Some see nothing but gloom and doom when they look at high, muddy water in Beaver Lake. Others have a more optimistic view.
High water is good for the fish spawn, particularly black bass and crappie. That means good fishing in the future.
The lake filled to the brim in time to create excellent spawning conditions, said Jon Stein, Northwest Arkansas fisheries biologist with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
“Anytime we get a high water spring like this, it makes survival that much higher,” Stein said.
Acres of newly flooded bushes, grass and timber give newly hatched fish shelter from predators. More will grow to be adult fish.
That is, as long as the lake stays high into summer. This will be a gangbuster spawn for black bass and crappie in particular, if the lake stays high at least until mid-July, Stein said. Chances are good that it will. The way the Army Corps of Engineers operates the White River reservoirs, Table Rock gets lowered first, then Bull Shoals and then Beaver. Table Rock and Bull Shoals are both high.
A full Beaver Lake is good for the spawn, but it can make catching fish harder. The fish are out there. Figuring out how to get bit is the challenge.
Pro anglers at the FLW Tour bass tournament at Beaver April 27-30 had advice for local bass fishermen. On the weigh-in stage, some said they caught bass by fishing where the shoreline was before the lake came up. That would be about 15 feet deep right now. Most who fished deep said they used plastic worms or tube baits.
Others worked the newly flooded cover of the shallow water with top-water lures and spinner baits. The better catches were deep.
Word from the fishing grapevine is that crappie are 15 to 20 feet deep as well, about where the shoreline was before the water came up. The Prairie Creek area is a good place to try.
Wherever a fishermen roams on Beaver Lake, keep an eye out for debris, especially south of the Arkansas 12 bridge.
Anglers who like to fish the White River below Beaver Dam shouldn’t abandon it even though Table Rock Lake is backed far up the river. Years ago I fished the river with Lisa Mullins and Rich Carlsen of Eureka Springs one spring when the water was backed up.
No one was coming to fish, they said, because anglers wrongly figured high water had shut down the fishing. Not so. We had a great day catching trout and walleye by trolling Rapala crank baits.
Fish can be caught at Beaver Lake and below the dam, but anglers who don’t like the high water conditions have plenty of options. The smaller lakes in Northwest Arkansas are in good shape. All are worth a little rod and reel investigation.
Lake Sequoyah, Lake Fayetteville, Lincoln Lake, Bob Kidd Lake, Siloam Springs Lake, Lake Hindsville and others are fine waters to fish anytime. This spring they offer a respite to fishermen who don’t like Beaver Lake or the Beaver tailwater when they’re high.
Catfish fanatics at Beaver ought to be dancing a jig. The full lake is ideal for running limb lines to catch a mess of catfish now that the water is up in the trees.
Flip Putthoff can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @NWAFlip