When the Walmart FLW Tour visited Table Rock Lake in 2010, National Guard pro Brent Ehrler of Redlands, Calif., dominated the field with a four-day weight of 69 pounds, 11 ounces — more than 13 pounds heavier than the second-place weight. That event was held in early March, however, and a later date and warm weather have set this year’s Table Rock event up to be a slugfest.
The Walmart FLW Tour on Table Rock Lake presented by Kellogg’s will visit Branson, Mo., March 29-April 1 for the second major of its 17th season. Hosted by the Branson/Lakes Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, the tournament will feature a full field of the world’s best bass pros and co-anglers casting for top awards up to $125,000 cash in the Pro Division and up to $25,000 cash in the Co-angler Division.
“The fish are starting to spawn up here where I live,” said Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes pro Dave Lefebre of Erie, Pa. “So I can only imagine there’s some spawning going on at Table Rock. So there’s going to be pre-spawn, spawning and maybe even post-spawn fish by the time the tournament starts. And there’s just so many different techniques you can use this time of year.
“Table Rock is a cool place because it’s so big and versatile,” Lefebre added.
Lefebre said pre-spawn bass will be staging in standing timber and anglers will target those fish with swimbaits, spinnerbaits, jerkbaits and drop-shot rigs. He said that some anglers will opt to go upriver in search of a flipping bite. He said that anglers will have the opportunity to fish both clear and dirty water, which will really let the field play to their individual strengths.
“It’s a good jig lake,” Lefebre said. “And that’s how I like to fish when I go there.”
Lefebre said 2010’s winning weight of 69-11 won’t even be close to what it will take to claim the title this year.
“The weights will be significantly better than when we were there last time,” Lefebre said. “The winning weight of 69-11 from the last time we were there won’t even be enough to make the top-10 cut this time.”
In FLW Tour competition, anglers are also vying for valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2012 Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing. This year’s Cup will be in Duluth/Gainesville, Ga., Aug. 9-12 on Lake Lanier and anglers could win as much as $500,000 – the sport’s biggest award. Anglers are also vying for the prestigious 2012 Walmart FLW Tour Angler of the Year presented by Kellogg’s title that will be determined by the most points accumulated over the six Tour Majors.
Anglers will take off from Table Rock State Park Marina located at 380 State Park Marina Road in Branson at 7 a.m. each morning. Thursday and Friday’s weigh-ins will be held at Table Rock State Park Marina beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday’s final weigh-ins will be held at the Walmart located at 1101 Branson Hills Pkwy. in Branson beginning at 4 p.m.
Fans will be treated to the FLW Outdoors Expo at the Walmart on Saturday and Sunday from noon-4 p.m. prior to the final weigh-ins. The Expo includes Ranger boat simulators, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and fans can learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public.
As part of the FLW Tour’s community outreach initiative, select FLW Tour anglers will be working in conjunction with AmeriCorps to clean up debris left behind by storm damage in the greater Branson area in late February.
Coverage of the Table Rock Lake tournament will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network when “FLW” airs May 6 from 1 – 2 p.m. ET. “FLW” is hosted by Jason Harper and is broadcast to more than 559 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world.