Solid finish at Beaver Lake

The third of six FLW Tour bass tournaments took place this past weekend at Beaver Lake in northwest Arkansas.
After struggling at the first two events, I had a good practice for this one and ended up with a solid 45th-place finish, which netted me $10,000.
The goal in these FLW events is to finish in the top 50 because they pay big money down to that position.
One thing I’m learning about fishing down here is that these guys are animals. It’s amazing how so many of them find big fish and figure out how to catch them.
I can just about guarantee you that there is nothing on any of these lakes that goes unturned.
As I noted last week, I had a pretty good practice and figured out that I could catch fish better on a suspending jerkbait than any other type of lure. I could get a few to bite small hair jigs and soft plastics, but the jerkbait was my deal and put all 10 of my weigh fish in the boat during the tournament.
Specifically, I was using a Jackall Squad Minnow 115 jerkbait, which is the same lure used to win the $500,000 first-place prize at the Bassmasters Classic earlier this winter.
Following the reports online through the practice period last week, predictions were that it was going to take 11 or 12 pounds per day to make the top 20 cut to fish on Day 3.
I was catching that during the practice, so I felt pretty good about what I was doing.
But after having warm temperatures throughout practice, with highs in the 20s C every day, we got hammered with a massive cold front the first day of the tournament. Temperatures were right at freezing in the mornings and I wasn’t sure what effect this would have on the fish.
When the tournament started, my strategy of fishing the jerkbait still was working. I caught my five-fish limit in the first hour in the morning so the pressure was off pretty quick.
The thing that hurt me—and I need to take this into account at future events—is that a lot of the little spots and stretches that I wanted to fish had other anglers fishing them. In fact, the majority of them did.
I don’t think many of them were fishing a jerkbait like I was, so I was able to pull some fish off of spots that other anglers fished. But as the tournament went on, I started to get more and more fish follow and just nip at my bait.
I lost several fish that would have helped me each day of the tournament.
This was a result of the fish just nipping at the bait and, I think, I was just hooking them on the outside of the mouth and not really sticking them very good.
It probably was a combination of the cold weather and the angler pressure that caused the fish to be a little more sluggish.
All in all, though, I’m happy with this event. As it turned out, my two-day total was 22 pounds, which most years is a really good weight for this lake but it landed me in 45th place.
Beaver is a lake the FLW has visited 15 of the past 18 years, so most of the anglers have fished several tournaments here. At the start of the season, this was the one tournament that scared me the most for that reason but I learned a bunch and would be comfortable fishing there again if the Tour makes another stop there.
The reason they come here so often is that it is the home of Wal-Mart, the title sponsor of the Tour.
Back at home, meanwhile, it looks like we’ll still be fishing on the ice for a few more weeks. Although the walleye season is closed now, we still can chase lake trout, crappies, and pike.
I love targeting big pike late in the season! Look for my latest ice-fishing report next week!