April 8, 2014 by Kyle Wood
Beaver Lake marks the fourth of six regular-season stops on the Walmart FLW Tour. This trip will be the 16th time the Tour has made a stop to the White River impoundment. With the season half finished at this point every decision becomes more vital for those looking to earn valuable points toward qualify for the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Murray presented by Walmart and hosted by Capital City/Lake Murray Country Aug. 14-17.
After a much colder winter than usual on Beaver - cold enough to cause ice to form on parts of the lake for the first time that many locals can remember - the fish are behind schedule. Recent rains have water quality in the lake lower than normal, and when coupled with lower water temperatures you have a recipe for a tough bite. Prespawn bass will be the focus this week with a slim shot at some early bed fish by the weekend if the weather warms up. With that in mind, below are five pros that bear monitoring as competition begins Thursday.
Greg Hackney - The 2009 Forrest Wood Cup champion has one of the hottest hands in the sport right now. Hackney fishes both FLW and B.A.S.S., so his practice time has been limited. Surprisingly, that has been working to his advantage since he has posted back-to-back finishes in the top 10 over the last two weeks. His approach has been to simply go fishing and "feel the lake out" as the week rolls on. That mentality sets him up perfectly for Beaver since he just spent a week on Table Rock - located just up the road - for the B.A.S.S. event where he finished third. This essentially extended his practice period for the week and helped him keep the vibe of what these Ozark bass are up to. Hackney is in his element flipping a jig in stained water, which means fishing up the river - where Jason Christie won the event last year - may suit him well.
James Watson - I wouldn't consider him a local, but Watson is no slouch when it comes to catching bass in the Ozark region. The Waynesville, Mo., resident lists Table Rock as his favorite lake - posting numerous top 10s there. However, he has seen his share of success on nearby Beaver and Grand as well. Watson is a pretty diverse angler who can adapt to whatever a particular lake throws his way. That should be helpful for dealing with daily changes that are sure to occur during the tournament this week. His season started out with a strong third-place finish at Okeechobee but has since been on a downward spiral. This tournament will offer a chance for Watson to turn things around and make up some ground on the road to qualifying for the Forrest Wood Cup.
Cody Meyer - You can't talk about Beaver Lake without mentioning a finesse-fishing guru. In this case it would happen to be the guy leading the Angler of the Year race - Repel pro Cody Meyer. He is fishing one of his best seasons to date at this point and is showing no signs of slowing down. In his last three trips with the Tour to Beaver he has finished no lower than 26th. That should come as no surprise considering how well the deep, clear impoundment fits his strength of finesse fishing. The conditions should be perfect for Meyer to do some damage on prespawn bass with a drop-shot or shaky head. The fact that Beaver contains spotted bass, largemouth and smallmouth only opens up more opportunities for the California native.
Kerry Milner - The 2013 Walmart BFL All-American champion continues to impress with how well he can compete at the highest level. After finishing in fourth place at the Forrest Wood Cup last year, Milner went on to take 12th in the season-opener on Okeechobee. He has stumbled some since, but I bet it won't last long. Milner is from Arkansas but hails from the opposite side of the Natural State from Beaver, which means he's not a true local, though he has finished in the top 10 at a BFL event held on Beaver in the fall. Milner should have a good base of what to expect. The Tour rookie possesses the strengths to excel up the river or by the dam in this tournament. Being able to fish close to home could be what the doctor ordered to keep his confidence up as he starts the final leg of the season.
Dan Morehead - If Morehead can get on a pattern that he is comfortable with, expect to see him make some sparks fly. He is one of the few guys who truly understand the shallow-crankbait bite - namely the Wiggle Wart bite - that happens on Beaver Lake. He holds a pair of top-10 finishes on Beaver as well as a win back in 2003, in which he utilized a shallow-running crankbait. The George Foreman pro is coming off a seventh-place showing on Grand Lake in the Rayovac FLW Series event held last week. While Beaver and Grand are different lakes, they are still Ozark bodies of water, and you can bet his recent "practice" from Grand should help cue Morehead into what the Beaver bass are thinking.