High water level wreaks havoc

The fifth stop of the 2017 FLW Tour took place last week at Beaver Lake, Ark. and it seems like I officially have got myself a little slump going.
After a solid Day 1 that landed me in 36th place, my Day 2 limit was much lighter and I left Arkansas with a 70th-place finish–my third-straight finish in the 70s.
Not good.
As I have said in previous columns, we get points based on where we finish in each event towards qualifying for the season-ending championship, the Forrest Wood Cup. The top 35 anglers in the 165-angler field qualify for the Cup.
I’m still hanging inside the cut in 26th place thanks to my good finishes in the first two events, but the pressure is now on to finish off strong in the last two.
Last year went really good and I was able to cash a cheque at each regular-season event, finishing fifth overall in the points race.
But it’s been much more of a grind for me this year and there now is quite a bit of added pressure to have a good tournament at the next one, which takes place in two weeks on the Mississippi River out of La Crosse, Wis.
Between now and then, I’m going to do as much as I can to prepare for that event.
At Beaver Lake, we were faced with water rising extremely fast because of heavy rains the Ozarks region received prior to us arriving and again while we were there. In all, more than 12 inches of rain fell–causing the lake to rise more than 10 feet in the time we were there.
My three-day practice for this event went pretty good. Beaver Lake is notorious for tough fishing, with mostly smaller-sized bass. I have had success there using light line and finesse baits, for the most part, and that was my strategy again this time.
I was catching fish around a specific type of rock and it was a pattern that I could use all over the lake, so I was excited for the tournament to start.
On the first day of the tournament last Thursday, the fishing was not nearly as good as the practice was for me, but I managed to catch a few nice fish and brought in a decent limit.
On Day 2, I was confident my finesse tactics would be able to get me a decent finish and hopefully earn a cheque. In the end, however, a lot of the fish moved from my rocks up into the newly-flooded bushes and trees along the bank.
It was my first time experiencing rapidly-rising water in one of these events, so I sort of missed what was happening.
I was disappointed because I knew these fish would move shallow but I just tried to grind it out doing what I was doing. Instead, I needed to be more open-minded and versatile.
It was an 18-hour drive home to Kenora from Rogers, Ark. so I had plenty of time to consider my poor decisions on the long drive home.
My roommate on the road for these tournaments, Brandon McMillan from Florida, made much wiser decisions than me and moved shallow. He ended up having a great tournament, finishing in ninth place, so I was really happy for him.
While back home, I’m planning to spend a few days in the boat catching a bunch of bass out on Lake of the Woods to try and get my fishing back on track so I will be ready to go in Wisconsin in a couple of weeks.

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