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May 28, 2019 Comments Off on High water challenges anglers at Beaver Lake Featured, Fishing

High water challenges anglers at Beaver Lake

Bank full Beaver Lake brings new conditions for anglers

FLIP PUTTHOFF
NWA Democrat-Gazette

Anglers beat the bushes to get a bite at Beaver Lake when the water level is as high as it is now.

Ample rain has raised the lake to a level that’s almost as full as it can get. The lake sits now at about 1,126 feet above sea level. Four feet higher and water can spill over the flood gates at Beaver Dam.

When the reservoir fills so high, it typically stays that way through much of summer. Black bass and crappie love flooded cover, but so much of it brings different fishing conditions than when the lake is lower.

Even the best anglers can be perplexed.

Mitch Glenn of Garfield scanned a shoreline of flooded bushes and timber in the Rocky Branch area of the lake when he hit the water on May 16, a warm and sunny Thursday. He’s been fishing Beaver Lake since 1979.

NWA Democrat-Gazette/FLIP PUTTHOFF
Beaver Lake is at a high level and may stay that way into summer. Glenn works a plastic worm May 16 2019 around flooded bushes and stumps in the Rocky Branch area of the lake.

“This is all going to be like a new lake to me,” Glenn said.

He hadn’t had a chance to fish at Beaver since the lake filled up starting in March.

It goes to show that if one likes to fish a lot, don’t get into the tackle business. Glenn and his wife, Scherry, own Pico lures in Garfield. Glenn is also national sales representative for Crème lures of Tyler, Texas. Working in the fishing industry keeps him plenty busy.

Cast by cast, Glenn unraveled the high-water puzzle. He beat the bushes, all right, swinging a bass or two into his boat every now and then. That’s slow fishing in Glenn’s eyes.

“On a big water rise, these bass will live between where the old shoreline was before the lake came up and the newly flooded bushes,” he said.

Plastic worms or swim baits rigged weedless are good for working the bushes. “You can throw them right into the middle of that thick stuff,” he coached.

On this day, most of his catch came from deeper water, in front of the bushes in water six to eight feet deep. Plastic worms worked best for these bass.

Glenn keeps an eye on bushes for schools of bluegill finning in the shallow bushes, “and there’s a ton of them right there,” he pointed out. “Those are all bluegill on spawning beds.”

Big bass can be prowling nearby to ambush an easy bluegill meal.

NWA Democrat-Gazette/FLIP PUTTHOFF
Glenn snatched this crappie from Beaver Lake May 16 2019 with a jig. Trolling crank baits is another effective way to catch crappie in late spring and long into summer.

“Bass will stay around these bushes until the water temperature hits about 80 degrees,” Glenn said, “but that won’t be until about the middle of June. Then they’ll come up into the bushes at night. That’s when you can have some real fun casting a black spinner bait.”

Points and pockets are good places to try when bass make their home in the bushes and brush.

Hat-flipping gusts of south wind kicked up around noon. Instead of seeking calmer waters, Glenn motored to a windy shoreline on the main lake. Waves topped with white caps beat the bank and muddied the water. Some anglers shun the mud, but Glenn heads right for it.

“Fish come to it because the waves stir stuff up. Crawdads, things like that,” he said.

Glenn fired a spinner bait into the brown water, working it around some timber. Bingo! A bass nailed it, then another.

“There’s another tip. Never pass up a mud line on Beaver Lake,” he testified while unhooking a 13-inch spotted bass.

Crappie give Glenn a major case of fishing fever. He used a jig to pluck a couple from a deep brush pile he located with his depth finder. Trolling with crank baits is the best way to catch them starting in late May, Glenn said.

Creek arms with some timber are good places to troll. Gravel flats are good and easy to find. Look for gently sloping gravel shorelines, then troll parallel to shore with a crank bait that runs 10 to 20 feet deep.

“The best thing is to use your depth finder to find out how deep the shad are, then use a crank bait that reaches that depth,” he said.

NWA Democrat-Gazette/FLIP PUTTHOFF
Good lures for high-water bass fishing May 16 2019 include a Pico Pop top-water lure (from left) Creme Reel Screamer swim bait, Creme tube worm, Pico shallow-diving crank bait and a jig coupled with a Creme Speed Screamer trailer.

A depth finder is handy, but not needed, Glenn added.

“It’s so simple. All a person needs is a boat, a fishing pole, a crank bait and a desire to go do it.”

Glenn’s best high-water fishing tip also cuts to the chase.

“Keep fishing, covering water until something happens.”

Perseverance paid off. By midafternoon when he called it a day, a nice mess of spotted bass and crappie finned in his livewell.