by Flip Putthoff
When the water at Beaver Lake starts to cool, anglers get excited about fall fishing.
Some of the area’s expert fishermen shared tips on how to catch crappie, black bass, striped bass, walleye at the lake and trout below Beaver Dam.
Here’s what they had to say:
Crappie: Peyton Usrey fishes for crappie all year at Beaver Lake. He routinely puts limits of slabs in his livewell using a variety of techniques, depending on the season.
“As the water cools, I focus on shallow structure. Think back to spring when the water gets into the 60s and low 70s when crappie spawn. In the fall, crappie will move into those same areas to feed.
“Target fallen trees, docks, standing timber and stumps up the White and War Eagle river arms. A Bobby Garland baby shad in the shimmer shad color is an excellent lure choice to target these feeding fish. You can catch nice-sized crappie using them under a bobber around those fallen trees.
“Rig your lure about four feet under the bobber. Make slow retrieves over the structure, stopping and popping the bobber every so often.”
Black bass: Nick Frakes is one of the top bass tournament anglers at Beaver Lake. His name is regularly at the top of the list in tournament results.
“During fall, bass will transition to shallow and sometimes super shallow water. I key on water color and wind. If the water is normal to clear, the wind has to blow to get a bite. If the water is dingy to dirty, the fish will be more apt to stay shallow and are more approachable and catchable.
“I typically use small crank baits, spinner baits or flip a Jewel finesse flipping jig. This bite will last through December depending on water temperature.
“I like to split Beaver Lake in half by water color. I call the highway 12 bridge to the dam the ‘clear’ water and the bridge into the rivers the ‘stained’ water. I’d watch the wind, and, if it’s blowing, I’d fish the bridge to the dam. Otherwise, I’m going the other way and be prepared for a tough day.”
Sponsorship is important to tournament anglers. Frakes is sponsored by Nichols Marine in Tulsa.
Striped bass: Tony Castro is on the prowl for striped bass most days at Beaver Lake. He’s easy to spot, sharing the boat with his two fishing buddy dogs, Breezy and Lake.
“Stripers are scattered throughout the lake during fall, so keep an eye out for shad schools that the stripers follow for food.
“A good sonar unit will help locate these schools of shad and a sharp eye can see shad breaking the surface. When bait and stripers are found, stick around. The stripers are going to eat at some point. Try dropping a jigging spoon into the shad school.”
Walleye: Robert Smith fishes for walleye at Beaver Lake with live bait and lures. Walleye fishing can be tough during fall, but Smith is up to the task.
“Fall walleye are hard to target for me at Beaver Lake. They seem to scatter as winter approaches. The groups of fish are smaller and constantly on the move. They will set up in tree lines and rocky points and venture out to follow schools of shad.
“They like cloudy days and prefer feeding before daylight. Walleye start feeding on bait fish in the fall and winter and can be caught much shallower. My favorite lures in fall are spoons and jerk baits worked around tree lines. I like soft baits, too, even Ned rigs, to work around points and flats. Trolling shad-colored crank baits might get you a walleye or crappie.”
Trout: Wes Sleeper, a trout management biologist with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, said he knows more about the biology and habits of trout than how to catch them, but he enjoys trout fishing.
Standard trout baits, such as Power Bait, worms, nightcrawlers, whole-kernel corn and salmon eggs should work for trout during autumn any season at the White River below Beaver Dam. They’re effective in all of Arkansas’ trout waters.
For fly fishing, the staff at Beaver Dam Store keeps a fishing tips page on its website. Fly fishing is best during low water when no power is being generated at Beaver Dam.
Electricity is generated at peak demand times, such as cold mornings and evenings. Visit the Southwestern Power Administration website, www.swpa.gov for Beaver Dam generation information.
Midge patterns are dependable at any season, the staff said, because midges hatch all year in the stream. Black, silver, red, brown or olive are good colors.
Scuds and sowbugs in sizes 18 to 14 are worth a try. Woolly buggers are always a good choice for fly fishing. San Juan worms and egg patterns may also entice strikes.
Know the limits
Some special regulations apply at Beaver Lake that may differ from statewide regulations. At Beaver:
- Crappie must be 10 inches or longer to keep. The daily limit is 15.
- Walleye must be 18 inches or longer to keep. The daily limit is four.
- Striped bass must be 20 inches or longer to keep. The daily limit is three.
- Largemouth bass and smallmouth bass must be 15 inches or longer to keep. Spotted bass of any length may be kept. The combined daily limit of largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass is six. For example, a limit may include two largemouths, two smallmouths and two spotted bass.
Source: Arkansas Game and Fish Commission