Bass Angler Magazine

A Beginner’s Guide to Night Fishing at Table Rock Lake


Brought to you by Fishing Report Table Rock

Night time bass fishing became popular in the 1960’s.  Bass fishing during the day developed in Europe and migrated west to the United States.

Night time bass fishing has several benefits over day time bass fishing.

  • Fewer Anglers
  • Peaceful
  • Ability to catch larger bass
  • Enhanced Bass feeding patterns
  • Weather patterns are calm
  • Enhanced Moon phases

Night time bass fishing does have some downfalls?

  • Angler safety due to no daylight
  • Boater safety
  • Debris not see in the water
  • Sounds magnify
  • Pest/bugs


Table Rock Lake is an artificial lake known as a highland reservoir located in the Ozarks of Southwest Missouri.  The Army Corps of Engineer completed a damn for flood control in 1958.

The normal pool of Table Rock Lake is 917 feet with a flood pool of 931 feet.  The normal pool hosts a vast 43,000 acres and the flood pool host a vast 52,000 acres with depths reaching 200 foot.

Table Rock Lake is a popular attraction near the tourism mecca of Branson Missouri.  The lake is home to many marinas where patrons can rent boat, jet skis, and pontoons.  The lake is fed by 4 major tributary river arms.  The White River that comes from Beaver Lake, the Kings River, The James River and The Long Creek.

The lake varies according to season for surface water temperature.

  • Spring: 56 to 77F
  • Summer 85 to 90F
  • Fall 71 to 82F
  • Winter 42 to 47F

This variety of temperatures changes how the bass angler would adapt their fishing tactics, bait types, and fishing locations.

Table Rock Lake water clarity is well known to be clear.  The normal visibility on the main lake can reach sometimes down 30 to 40 feet.  The river arms are more stained with visibility sometimes down to 6 inches.


Do you resist the abundance of pleasure boats in the summer?  Are prime fishing spot’s always taken before you arrive?  Is it just to hot to fish during the day?  I have a solution for you, fish at night.

Here on my home waters of Table Rock Lake, I fish year-round, day, evening and night, says Chis Gibbons from the Table Rock Lake Fishing Report.

By far, my favorite time to fish Table Rock Lake is at night.  Everyone else has already spent the day or evening fishing and are home nicely tucked in bed.  That’s when I get up at 3:00 AM, hook up the boat and take off to the ramp.

Night fishing can be challenging.  It can also be a bass catching feast.

Some of the biggest bass I have caught is at night.  Bass, especially those big girls feed at night, regularly.  I have found that the small mouth bass feed more then Spotted and Large Mouth.  The small mouth are very aggressive during the night, and will strike fast and slow moving baits.


I have 3 got to baits for night fishing:

  1. Black spinner bait with a large Colorado blade.
  2. Black or purple worm on a ½ ounce weight.
  3. Jig

My favorite bait of all is that Black Spinnerbait.  Having a large Colorado blade moves a great deal of water around the bait and the bass can not only feel the water movement, they can see it.  Bass use feeling more often then any other wild animal.

Anglers have all types of ways to fish a spinnerbait at night, but my favorite is reeling slow enough that you feel a slow thump.  I call it the thump, thump, thump feeling.

My worm I fish on a ½ ounce weight, cast, and reel back with the worm never loosing contact with the bottom moving it very slowly.

My jig is moved slowly.  I do hop it from time to time but I’ve learned at night that moving the jig a few inches at a time can sometimes catch larger fish.

I had a friend of mine, Mark Politte tell me that jig fishing at night he add rattles and, hops it aggressively to catch bigger bass.  He also says during a full moon, he uses a white spinner bait with silver blades.  He says the will clobber it.

The bait can be fished two separate ways.

  1. Parallel the bank
  2. The traditional way is to set away from the bank and cast in.

My favorite way is to parallel the bank.

Parallel the bank:  I set my boat as close to the bank as I can get it, sometimes I can reach out and touch the bank with my hand.  I make forward cast parallel as close to the bank and I can get.  Next, I cast away from the bank about 1 foot.  I will follow that up with another cast 5 foot from the bank.  This technique will target those feeding fish while allowing you to keep the bait in a hot strike zone longer.

Parallel fishing will keep you from tangling up in buck brush, rocks and trees as bad.

The traditional set away from the bank and cast in:  This method has proven to work for millions of anglers for years.  It’s a very effective way to catch fish.  I set my boat in about 25 foot of water and cast inward.  At times I will allow my spinnerbait to drop in order to reach some deeper fish since your siting in deeper water.  You will find fishing this way sometimes the smaller fish bite more often.

Smaller fish tend to rise in the water column from their holding location.  They do this for many reasons but often it’s a method they use to stay clear of the larger fishing on the hunt for a quick meal.  The smaller fish are targeting a meal from the balls of shad that are found out away from the bank.  The smaller fish will seek out a quick meal rising vertical fast and moving back down as soon as they eat something.

The larger fish target the bank as baitfish and crawfish will be in shallow water.  A large bass often a female bass, will target those baitfish shallow and can pen them down to eat.

If you were to take a bright light and shine on the bank at night here on Table Rock Lake, you will find shad scattered on the bank along with a mixture of other smaller fish species.  They don’t tend to ball up on the bank.  They are also seeking a meal.


I target 1 specific structure type for night fishing.  I target 45 degree chunk rock banks.  I do this primarily due to the availability of crawfish that lives in chunk rock.  The bank slope of 45 degree adds the benefit of allow the fish to rise in the water column vertically, quickly for a fast meal.

Chunk rock is well known to hold crawfish that has a great deal of protein for the bass diet.  Bass tend at night to seek out the large meals in order to hold them over till the next feeding time.  If a bass eats 2-3 crawdad that a full meal for them.

Seeking out chunk rock is vital for overall success. Chunk rock comes in all different sizes and shapes.  I identify chunk rock as boulders mixed in sizes from football size all the way up to size of automobiles.  Chunk rock of these sizes all bass to seek cover and additionally gives them a prime location to eat.


Chris Gibbons is the host for the Table Rock Lake Fishing Report videoed on Facebook almost daily.  The fishing report Facebook page has around 5000 followers as of January 2019.  The followers often view the reports with about 2000-3000 daily hits.  Out of those 5000 followers, the reach is covering 26 states and 7 other countries.


If your thinking about night fishing, this should give you a great resource in how-to, what structure to fish, and some good bait selections.



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