Good way to end trip

The fourth FLW Tour event of the six-event season took place this past weekend at Beaver Lake in Rogers, Ark.
After a tough start to the season for me, with triple-digit finishes at the first two events, I was looking to start some sort of streak of finishing in the money after a decent tournament two weeks ago at the Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Texas.
The Rogers area is corporate home to Walmart, the title sponsor of the FLW Tour, and Beaver Lake has been a stop on the Tour for 15 of the past 16 years.
Though not known for big bass catches that can be had at other lakes the Tour stops, it’s a good tournament lake because it is always different from year to year.
As well, there is a gin-clear section of the lake, up near the dam, a mid-section of the lake near Rogers that has some stain to it, and a river section with muddy water. So there are a lot of variables to keep the anglers on their toes when trying to figure out the smallmouth, largemouth, and spotted bass that inhabit Beaver Lake.
After having a pretty good tournament last year at Beaver Lake and finishing in the money, I had some confidence heading into the derby. Of all the lakes that I get to fish in the southern U.S. for these tournaments, Beaver is the most similar to ours at home as far as having clear water, as well as the need for light line and finesse tactics that we use quite often around Sunset Country.
Over the course of the three-day practice period, I had some really good glimmers of hope but also plenty of lulls—indicating this event was not going to be easy, which is typical of Beaver Lake.
I spent most of my first day fishing the same area that I did last year and never caught a single bass until 4:30 p.m. I had launched my boat in the dark that morning, so it was a long day.
It became apparent I was going to have to find some different water to fish than I did last year. On my way back to the launch, I found a few good stretches of shoreline, where I was able to catch some nice fish on a suspending jerkbait.
The second day of practice went really well. I fished some new water close to the take-off area and caught a number of nice largemouths on a crankbait, so I was starting to get excited for the tournament to start.
I expanded on this area near the take-off on the third and final practice day, and was able to find a couple of more areas that I thought would be productive.
After wearing long underwear and all of the warm clothes I had during practice, a strong south wind blew on the first day of the tournament—warming things up significantly.
By day’s end, I was wearing a T-shirt, shorts, and sandals (it just never fails that the conditions change drastically whenever these events take place).
My first day went pretty good and my 10.14-pound limit landed me in 47th place, inside the top 60 range that pays $10,000. Going into Day 2, my goal was to try to catch another 10 pounds and I likely would stay in the big cheque range.
The windy weather the first day helped my jerkbait bite and I caught quite a few fish. On Day 2, however, things were completely different and there was zero wind.
After catching a limit relatively quickly in the morning that would go around seven pounds, some pressure was off. But I also knew that I needed to upgrade a few fish.
Over the course of the day, the bite almost completely shut down for me and I was not able to upgrade my fish other than an ounce here and there. I ended up getting more follows from fish than bites, which is typical with jerkbaits when the wind is not blowing.
The wind just seems to make the fish less suspicious and more likely to bite.
My Day 2 limit of 7.13 pounds was not what I was hoping for. I also had an early weigh-in number on Day 2, so it was a long couple of hours for me—waiting to see if I would stay in the top 60 or not.
It came down to the wire but I ended up finishing in 59th place and just squeaked in for a $10,000 cheque! A good way to end three weeks on the road!
My wife, August, flew down to Arkansas last week to watch this event, so it was fun for her to meet some of my friends who also fish the FLW and it was nice for me to have a driving buddy for the long ride back to Canada.
We had fun!
Now I’m really looking forward to some relaxation around home over the next few weeks!