Tough weekend at Beaver Lake this time around

The third stop on the FLW Tour took place last week at Beaver Lake in Rogers, Ark. (Rogers is the home base for the Tour’s title sponsor, Walmart, and the FLW makes Beaver an annual stop on its schedule).
My past two trips to this lake went pretty good and I was able to leave with some money. But my luck ran out last week, when I took an 80th-place finish and left with my tail between my legs.
Beaver Lake has clear water and probably fishes more like the lakes we have up north than any of the other southern reservoirs that I get to fish for these tournaments, so I feel comfortable fishing there.
There are smallmouth bass in Beaver, as well—the only lake on the schedule this year where we actually can target them.
Over the course of the three-day practice period before the tournament, I caught some nice smallmouths and decided I would spend my time targeting them in the actual tournament.
In the past, I’ve only caught a few smallmouths at Beaver, mostly incidental, while I’ve been fishing. But this time around, I figured out they were hanging around the many pea gravel points in the north end of the lake.
While spotted bass are much more plentiful at Beaver, they don’t generally get as big.
At Beaver Lake, although there are a lot of fish, there are not a lot of big fish. This complicates things because largemouth and smallmouth bass need to be 15 inches long to keep while spotted bass only need to be 12 inches.
That being said, to do well in the tournament, you need to catch 15-inch plus fish so that’s what you need to look for.
The past two times that we’ve been here, I’ve been able to fish with a suspending jerkbait and catch good numbers of spots while usually mixing in a decent largemouth or smallmouth here and there.
But that has been in early April. Last week, there were a lot of fish spawning on Beaver Lake, but I figured I could catch big fish fishing out deeper so that is where I directed my focus.
Alas, something changed during the tournament and the smallmouths I was looking for evidently had moved on. I barely scraped up a limit each day of just over eight pounds to finish where I did.
Each day I had to weigh in one very small spotted bass that weighed under a pound, so that hurt.
If I would have caught one big fish either day over three pounds, I would have finished in the money and it would have been a great week. That’s how close things were.
Even though the fish are small, it’s a fun lake to fish a tournament on because there is a lot of water and fish can be caught on a variety of techniques. Looking back, I probably should have spent more time looking for fish on spawning nests, which is what most of the top finishers were doing.
I guess I’ll just keep learning the hard way and move on to the next one—that’s fishing!
I’m looking forward to getting home for a couple of weeks, then I’m headed back to Lake Eufaula, Ala. in mid-May for the next event.
It won’t be long now until all of our lakes across Sunset Country have open water. I can’t wait!