UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Lake Wylie

Rookie on a roll

Rookie on a roll
Rookie Drew Benton takes the lead after day one at the Walmart FLW Tour on Beaver Lake with 18-1.

ROGERS, Ark. - Most of the dock talk this morning hinted at the fact the fish would be chomping today. Most of the guys knew that as long as the wind and clouds hung around from the recent cold front that hit the area the fishing would be good. The lead changed hands throughout the weigh-in until a young rookie from Florida came out strong to lead the Walmart FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake.

Drew Benton of Panama City, Fla., was already having a tremendous year. He won the first tour stop on Okeechobee and took home a top 20 just a month ago on Smith Lake. There have been similar events played out by rookies in years past from names like Bobby Lane, Thrift and of course Ehrler. Judging by the start Benton has in this tournament, this could be another year that plays in favor of a rookie.

His practice was marginal at best, though on the last day he had a few decent bites he shook off. Today, he found out just what those bites were - 18 pounds, 1 ounce worth of Beaver Lake bass and moving him into the driver's seat for the event.

"I caught a ton of keepers today," said Benton. "I probably caught over 20 keepers today. I ran all the way up the river and didn't have anyone else fishing where I was."

Benton experienced what many of the other anglers did today by catching fish quick early in the day while the clouds stuck around. The only thing for Benton was he figured out how to catch them even once the sun popped out. Though, the majority of his better bites came early on.

Another factor that many were waiting to see in this tournament was just how big of a role the A-rig would play. Benton was one of the dozens of anglers chucking the rig today. The difference for him though is throwing a rig that nobody else is using. He elected to keep that a secret for the time being in order to keep every advantage he can.

"I'm just covering lots of water and fishing stuff that looks good. It's a pattern deal so I just try to find areas that look the same as where I have confidence."

So will the A-rig bite last or was it a one-hit wonder?

"I'm confident I can go out and catch a limit tomorrow, but not sure about the big bites. I guess we will see how it goes."

Coulter second

Brandon Coulter is in second place after day one with 17-3Also committed to the A-rig game is Brandon Coulter of Knoxville, Tenn., who brought in 17 pounds, 3 ounces to take the second-place position.

"This place (Beaver Lake) has never been kind to me," said Coulter. "I have always struggled to catch them here."

Coulter found a good concentration of fish during the first day of practice and decided to leave them alone for the remaining practice days. When he returned there today, it was on.

"I was fortunate to fish banks that didn't look like much," Coulter added. "I didn't have much traffic around me today. The banks I fished were places I had seen fish spawning on in the past. It seemed like everywhere I went in that creek they just bit. I had a limit in about 15 minutes, and the bulk of my weight in the first three hours. Once the sun came out though, the bite shut down. All of these fish were pretty much in three mile stretch of the lake."

Coulter is a big fan of throwing the controversial umbrella rig on a lake not normally so kind to him.

"When you can get a 5- or 6-pound bite on this lake why would you throw anything else," said the Tennessee resident. "I never even thought about throwing something else. Why would you want to take a bait like that out of play?"


His umbrella rig of choice this week is a version that features nine arms. Coulter adds six 3-inch Sawamura OneUp Shads to the rig along with four 4-inch OneUp Shads. He has three rods on the deck of his Ranger - all of which have the nine rig featuring various colors of swimbaits.

Following the train of thought Benton is taking, Coulter doesn't feel overly confident about the day tomorrow.

"I'm going to need to go looking tomorrow. I'm not too optimistic and I know it will be tougher. Tomorrow is a different day on Beaver and I'm just going to work as hard as I can."

Blaukat third

Randy Blaukat caught a 6-pound, 1-ounce Beaver Lake largemouth Thursday, the largest bass of the day in the Pro Division. Probably one of the biggest surprises of the day is that Ozark-impoundment guru Randy Blaukat caught 17 pounds of bass without having to throw the A-rig. He did have a rig tied on, but it never left his rod locker today.

"I have been fishing the Alabama rig back home and catching them pretty good on it," said Blaukat. "I tried it this week in practice when I was around areas that I knew held fish but I just couldn't get them to bite it."

Having fished Beaver Lake since he was a young boy, Blaukat decided to fish the moment today.

"I know the best areas of the lake so I just fished them cold today," the Joplin, Mo., native said. "I didn't even practice on most of the areas I fished. I focused more on where the wind was today. I even caught my big fish off of an area with some runoff coming into the lake."

Blaukat went a more traditional method to attack prespawn Beaver Lake bass, he threw a jerkbait and a crankbait. And despite the numerous big fish falling victim to the umbrella rig, Blaukat's crankbait produced the 3M ScotchBlue Big Bass Award with a 6-1 largemouth.

