UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Erie

Beaver Lake big-fish parade

Beaver Lake big-fish parade
Pro leader Ron Shuffield holds up his two biggest bass from day three on Beaver Lake.

ROGERS, Ark. - During practice, there were rumors that Beaver Lake had the potential to produce a 20-pound stringer this week. The first two days of the Walmart FLW Tour event failed to live up to expectations in that regard. But on a bone-chilling day three, Bryan Thrift surpassed the coveted mark. Amazingly, he didn't even assume the tournament lead.

EverStart pro Ron Shuffield didn't catch 20 pounds, but he wasn't far behind. His 18-10 was enough to push him to the top of the leaderboard with a three-day total of 41 pounds, 6 ounces. Shuffield finished second last year on Table Rock in similar conditions. This year he won't have Brent Ehrler and his magic honeyhole to contend with.

"It was frigid, it was windy, it was cloudy and it was the kind of day going in that I thought was an opportunity to catch a pretty good sack of fish," said Shuffield, who has seven BASS wins. "These Ozark fish tend to bite a little bit better in these conditions than they do on a bright, clear bluebird day. So I was optimistic.

"I had a new area that I practiced in but had not fished during the event," Shuffield added. "It had all the ingredients of what I was looking for. And I could tell it hadn't been touched."

Shuffield said he had most of his keepers by 9:15 a.m. After that, he spent the day running and looking for a particular stretch of bank that has shorter, smaller rock formations. Above all, he's trying to fish cover that isn't obvious and hasn't been pounded during the first three days of the tournament.

"I'm trying to fish new water every day. And most of these are one-fish places so I'm trying not to repeat stuff. These fish are trying to move into their spawn areas, so they're staging halfway to the backs of the coves. One will be on a laydown and one will be on a rock formation that's isolated all by itself. That's the kind of stuff these fish are keying on."

The Bismarck, Ark., native said he's keeping three rods ready on the deck. One has a Storm Wiggle Wart tied on and the other two feature Megabass Vision 110 jerkbaits.

"The jerkbait has accounted for a little more than half of my fish, but the occasional Wart fish seem to be the bigger ones. I think the fish have seen so many jerkbaits this week in competition that they're starting to shy away from it."

Shuffield is hoping tomorrow's forecast of sunny skies and calm winds is inaccurate. He's fishing water 20 feet deep and at times he can see the lake bottom.

"I'm doing everything I can not to spook these fish. I'm laying off the trolling motor, turning locaters off, etc."

Shuffield said he plans to go down swinging with the same three rods even if the conditions are less than ideal. He thinks it's his best chance at a long-coveted FLW Tour win.

"I want to win one of these so bad. And to do it, you've got to fish flawlessly. For these last two days, I've been flawless. If it is calm and sunny, I'll need to get two or three quick. Once the sun comes up my bite gets very tough."

Thrift lurking

Bryan Thrift was so shocked about catching back-to-back 4 pounders on Beaver Lake he had to show them off for the camera.Thrift, the reigning FLW Tour Angler of the Year, is officially on the prowl. After catching 8-11 and 11-6 the first two days, the Chevy pro blew the door open today with a 20-pound, 8-ounce limit, the largest stringer ever caught at an FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake.

"On my third cast this morning I caught a 4 1/2-pounder and that really got me dialed in," said the Shelby, N.C., pro. "At 9 a.m. I made a move to a shallow rock pile on a point and caught two 3 3/4-pounders on back-to-back casts. Then I moved off it for a bit and came back and caught another 4-pounder."

In 15 minutes, Thrift had accumulated nearly 12 pounds of Beaver Lake bass off one spot. At 12:30 p.m. he caught another 4-pounder and was done for the day.

"I'm fishing a jerkbait hard and fast. Every single one I caught today came in water waist deep."

Thrift then reflected on his latest amazing performance.

"I'm happy but I screwed up the first day with only three fish. That could really cost me."

Arey, King tied for third

Matt Arey fights a 3-pounder to the boat.Tied for third place is North Carolina pro Matt Arey and Missouri veteran Stacey King with 35 pounds, 10 ounces. Both anglers are mainly using jerkbaits. While Arey is sorting through a ton of fish, King is only getting a few quality bites. In fact, King achieved his 12-pound, 5-ounce weight on only four fish while Arey caught roughly 30 keepers.

Arey is throwing the Megabass Vision 110 jerkbait and giving it a unique pop (pulls in the air) halfway through the cast.

"I'm looking for that real fast, erratic motion. It's amazing, I got only four bites in practice and now I've turned it into 40-60 bites per day."

Arey finished fifth at Beaver back in 2008 under very different conditions as the lake was warm and flooded.

"I have plenty of fish left, I just don't know if I have the quality. It's fun but at the same time it's frustrating."

King said like Shuffield, he expects tomorrow to be a much slower jerkbait day.
Pro Stacey King is tied for third place with a total weight of 35 pounds, 10 ounces.
"That high-pressure system will make it tougher. That's why only catching four today really hurt me. I'm sure by the end of tomorrow it will really hurt."

Lefebre to fifth

After leading the first day of the tournament, Frosted Flakes pro Dave Lefebre fell to fifth. His day-three stringer weighed 7 pounds, 6 ounces and consisted of only four bass.

Lefebre is fishing a classic prespawn gang-up spot. He makes precise casts to a tree sandwiched between two giant boulders in 20-25 feet of water.

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros at the FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake:

6th: Randy Blaukat of Joplin, Mo., 33-11
7th: Justin Lucas of Guntersville, Ala., 33-6
8th: Stetson Blaylock of Benton, Ark., 31-13
9th: Wesley Strader of Spring City, Tenn., 31-12
10th: David Dudley of Lynchburg, Va., 31-4

Day four of the FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake will begin Sunday at 7 a.m. at Prairie Creek Park located at 9300 N. Park Rd. in Rogers.

Tags: brett-carlson  headline-story  2011-03-03-beaver-lake 

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