April 12, 2014 by Kyle Wood
ROGERS, Ark. - Winning on the Walmart FLW Tour from the back of the boat is no small feat and often time highlights a career for that lucky person. This week, that honor belongs to longtime FLW angler Mike McDonald who tackled a tough Beaver Lake and came out on top.
His week began with catching just three fish that tipped the scale at 8 pounds, 2 ounces. He found more fish on day two but his weight stayed the same with a limit weighing 8-6. Though he hauled just four bass to the stage on Saturday they weighed 8-2 to bring his three-day total to 24-10 - earning him the title of champion and a check for $25,000.
"This has been a phenomenal week," said McDonald who resides in Randleman, N.C. "I got to fish with two legends of the sport this week in Jimmy Houston and Larry Nixon. I had a blast with Jimmy on the first day and got the privilege to go out with Nixon yesterday. Larry has to be the most professional guy I have been in the boat with, and I have been doing this (tournament fishing) for 40 years. I can't say enough about how he treated me. He even called me last night to congratulate me for making the cut.
"And to top it all off I got to fish with my practice partner Matt Arey today. You couldn't dream of a better situation."
McDonald spent 25 years of his life on Table Rock Lake located just down the White River from Beaver. His experience on both Beaver and Table Rock were invaluable when he arrived with Matt Arey (current leader on the pro side) for practice on Sunday.
"I have fished Beaver Lake half of my life," said McDonald. "So I knew what to look for around this time of year.
"Matt (Arey) bet me dinner that I wouldn't catch five bass in three days of practice, and I didn't so I guess I owe him. But we did end up figuring something out that helped us both this week. There was one bait that worked well for us and I decided not to use it this week so that Matt could take advantage."
McDonald utilized a green pumpkin and brown Obsession jig. He tipped it with a Whackem craw and threw it on 12-pound-test line. His rod of choice was an 853 GLoomis with a Shimano Chronarch reel. He went on to explain that backing the drag off helped him from breaking that light line during the hookset.
"I have won three other FLW tournaments, but this one is by far the jewel. This win will make my career no matter what happens. When it is your time, it's your time and it was meant to be for me. I didn't lose any fish this week and that needs to happen to win."
Winning this event is quite the feat considering he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer close to six years ago. For McDonald, the shear fact that he still gets to enjoy tournament fishing is the biggest title he could hold.
"I'm wearing my good friend Ralph Mylhousen's jersey today because his daughter is going through some tough times right now. Everyone at my church is praying for his daughter and I want to dedicate this victory to her."
Lee lands in second
It's hard to find an angler that loves Beaver Lake more than Jasper, Ala., resident Todd Lee. Before this tournament Lee held four top-10 finishes at Beaver Lake - three of which were top five performances. Today, Lee notched another top 10 in his belt with a three-day total weight of 24 pounds, 10 ounces.
"This lake (Beaver) is special to me," explained Lee. "It fishes a lot like the lake by my home because it has spotted bass and it's deep. Beaver is full of fish. You just need to keep your head down and fish hard and you can catch a limit."
Lee fished hard on day one to bring in a limit worth 8-7. His second day was tougher with just four bass weighing 5-9 and he backed that up with another Beaver Lake limit today weighing 9-1. Lee's finish this week was enough to earn a check for $7,500 for his second runner-up title in a row this season.
"I fished different every day. All of my pros were on fish which makes it easier. Today, I was with Casey Ashley and he was fishing a way that makes it so a co-angler can actually fish."
Lee sampled all three water colors present on Beaver Lake this week. On day one he fished the dirty water in the river and threw a crankbait. Day two found Lee in some stained water and he elected to use a drop-shot. He ended the tournament down by that dam in the clear water and chose a swimbait to land his largest weight of the week.
"Beaver Lake is deep, clear and beautiful. I just absolutely love it. I hope it is on the schedule every year."
New nets third
One of the hottest co-anglers on the Tour right now - Bryan New - kept his streak alive adding another top-10 finish to his resume with a third place showing this week on Beaver Lake. His total weight for the event went 22 pounds, 13 ounces to claim his $5,000 check.
"I came into this event having never weighed a limit on Beaver Lake," said New. "I was really dreading coming here.
"I set my mind for the fact that to do well here from the back of the boat you have to throw a jerkbait, swimbait and shaky head."
On day one New fished in the dirtier water with a jerkbait and a 3/8-ounce Charlie's Worms jig head and Zipper Dipper. He caught around 30 fish and made four or five culls but weighed a small limit of 6-2. New fished clear water on the second day and made the change to a Charlie's Worms Zipper Dipper swimbait in gray ghost color weighing most all of his 12-10 limit on it. The final weapon in his arsenal for the week was 3/16-ounce Charlie's Worms Superbowl shaky-head jig with a Charlie's Worms Finesse Worm - watermelon colored - which helped a couple keepers on the final day that totaled 4-1.
"My goal for this season is to win another event and win the Co-Angler of the Year title. I slipped in the first event of the year and I think that may hurt me. Otherwise, I have been doing everything I need to do. I know a lot of guys fish hard but I can promise you that nobody will fish as hard as I will."
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers at the FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake:
4th - Nick Hensley - 22-11 - $4,000
5th - Nick Loeffelman Jr. - 22-2 - $3,250
6th - Braxton Setzer - 21-3 - $2,500
7th - James Jewett - 19-14 - $2,000
8th - JR Wright - 19-4 - $1,800
9th - Michael Smith - 18-13 - $1,700
10th - Hunter Hicks - 18-8 - $1,600
For complete results click here.