April 11, 2014 by Curtis Niedermier
Arkansas pro Spencer Shuffield took over the lead going into the weekend at the Walmart FLW Tour Beaver Lake event presented by Rayovac and hosted by Visit Rogers. His two-day total is 29 pounds, but there's a string of veteran pros and fellow rising stars stacked up behind him in the standings, looking to snatch away the trophy that the 24-year-old covets so much.
You can read Shuffield's full day-two story here.
Here's a rundown of how the rest of the top five made it to the weekend.
2nd place - Andy Morgan - 27 pounds, 15 ounces
No surprises here - reigning Walmart FLW Tour Angler of the Year Andy Morgan (who's currently in second place in the 2014 AOY race, by the way) brought in the day's second-heaviest limit - 15 pounds, 4 ounces - to leap from 21st place to second. He's just 1 pound, 1 ounce behind Shuffield.
Morgan said one of his strategies today was to try and find a place to get away from the crowds that so often gather on Beaver Lake.
"This lake is not a bad lake," Morgan said. "It has got a lot of fish in it, but it fishes small. I'm running a little new water just because I'm trying to find something a little different. I found a couple little areas just off the beaten path."
By day's end, Morgan said he found himself migrating a little bit deeper, too, which required him to slow down his presentation.
"When it was cloudy, I threw a reaction bait, but when it was slick, I had to throw a jig and a worm," Morgan said.
The final piece to him putting together a Beaver Lake win is figuring out how to prop up his limit with more largemouths this weekend. He weighed two largies today, but none on Thursday.
"I'm puzzled on largemouths," Morgan said. "I can't catch them. It just kills me because I know that's what it's going to take to finish well here."
3rd place - Matt Arey - 27 pounds, 6 ounces
North Carolina pro Matt Arey was one of only three pros in the top 10 to bring in a heavier stringer on day two than day one. His limit today weighed 14 pounds, 6 ounces. He'll go into the weekend 1 pound, 10 ounces off the lead.
Arey said he's not looking to sprint into the lead this week with a jumbo limit. Rather, he's playing this one like a marathon and looking for a consistent 13-pound average that will help him outlast the field through Sunday.
"Slow and steady," Arey said about his technique. "I've got a deal that's consistent no matter the conditions. It's prespawn, but it's really close to spawning areas. This lake hasn't seen a big spawn yet."
He's starting each day in a popular community hole and isn't straying more than 7 miles from takeoff. Today, it worked well in the morning. Arey had his limit by 10:30 a.m.
"I'm targeting little key places," he said. "They're 3- to 8-foot-deep transition areas, leading into spawning areas."
4th place - Troy Morrow - 26 pounds, 10 ounces
If you dropped Troy Morrow into his ideal fishing situation, he'd land in a clear mountain reservoir where bass are relating to deep water. So it's no surprise that the Eastanollee, Ga., pro is positioned in the top five heading into the weekend at this Beaver Lake prespawn showdown.
He backed up a 14-pound, 3-ounce day-one limit with 12 pounds, 7 ounces today.
"I'm running a lot of water and fishing a little deeper than a lot of guys," Morrow said. "The sun isn't going to affect me as much. I think it [his pattern] was affected, but the sunshine didn't kill it."
Morrow has avoided dirty water all week in favor of the clearer water that he says Beaver's smallmouths prefer. By targeting those areas, he's always in a place where he can catch spotted bass limit-fillers or a largemouth or smallmouth kicker.
He's focusing on two large creeks and about a dozen individual spots where he can pull up and make precise casts to his targets.
"I've learned the key areas where I'm fishing," Morrow said. "But every day is different, so I'm definitely going to put some different baits in the boat in case I have to scramble tomorrow."
5th place - Micah Frazier - 26 pounds, 5 ounces
Georgia pro Micah Frazier climbed into the top five Friday despite catching more than 2 pounds less than he did on day one.
"It was a lot tougher," he said. "Yesterday I caught them pretty good early. Today I abandoned what I was doing and went and caught mostly spots.
"I covered a lot of water," he added. "What I'm doing is kind of a pattern, and tomorrow I'll be fishing a lot of the same stuff."
Today, Frazier began with the same reaction baits he used on day one but eventually had to slow down and fish for survival. He thinks that if the wind blows this weekend, he has a strong program that could allow him to make a run at Shuffield.
"I think they're coming to me, but I'm not sure," Frazier said. "It'll be good to have less pressure with only 20 guys fishing tomorrow. I think I've got a bait that they like. I think that's why I'm able to catch them, but other guys around me are not."
Rest of the best
6th place - Cody Meyer - 26 pounds, 1 ounce
7th place - Casey Ashley - 25 pounds, 13 ounces
8th place - Bryan Thrift - 25 pounds, 12 ounces
9th place - David Dudley - 25 pounds, 10 ounces
10th place - Mark Rose - 24 pounds, 14 ounces
For the full results, click here.