The Bridgford Foods pro even managed to weigh in the Beaver Lake trifecta - a smallmouth, a few largemouth and a few spotted bass. According to Blaukat about 90 percent of the fish he caught today came off of places that he never even looked at in practice. He also said that he culled out a 10- to 12-pound limit throughout the day.

With tomorrow forecasting wind and sun, Blaukat hopes that he can keep the ball rolling.

"I need to wind to blow 20 miles per hour to have it make a difference in some of the places I'm fishing. I know I'll need to change or adapt tomorrow, but that is how this lake is. You need to fish the conditions on Beaver and keep an open mind. I just plan to go out and go fishing."

Chandler, Wilson tied in fourth

Ryan Chandler is tied for 4th after day one with 16-11After hauling an impressive 16 pounds, 11 ounces to the stage, Ryan Chandler of Valparaiso, Ind., sits in a tie for fourth place.

Chandler utilized the A-rig to put three of his keeper fish in the boat. The other two were caught on a Jack-It jerkbait.

Much as the same with the other top pros, Chandlers bite died around 10 a.m., right about the time the sun came out.

"I have two key areas I'm fishing," said Chandler. "None of the areas are within three miles of Prairie Creek. I'm happy with my day, 16 pounds on Beaver is a good bag any day of the week."

Though he has two primary fishing places, one of them holds better fish. Within that area lays one lone boat dock that was crucial to his success today. However, with the sunny conditions tomorrow he remains uncertain as to how it will affect his bite.

Barry Wilson fishes through a field of cedar trees Thursday afternoon.The other pro that managed to find 16 pounds, 11 ounces worth of Beaver Lake bass was Barry Wilson. Though the A-rig provided the most action for Wilson, it was not his original plan for the day.

"I had several different options going for me," said Wilson. "I had a spot for deep cranking in 20 feet of water that had some 4-pounders on it in practice but when I got there today they just weren't eating. I went to a shallow bite I had found but that didn't pan out so I went to my third area and started catching them on the A-rig."

Wilson's bite was good right when the sun popped out but promptly died around 11:30 a.m.

The Birmingham, Ala., resident ran about 15 miles from takeoff to the river today.

His plan for tomorrow is to try and get his deep fish fired up again. If that fails, he will check his shallow fish before moving on the A-rig bite.

Rest of the Best

Rounding out the top 10 pros on Beaver Lake after day one:

6th: Jim Tutt of Longview, Texas, five bass, 16-6
7th: Christopher Brasher of Hallsville, Texas, five bass, 15-14
8th: Roland Martin of Naples, Fla., five bass, 15-6
9th: Scott Canterbury of Springville, Ala., five bass, 15-5
9th: Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, S.C., five bass, 15-5
9th: Austin Terry of San Angelo, Texas, five bass 15-5

Seaborn leaps to co-angler lead

Co-angler Benjie Seaborn leads the way with only four bass that weighed a hefty 16 pounds, 1 ounce. Benjie Seaborn of Guin, Ala., had a stellar day on the lake today. Not only was his 16-pound, 1-ounce sack impressive, especially for Beaver, but Seaborn did it with only four bass.

Seaborn threw an umbrella rig to produce the four keeper bites he had. He tried several other baits throughout the day but none produced like the umbrella rig. While he never had the fifth keeper bite on, Seaborn did catch a short spotted bass and a 3-pound walleye.

He said he owes his day to his pro Terry Seagraves for putting him on the fish.

Meador in second

Sitting 2 pounds, 9 ounces behind the leader is Steven Meador of Bella Vista, Ark., who caught a limit that weighed 13-8.

Meador caught his fish on a variety of different baits today.

Rest of the Best

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers on Beaver Lake after day one:

3rd: Rommel Bagay of Pleasant Hill, Calif., five bass, 13-6
4th: David Lashua of Leesburg, Fla., four bass, 13-0
5th: David Lauer of Loxahatchee, Fla., five bass, 12-10
6th: Mark Horton of Nicholasville, Ky., five bass, 12-5
7th: Richard Peek of Centre, Ala., five bass, 11-11
8th: Jason Johnson of Gainesville, Ga., five bass, 11-8
9th: Terry Chapman of Newberry, S.C., four bass, 11-4
10th: Ed Knight of Little Rock, Ark., five bass, 11-1

Bobby McMullin of Pevely, Mo., caught a 6-pound, 7-ounce largemouth to win the 3M Peltor Big Bass Award for day one for the co-anglers.

Day two of the Walmart FLW Tour will begin at 7 a.m. from Prairie Creek Park located at 9300 N. Park Road in Rogers, Ark.

Tags: kyle-wood  headline-story  2013-04-11-beaver-lake 

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