Sunday, April 25, 2010

Table Rock Lake Fishing and Branson Family Trip

Wednesday evening we loaded up 11 kids and 16 adults and headed down to Branson, Missouri for a mini 5 day family vacation. We stayed at The Cliffs at Long Creek Resort overlooking Table Rock Lake. Let me just say that Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops, and the Big Cedar Lodge know how to build and develop the best vacation properties in the United States. This is their newest project that is just 3 miles from the Big Cedar Lodge. Here are some pics of our 5 bedroom, 4 bathroom, 3500 square foot luxury houses we stayed in. Each house has a full theatre room in the basement, 7 large flat screen tv's, pool table, poker table, downstairs bar/kitchen, is completely furnished with all kinds of luxury furniture and decorations, and comes with its own boat slip on the lake as well. Basically nothing in this place could have been done any nicer, bigger, or better.

The story of this trip actually begins back in Sept of 2009 when I was down here at the Big Cedar Lodge teaching at the Pond Boss Convention with Justin. We were in charge of the hands on seining demonstration for the conference. Anyhow on our way home from the conference we stopped in at Bass Pro Shops in Springfield and happened to be in the right place at the right time. They had just opened up this new resort and were looking to fill it up with people this spring. Justin and I didn't come close to meeting the financial requirements to sign up for this promotional trip, but we were lucky we had my dad and older brother along.... They each signed up for the 5 day promotional trip and were abit apprehensive about doing so, but oh my goodness did that ever work out great! We hit the jackpot with this one.

These houses regularly cost about $1000 per night ($1500 or so during peak season) and here we are virtual white trash compared to regular guests who visit these sort of places, being treated like kings. They had free movie rentals, nintendo rentals, drinks, coffee, etc 24 hours per day. It was great (at least for this trip). I still envied the folks camping at the state parks I drove through. I would actually rather camp most of the time given the choice. Nothing beats a campsite overlooking some water, bathing out in nature, sleeping by a campfire with real wood, campsite hot chocolate, and preparing a huge campfire breakfast. But needless to say, experiencing this sort of luxury vacation is at least an experience to chalk off the list.

Let me just say we made the most of every minute of our visit here. We swam at the heated swimming pools and hot tubs nonstop, played shuffleboard, volleyball, pool, card games, and watched movies. Here are some pics of these amenities:

Anyhow we also got good discounts from the resort on many of the area attractions and even $100 Bass Pro gift cards. We went into Branson for the Noah's Ark Musical, Branson's Landing Shopping, Bass Pro Shops, Dogwood Canyon Adventure, and of course had to spend an afternoon fishing too! We rented two fishing boats from Cricket Creek Marina about 8 miles south of the resort, because I had a hunch the fish would be down in the shallow creek channels towards the bottom of the lake. I figured it was easier to drive a car 8 miles than drive the boats that far down. We actually were in Arkansas so we had to get Arkansas fishing licenses.

We get to the marina and had 7 fisherman with a 7 passenger fishing pontoon reserved, but when we got there the first thing the marina guys pointed out was the weight limit for the 7 passenger boat! We exceeded the weight limit with our first 5 guys, not counting gear!! Anyhow they had a nice fishing boat we ended up renting along with the pontoon. We got loaded up in the boats, the marina guy said folks were catching fish North, but I still wanted to head South. So we headed out South looking for fish in this 40,000 acre lake that averages about 50 feet deep. Let me just say I didn't really expect to catch many fish without a guide or any knowledge of this lake whatsoever, but was intrigued with giving er my best effort and figuring something out. The task of finding some fish became even a bit harder with a dead trolling motor battery, generic in the dash depth display and only 6 hours till the boats had to be back to the marina.

The first 3 hours of our trip, this is what we were able to bring in the boat by fishing around the obvious shoreline structures. We caught a handful of bait sized bluegills, a couple 10 inch smallmouth bass, and a 15 inch largemouth.

Anyhow we were getting somewhat discouraged (and rained upon every 30 minutes or so) and then we decided to start shaking things up a bit. In order to eat fish for dinner we needed to figure something out in a hurry. We started trolling around from point to point and focussing on offshore structures and contour changes. Thats when things started happening and fish started flopping on the bottom of our boats! The last 2 hours of our trip we caught tons of short smallmouth, largemouth, spotted bass, longear sunfish, bluegill and small crappie but we also caught the following huge crappie, nice walleye, and flathead catfish.

We had to have the boats back in at 7 pm, but if we could of stayed out for another 1.5 hours of fishing light we would have filled up our coolers completely with fish! Before we left the marina I found out that there was a $150 charge per hour for being late, which wouldnt have been too bad in a situation such as this, but the marina guy caught onto my inquiry pretty quick and said that along with the late fee the lake patrol would be out looking for us as well. Needless to say we were back in at 6:59.

So anyhow there was this guy fishing from the bank on a sandbar and I could see some fish flopping from his stringer. We eased up and started talking to him a bit and had to find out what he caught this monster flathead on. He said he caught it on a 10 inch piece of carp. He graciously allowed me to take a pic to document this beast. When he help up the fish the first time to show us, he had lots of veins and muscles bulging. When I help up the fish, you cant really see any veins or muscles bulging??? (just an extra layer of chin insulation) All I can figure is that I guess I just must be alot stronger than this muscular looking fella was?

Anyhow, here is the rest of the story from our Branson trip April 2010: Dogwood Canyon


  1. Pretty huge fish you've caught there with your family Nate! It makes me wanna go have a vacation with my family and friends, and go fish for fun. Luckily, I have myself a boat with recreational craft directive exemption permit, which makes it easier for me to bring the boat with me.

  2. Sounds like a great trip! Next time you come to Table Rock Lake I can take some of you and rent you a boat for the others.
    Check out my site

  3. Thanks for sharing! My husband loves fishing and wants to go on a trip. I have been looking at Table Rock Lake as an option. I have heard that it is beautiful and the fishing is great. It sounds like that is true!