A heavy dose of rain rejuvenates
everything on land and water. Whether it’s the tomatoes withering in
your backyard garden or bass languishing in stagnant backwaters, a
downpour of H2O provides relief and sustenance for every living
Rain falling directly onto Table Rock Lake adds much needed oxygen
to the water, but rainfall that hits land first actually improves
fishing the most. Rain water that washes over the ground contains
plenty of elements for setting off a chain reaction when it runs off
into a lake or river.
“Any time you have fresh water coming in the fish are going to
migrate up into that fresh water because it has more oxygen and food
coming into it,” says Stacey King, a two-time B.A.S.S. titleholder
from Reeds Spring. Baitfish are drawn to the run-off area where they
start feeding on an influx of microorganisms, grubs and worms and
then bass move in next.
The amount of rainfall determines how much runoff a body of water
receives and how long it lasts. “You have to have quite a bit of
rain to saturate the ground before a lake starts getting any
runoff,” advises King. “Once the ground gets saturated then that
water will start running off and it will keep running off as long as
it keeps raining.” He has noticed runoff lasting for a couple of
days after some torrential downpours.
A change in water clarity is another byproduct of runoff. In many
instances, mud lines form where the runoff mixes with the main body
Despite all of its benefits to a fishery, runoff can be detrimental
at times. Runoff from melting snow turns off bass. “Any time the
water temperature drops in cold water is not good,” advises King. In
this instance, bass leave the runoff area to seek warmer water
closer to the main lake.
Runoff seems to change the water color more dramatically on a deep,
clear highland reservoir such as Table Rock than it does on lowland
impoundments. “When we get a good bunch of rain it typically dirties
up the water and the fish have a tendency to move into that dirty
water to feed,” says Stacey King.
The best runoff areas are the backs of major creeks and hollows.
Small niches along the steep banks in the coves also are prime spots
for catching runoff bass. As the rainwater flows down these gullies
it collects twigs, limbs and other debris that settles into the
pocket below and forms a mat that King calls a “sawdust pile.”
When the sun shines after the rains, bass use the mat as cover so
King flips a heavy jig into the pile. If heavy rains cause the lake
level to flood shoreline bushes on his home waters of Table Rock
Lake, King also keys on this type of shallow cover in a runoff area.
Spring is the absolute best time to fish runoff on highland
reservoirs because bass move up into the shallows to spawn along the
flatter areas in the backs of pockets. “If you get a warm spring
rain and the lake temperature has been pretty cold, the fish are
going to charge in there,” says King. “There will be a lot of fish
King’s top choice for fishing the runoff is a big-bladed spinnerbait.
“I’ve seen many times here on Table Rock where it would rain real
heavy and you could go out the next day with a big spinnerbait in
the back of one of the areas where the fresh water was coming in and
just catch a big stringer of fish.” He also favors a one-half to
three-quarter ounce jig with a twin tail plastic trailer that he
bumps along the rocks to imitate a big crawfish rooting around on
Some bass can also be taken in the fall when runoff cools down the
water in the backs of coves. “There are a certain amount of fish
that move deep and stay deep for the winter,” says King. “And then
there is another group of fish that are going to move up shallow and
feed aggressively, then stay up there until it gets real cold. With
that group of fish if you get a cool runoff in the fall they come up
and feed in a hurry.” King believes runoff in the summer and winter
has little effect on the fishing since bass usually stay deep in
Table Rock during these seasons.
If it looks like rain is going to dampen your fishing trip at Table
Rock, look for some runoff and you’re likely to find plenty of bass
moving up to meet you there.
For information on shows,
lodging and attractions in the Table Rock Lake or Lake Taneycomo
area or to receive a free vacation guide, call the Branson/Lakes
Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau at
1-800-BRANSON or visit the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce &
CVB web site at
Reprinted with permission from Bassmaster Magazine.