Don't expect much different fishing-wise at this year's Ramada Quest at Bull Shoals vs. last year's. The event is being held at just about the exact same time; and even allowing for a little variability in weather, BassGold shows that fish in April are caught similar ways year after year, no matter what the weather.
One reason for that is that Bull Shoals is what BassGold calls an "upland reservoir." And while all water types are patternable – which is why BassGold works so well – upland reservoirs are like the poster children for patterning bass. In other words, catch 'em somewhere doing something, and you can run all over the lake – or a big chunk of it – doing the exact same thing.
Take last year's winner on Bull Shoals as an example. Brandon Palaniuk cranked rockpiles: He had one main spot, but ran up to 10 miles just to crank a single pile because he knew the fish would be there.
With that said, here's what BassGold tells us about Bull Shoals this time of year. (Note: This info is compiled from Pattern Reports for tournaments held out of Missouri and Arkansas.)
Even with the dominance of crankbaits at least year's tournament (the top five finishers all cranked), jigs and smaller plastics (tube/grub/craw) still have dominated in wins over the years in April. But cranks aren't far behind.
But when you look at wins and high finishes (second-fifth) together, crankbaits and tubes/grubs/craws are tied for most effective, with jigs second.
When you're all rigged up, head to the bank. The "shoreline" category has accounted for by far the most wins and high finishes over the years. And even though Brandon won it offshore, everyone else was bank-beating. It helps that as an upland pattern lake, Bull Shoals fishes big.
Also productive are typical prespawn areas: points, pockets and creeks. These areas were part of Matt Herren's 3rd place pattern last year.
Rock is key – no surprise there since upland reservoirs are rocky. But skimming the details for the patterns included in these pattern reports show that bigger rock – specifically chunk rock – seems to be key.
Wood is a big help if you can find it, factoring in nearly 40 percent of wins and high finishes.
The Weights by Month graph for this pattern report shows that weights cluster in the mid- to high teens per day needed to win (Brandon's giant winning margin averaged out to about 19.5 pounds per day), with second- to fifth-place weights in the low teens per day.
Note that that these pattern reports include decades of patterns (many exclusive to BassGold) from local sticks who fish the Central Pro-Am and other local trails. Since those folks know Bull Shoals better than most, BassGold's pattern info and weights should be dead on for the Elite – like they were last year.
But these guys are the best in the world, and often find different ways to win (like Brandon) and catch weights beyond the norm.
BassGold averaged 92 percent accuracy last year across the Classic and Elites, and so far is batting pretty much 1,000 this year. Give it a shot!