April 4, 2014 by Randy Blaukat
Editor's Note: The writer's opinions and observations expressed here are his own, and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views, policies or positions of FLW.
After the bitter cold much of the nation experienced during the past winter, the dogwoods of April will be a welcome sight for the Walmart FLW Tour anglers arriving at Beaver Lake this weekend. With the exceptions of just a couple events, April is traditionally the month that the Walmart FLW Tour stops at Beaver, and it's become one of the more predictable destinations.
Despite such regular visits, from year to year anglers often find different conditions to test their skills. Sometimes the water is high; in other years, low. Some April events at Beaver have been prespawn, with others have occurred right on the spawn, and even a few in the postspawn. The spawn is several weeks behind schedule in most lakes around the country this year, and Beaver is no exception. The 2014 Walmart FLW Tour presented by Rayovac will be dominated by prespawn techniques. The pros will see Beaver a couple of feet low, with water temperatures in the 50-degree range, depending on what part of the lake they're fishing.
Since we've visited Beaver so many times in past springs, the methods and areas anglers choose will be fairly predictable. Next week, all the anglers will be faced with the following choices:
â€¢ Do I go down the lake where the fishing pressure is less, even though fishing in that clear water is so dependent on wind and clouds?
â€¢ Do I stay around Prairie Creek and take a number to fish a bank in the zoo that is the release area?
â€¢ Do I go up the river and go after the very unpredictable and reclusive river fish?
Such are the questions of those who fish Beaver Lake each year and, depending upon an angler's style, the answer usually involves one of the three options mentioned above.
The 2013 Tour event had inflated weights because umbrella rigs were allowed then. They're not now, so I look for the weights to be down a bit from what we saw last year. Look for the top 20 cut to be around 25 or 26 pounds, and the 60th place $10,000 check weight to be approximately 19 or 21 pounds.
There will be several dominating patterns. If we have some wind and clouds, jerkbaits and squarebills will account for some good catches. Light winds and abundant sunshine will see shaky heads, drop-shots and grubs bringing in the consistent limits.
Speaking of shaky heads, you can never underestimate their effectiveness on Beaver. It's one of the few lakes we visit where you can win with it. Consequently, I expect half of the top 10 to have relied on shaky heads to make their way into the finals.
While the shaky head will produce from one end of the lake to the other, power-fishing on Beaver is very conditional on the weather. It's a gamble, but it's a good gamble if things line up right. Most pros are like amateur meteorologists, and will study the extended forecasts in great detail before deciding to go big.
Power-fishing with shallow crankbaits, spinnerbaits and various flipping baits could win this event, especially if an angler can survive massive pounding that 180 of the best bass anglers in the world will inflict on the lake during the first two days.
Given this, the winning technique will be totally dependent upon the weather, and we can't control that. At this time, it looks like we're in for normal winds, partly cloudy skies and air temperatures a bit on the cool side. If conditions stay as they are, I see half of the top 10 making it with a spinning rod, the other half by fishing skinny water.
Regardless, the Walmart FLW Tour anglers once again will experience what has become almost a spring ritual for us: trying to coax reluctant bass to bite while enjoying the beauty of Beaver Lake's rugged shoreline and clear water.
Best of luck to everyone!