Keeping it rolling on Beaver Lake

The third stop of the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour took place over the weekend at Beaver Lake, Ark. and everything went pretty good in my boat en route to an 11th-place finish.
In what has been, far and away, my best season in four years of fishing this competitive bass-fishing circuit, things were rolling my way once again last week.
My Dad and my good buddy, Jamie Bruce, travelled down to Rogers, Ark. to compete in this event on the co-angler side and it was a lot of fun having them around all week.
They did not fare as well in the tournament but they had fun.
On the first day, my Dad was drawn to fish with famous bait designer Gary Yamamoto, owner of the Yamamoto Bait Company. On Day 2, Jamie was drawn with Troy Broussard, former star of the TV show “Swamp People” who now is making his living as a professional bass angler.
The three-day practice for this tournament went pretty good for me and my plan heading into the tournament was to try to target smallmouths that were staging on main lake points.
There was one small section of the lake with really clear water and that was where I chose to fish.
The conditions on Day 1 were much different from practice. It was almost dead calm, which was different from the strong winds we had and that seemed to hurt the smallmouth bite.
The water was super clear, you could see the bottom in 20 feet, so the lack of wind made it to easy for the fish to see the boat, I presume, and they just weren’t very active.
After a couple of hours with no keeper fish in the boat on Day 1 of the tournament, I moved farther back into the creek arm I was fishing and quickly caught a limit of spotted bass.
These were not big but they took some pressure off. Eventually, I ended up catching three good-sized largemouth bass and brought a 13-pound limit to the scales, which landed me in 25th spot after Day 1.
On Day 2, I started on my smallmouth spots but again they did not show themselves, so I quickly moved onto the largemouth program and ended up having a great day—bringing more than 14 pounds to the scales, which moved me up to 10th place heading into Day 3.
On that day, I abandoned the smallmouth plan and fished strictly for largemouths. And while I caught a decent limit, coming in just under 13 pounds, I came up a little bit short of making the cut to fish the fourth and final day—ending up with an 11th-place finish.
While it was disappointing, I still was ecstatic with another great finish. All week I battled a wicked cold and barely could talk during the first couple days of the event, so that took its toll on me a little bit during the tournament.
I’m just finally starting to feel better now.
The high finish helped me hang onto my sixth-place spot in the Angler of the Year standings. We get points based on where we finish in each event, so I’m hanging in there with the top anglers this season.
There is a $100,000 prize for the eventual Angler of the Year at the end of the six-event season, and the top 35 anglers qualify for the Forrest Wood Cup championship event in August, which is my main goal this year.
The next event is in a couple of weeks at Pickwick Lake in Alabama—a lake that I had a good tournament at back in 2014, so I’m looking forward to getting there.
In the meantime, I’m enjoying some quiet time at home this week, trying to kick this cold I’ve been carrying around.
Bring on the warm weather!

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