whether on a buddy trip, family outing, or solitary retreat—should seriously consider the fall season when planning a fishing trip to this 45,000-surface-acre freshwater paradise. You can already picture it—you just need to get yourself there.
As the autumn weather settles in, cooling the water from summertime heat, the fish are revitalized and ready to begin their feeding frenzy before winter sets in. Table Rock Lake never freezes (there may be a little ice around the banks during severe winters), and with its location south of the 37th parallel, anglers will find excellent fishing and weather throughout the autumn months. Perhaps the biggest advantage of a fall trip is that after a busy summer season, you’ll see very few jet skis, towboats, and speedboats on the lake. You can experience the natural beauty of the area with little distraction.
What you’ll catch
The primary species for anglers at Table Rock Lake is black bass. Largemouth, spotted, and smallmouth bass are all abundant, and all three will nearly rip the rod right out of your hands when they take your bait during the fall feeding frenzy. Smallmouth bass will typically be located from Kimberling City to the dam area. They are nomadic, but travel in schools most of the time. When you find one, you’ve found many others. Spotted bass are found throughout the lake, often mixing with largemouth and smallmouth from the upper lake extremities to the dam area. Largemouth bass like slower, more protected waters in the backs of creeks and the upper channels of the rivers that feed the lake.
For the kids, bass fishing is fun, but they’ll also enjoy catching the feisty bluegills that are abundant in the lake. All you need is a few live worms (available at many locations) and kids of all ages will be grinning ear-to-ear as they reel in these colorful little fish.
In addition to bass and bluegill, the lake also has crappie, walleye, catfish, and even trout—fish the tailwaters below the dam for trophy trout. For those who have been bitten by the bowfishing bug, there are plenty of nongame fish such as carp drum and gar you can target. As always, be sure to check with the Missouri Department of Conservation for license requirements, seasonal restrictions, and limits.
Where you’ll catch ’em
Fall is a transition time for fish. Bass move out of their deep-water summer locations, following schools of shad as they move toward the backs of creeks. Pay close attention to the water’s surface. When you see the shad schools creating a small disturbance, it means predator fish will be nearby. Look for areas where the creek channels swing close to the lakeshore, especially if there is also a steep bluff present. This is a key ingredient in the fall. These locations attract both shad and bass. You’ll find bluegill up shallow during the fall as well.
What you’ll catch ’em on
A Storm Wiggle Wart has been the traditional fall go-to bait for serious bass anglers on Table Rock Lake for decades. The Wiggle Wart is a tight-wobbling crankbait that mimics a crawdad darting along the rocky bottom. Almost any fish in Table Rock Lake will also strike a small plastic lure such as a finesse worm or grub style bait. If you just want to sit back and enjoy the beautiful show of fall color drenched across the shorelines, just bait your hook with a worm, attach a bobber, and enjoy the scenery. Before you know it, the bobber will disappear and you’ll be reeling in a fish.
Guided fishing trips & fishing boat rentals
If you are not comfortable navigating a vessel on the lake, or just want some expert guidance, considering hiring a fishing guide. This will save you time and might just help you hook the fish of a lifetime, because they know the lake from end to end. For those wanting to rent a boat, check out the full service marinas for options.
Cast a line from the bank. Troll from a kayak or canoe. Reel ’em in from a fishing boat, or pontoon. Wherever you cast your line from in Table Rock Lake, magnificent and colorful views are abound and the fish are biting during the autumn season. Next time you imagine fishing here, imagine yourself also smiling for the camera as you hold your big catch, making memories that will last a lifetime.