By Flip Putthoff
A change of seasons brings a change in the fishing at Beaver Lake.
The catching can be tough when the water is bath-water warm in August. Fish don’t eat much and are slow to bite. Fast forward to autumn. The cooler water is like a wake-up call in that silent, underwater world.
Anglers such as Dwayne Culmer who fish for black bass in the summer will testify that sometimes you can’t pry a fish’s mouth open with a crowbar. He’s catching more fish now that the water’s cooler.
“Once it got down to 70 degrees, that seemed to do it,” said Culmer, who fishes the Rocky Branch area of the Beaver Lake.
He’s happy to catch a bass or two on summer trips. In autumn, his catch can number in the double digits. That was the case on a recent sun-splashed but cool Friday.
Culmer got an ice cream headache motoring down the lake on the 40-degree morning and pulled a stocking cap down over his noggin.
Steep bluff banks are his regular targets in the fall. Culmer knows every rock and tree in the Van Winkle Hollow arm of the lake and pointed the bow of his boat in that direction.
A peek in the boat’s storage locker during fall won’t reveal much of a lure selection. Plastic worms are his lure of choice for autumn bass fishing, and Culmer carries a wide selection.
A blue plastic worm with a narrow tail has been his favorite this fall. Culmer rigs the worm on a one-eighth-ounce, shaky-head jig and bounces the worm down a bluff’s ledges.
“Sometimes the fish are only a few inches deep, like they take it right off the top of the rocks,” he said. “You might catch them 6 inches deep or down to 20 feet.”
Little 8-inch spotted bass were the first to cooperate, and Culmer had a tough time catching those at first. After catching a half-dozen of the little guys, he made a move to a bluff on the main lake east of Rocky Branch park.
Culmer plugged away with his blue plastic worm while his buddy in the back of the boat cast a white and chartreuse spinner bait. The bass were bigger along this bluff, known as Indian Bluff, close to the old White River channel. The water here is more than 100 feet deep, but the bass hugged the bluff ledges about 10 feet deep.
Indian Bluff dazzles lake visitors during autumn. Maple and hickory trees turn the bluff into a curtain of yellow, orange and crimson from late October into early November. A bald eagle soared overhead. Culmer saw maybe three other boats in five hours of fishing.
If every fish of every size was tallied, the day’s fish count was about 15. All were spotted bass. Five of the fish were fat, football-shaped spotted bass that went into his livewell. The little ones went back in the lake.
Spotted, largemouth and smallmouth bass are the three kinds of black bass, but no largemouths or smallmouths bit on this trip.
Cooler water and a colorful autumn lake shore are a cure for the summertime fishing blues.
Bass at Beaver Lake
Largemouth and smallmouth bass must be 15 inches or longer to keep. Spotted bass of any size may be kept.
The daily limit on black bass at Beaver Lake is six.
Source: Arkansas Game and Fish Commission