What's up guys, I just finished up with the first FLW tour event on Beaver Lake in Arkansas and finished at 67th Place with a total of 12 lbs. 15 oz. for two days. This is what you would call a ultra-tough tournament and I'm glad it is behind me. I'll be driving back to Florida with a check in my pocket, I always want to win every tournament I fish but to leave Beaver Lake with a check and some points is a good feeling. Beaver Lake is a highland reservoir and has given me some grief over the years. A few years ago I did really well and almost won this tournament with the football jig fishing the ledge rock going into the spawning pockets, but this tournament was a few weeks earlier and the set up quite a bit different. Beaver lake right now is about 10 foot low and the water temperatures are hovering around 45° in the main Lake and the back of the pockets were getting up to the low 50s.
Starting off in practice I felt like a jerk bait on the clearer end of the lake down by the dam may be the most consistent area. During the first two days of practice it was tough, I mean tough… I went two solid days without a keeper bite and was starting to panic quite a bit. I knew there was a decent bite the river and stained water but it seemed like that's where everybody was going and I felt like the pressure was going to take its toll on the river. On the third day of practice I finally started figuring out that the bass are staging up on the secondary points and submerged trees leading into the spawning pockets. The jerk bait started producing and I felt like if I could get five good bites a day I could do well this tournament.
The first day of the tournament the bite was a lot tougher than I expected and I landed only three bass on the jerk bait but should've had a limit as I lost a few fish at the boat… With the cold weather the fish are not very aggressive and they barely bite the bait which made it real easy to lose them. But even with that small catch I was still in check range. Day two I started off with the jerk bait with no success started to doubt that I was going to do well in this tournament which is not something you want to start thinking about, doudt will get in your head and ruin your day. By 11 o'clock I was fish-less and needed to make a major adjustment, so I tied on a small swim bait lure called a pulsing jig by Buckeye lures, This is a great lure when the fish are suspended around trees. I rigged this up on 10 pound test line and a medium action Kistler Rod and would make long cast and count the lure down 10 to 15 seconds and slowly retrieve the lure back through the deep trees. I ended up catching four nice keepers that saved the day and ended up getting the check….Sometimes tournaments boil down to the key decisions that you have to make on the water. When fishing big tournaments you have to stay focused on what you're doing but always be thinking about what may work better if you're not catching them as good as you would like and don't be afraid to make a change during the day.
My key equipment for this tournament was my new Garmin echo 550, I was able to take this unit and look for submerged trees in 30 to 40 foot of water water with suspended fish in them. With this pattern you need a good depth finder that picks up the fish well and the Garmin performed great! Let's talk about the boat and motor a minute… Having a boat that is well-made like the Ranger is such a great feeling when you're out in bad weather because you know the boat is built right won't have any problems. The Evinrude E-TEC was great on gas this week and performed wonderful in this cold weather, in tough tournaments like this where you're running all over the lake trying to figure out what to do, having in engine that has good fuel economy is very important.
I'm off tomorrow headed to Flippin Arkansas to spend some time at the Ranger plant and film stuff for the SMC. I always like going to the Ranger plant to see everyone and check out all the new cool stuff that rangers working on. Before I forget there's a cool website called www.mydreamrig.com, this is a site that shows off some really nice Ranger boats powered by Evinrude outboard's that you should check out. Stay tuned for next weeks blog….Scott Martin