April 18, 2014 by Colin Moore
April, was that really you?
It was a fair question asked by the anglers who participated in the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by Rayovac last week. After all, Beaver Lake bass and the weather are supposed to be on the same page by this time of year, but everything seemed out of whack by a month when the Tour visited Rogers, Ark.
Kellogg's Pop-Tarts pro Greg Bohannan reckoned that the lake was fishing as if it was March. That is, water temperatures in the low to mid-50s deferred the largemouths' annual swim en masse toward the banks. It also meant that they were sulking somewhere between deep and shallow water. Otherwise, Beaver Lake's Kentuckies were true-to-form: stunted stringer-fillers patrolling the points for the most part, or else here today, gone tomorrow for the bigger spots that can make a difference at a weigh-in. Smallmouths filled a lot of the empty space in livewells, too, and meant better paydays for some anglers. However, they weren't to be found in enough numbers to dominate the event.
It all boiled down to a matter of place and pattern that anglers chose and how their selections interfaced with changing water and weather conditions. Those whose practices accommodated transitioning largemouth bass at least put themselves in positions to win. Most, like those below, were the victims of the weather and, well ... Beaver Lake.
Day 1: 15-05 (2nd place)
Day 2: 13-11 (1st place)
Day 3: 5-05 (12th place)
I was on a jerkbait bite starting out, but then it warmed up so quickly during the tournament that the fish didn't want a jerkbait anymore. They got to where they were just nipping at it, or even following it back to the boat without taking it at all. The second and third days I should have had anywhere from 14 to 18 pounds a day if I had hooked every fish that chased it [Megabass 110] back to the boat without hitting it. I was in Indian Creek most of the time, and the water temperature went from 49 to 56 degrees.
Absolutely, it was the warmer weather that came in that messed me up. I tried other things, but not like I should have. I got stubborn and hardheaded that third day because I had been catching them that way and figured it would turn around. Then, too, I didn't really have anything else dialed in. I thought I had a good swimbait pattern figured out in practice, but when I went to it I realized that that bite was gone too.
There wasn't any wind the second day, and that didn't help. But the third day it was howling, and I thought, oh boy, they're really going to be on. Except they weren't. What's weird is that last year it was 58 degrees, and I caught 14-14 on the first day at Beaver using jerkbaits. I can't explain the difference between then and now.
Day 1: 14-15 (3rd place)
Day 2: 8-11 (19th place)
Day 3: 6-06 (18th place)
The first place I went to on day one, I caught a 4-10 fishing what the locals call "sawdust," which is just a bunch of leaves and sticks and stuff floating against the bank. The largemouths in the back of that pocket were in water from 6 inches to a foot deep.
Then the lake began to fall slowly, and the sawdust wound up becoming part of the bank. Everything got high and dry. It must have fallen at least 8 inches in the backs of the pockets I was fishing, and that did it for the largemouths. I caught four more keepers in my next-best spot, but it got covered up with boats. If I had it to do over, I would have gone to two creeks I found in practice where I caught some fish. I wondered if at least one of the leaders was fishing there, too. In practice I broke off a big largemouth fishing flooded bushes in one area, and I believe Travis Fox [fourth place] caught it later on. I was throwing about the same stuff as everybody else, though on day two I caught two good keeper spots waking a Bomber Long A. I doubt too many others were doing that.
Day 1: 14-04 (9th place)
Day 2: 6-14 (32nd place)
It's definitely a gamble to bank everything above the bridge [Highway 12 bridge], but it used to be that if you could weigh five largemouths a day from up there, you were going to be fishing all weekend. Beaver Lake has changed a lot since the old days, though. Now a mixed bag from anywhere on the lake will win if they're good fish. Still, I went up there because it suits my style of fishing.
The first day in this tournament, I caught a 5-12 up the White River and didn't see anybody else fishing my stuff. The second day, there were three boats. I wouldn't say fishing pressure hurt me, though. The fish were just moving around. Maybe it was a timing thing, and I was just running my milk run out of sync a little. Mainly I was fishing outside the bushes and on flat points with a Wiggle Wart and a square-bill. The fish were moving; I guess they were beginning to move toward where they're going to spawn.
Day 1: 16-02 (1st place)
Day 2: 9-10 (8th place)
Day 3: 10-07 (11th place)
My first day was great, but it wasn't so much anything I did. It was just one of those magical days where every decision you make is the right one and you can't seem to do anything wrong. Everywhere I stopped I caught good keepers throwing a Damiki 6.5 Finesse Miki on a shaky head, or else fishing a swimbait. I never lost any fish all week, but I just couldn't get on the right kind of fish after that first day. Still, any time you can average more than 10 pounds a day on Beaver, you're doing some good. When the tournament started, it seemed like the fish were just in certain places, but then after the weather started warming up it turned into more of a pattern style of fishing.
Day 1: 14-10 (5th place)
Day 2: 9-13 (11th place)
Day 3: 4-12 (19th place)
Honestly, I just made poor adjustments; that's the story about it. I blamed a lack of wind on day two, but then on day three they were doing the same thing - just following the bait back to the boat without committing. A lot of lakes you go to, experience teaches you things about them that you can use next time. Beaver Lake, I don't know; it's one of those places where you're probably just better off fishing the moment and not trying to figure out things based on what happened before. I should have moved around more and tried different things, but long story short, I was getting enough followers to keep me casting. I alternated between a jerkbait and a soft swimbait: textbook Beaver Lake lures and presentations for that time of year and situation - or they should have been.