Beaver Lake is known for its’ daily condition changes so preparing for the third stop of the FLW Tour was a little difficult. The word on the water was that we were going to be dealing with pre-spawn and spawning fish and 3 different water conditions. Due to extreme flood conditions this year a good portion of the lake was uncharacteristically stained. We would have to plan for dirty water in the rivers and creeks, mid lake stained water, and clear water in the southern portion of lake. Having fished the lake in the 2014 season I had a reasonable idea of what to expect but, as with any of the FLW Tour events, I would have to adapt to the conditions that my Pro partner would be fishing.
The first day pairings identified that I would be spending day 1 with Tony Dumitras. Based on my discussion with Tony, I was going to have to plan for just about anything and pack a little bit of everything. This always proves to be a difficult task. Trying to skinny down my tackle to 4 Plano boxes and few bags of soft plastics is the first of several decisions that must be made before I would even get on the water. As a co-angler on the FLW Tour you are limited to 7 rods and tackle bag. I am typically amazed by how much tackle I can stuff into my medium sized tackle bag. Of course the zippers on the bag have the appearance of two powerlifters pulling on either side, but I felt that I was going to have what I needed for the day. Time to get some badly needed sleep to recover from the days 13-hour drive from Columbus to Rogers, AK.
The morning greeted us with temperatures in the high 40’s. Not too cold but cool enough to require several layers of insulation. Our first stop of the day was a mid-lake area. Within the first 10 minutes Tony had boated a smallmouth pushing the 4lb range. This was encouraging to me, but unfortunately it was encouraging to Tony as well. I say this because he caught the fish while paralleling a bluff wall which greatly reduces the amount of fishable water left available. About 3 hours into the day I boated the second fish (non-keeper) on a Wiggle Wart making long casts behind the boat. Then I boated the third, fourth, and fifth fish (all shorts). After passing the mid-day mark without a keeper the pressure starts to work against you. Was I not throwing the right color bait, working it too fast or too slow, too deep too shallow. I didn’t succumb to my own mind games and decided to stick with the behind the boating cranking pattern. Not too long thereafter I finally boated my first keeper of the day on the Wiggle Wart. Although it was only a 1 lb. spotted bass, that little fish relieved me of the zero monkey I was wearing for about 5 hours.
We ended the day going to scales with less than impressive bags. The walk of shame had come. I hate that walk, but learned long ago that you have be humbled every so often in order to appreciate the good days much more. Tony ended up with 3 keepers and I could only muster up 1. Some co-anglers will spend their time complaining about how their Pro partner fished too fast, too slow, too deep, too close to the bank, etc. etc. I can’t say that I don’t do a little complaining myself, but that is what we are up against when we sign up for these events. I am ultimately here to learn something that will help carry me to the next level. These Pros are fishing for a much bigger purse and have much more invested, so I certainly appreciate the fact that they need to do what they need to do to try and put themselves in a winning position.
I was paired with Craig Livesay for Day 2. We began the day fishing within eyesight of the boat ramp. We hit three different points and within 2 hours I had boated 3 respectable keepers on a 1/16 oz. shaky head coupled with a watermelon red Zoom Trick Worm. Life was good! With no fish in the box Craig decided to make the run to the dam area to try and locate some bedding fish. This move put me into the situation that I had originally planned for at Beaver lake. Crystal clear water with standing timber is a staple on the lake and I felt at home in this area. Chris’ first stop welcomed him with a respectable largemouth bass on the bed. While he was working the fish I managed to haul in another keeper spotted bass and about 4 other non-keepers on Ned Rig with a 3” BPS Bluegill Flash Stick “O”. Chris had to give up on the fish he was working on and started down the bank. I landed a few more non-keeper spots along the way on the Ned Rig. Chris boated his first fish of the day on a borrowed Ned rig that I gave him. We abandoned the clear water area and went to a mid-lake windblown point that Chris had caught fish on in practice. This is about the time that my day fell apart. I lost my first fish of tournament and broke off 2 others. The final 2 hours of the day I didn’t get 1 bite and watched Chris boat 3 nice fish on a green pumpkin tube.
Going to the scales this time was a little more uplifting, but deep down I felt that I should have brought a limit to the stage. This day further solidified that execution on the water is just as important as finding the fish and getting the bites. You can find them and get them to bite but if you don’t execute properly you won’t be taking them for a ride.
After the weigh in it was time to begin our journey back home. Another tournament down, good friends made, and another opportunity to enjoy God’s great creation.