When Beaver Lake turns chocolate-shake muddy, scores of anglers flee. They steer their boats to the north end of the waterway seeking clear water.
Keith Brashers of Rogers goes the other way. Fishing for black bass in high, muddy water pays off for Brashers in his everyday fishing and in bass tournaments on the lake.
Brashers and his teammate, Nicky Parson, won an NWA Team Trail event held May 22 at Beaver. Three factors combined on the south half of the lake to create conditions Brashers loves: The lake level was high, flooding lots of bushes and trees; he water was muddy like coffee with cream; and wind put a chop on the surface
“It was the perfect storm for Nicky and me to win,” Brashers said during a fishing trip June 3. “The water was muddy and the bass were crushing spinner baits.”
The pair fished spinner baits around flooded bushes between the Arkansas 12 bridge and Hickory Creek park. They weighed a tournament limit of five bass totaling 15.9 pounds for the win.
Brashers earned his living making and using spinner baits when he owned War Eagle Custom Lures in Rogers. He’s since sold the company, but he’s still sold on spinner baits for catching black bass at Beaver Lake. Largemouth bass, spotted bass and smallmouth bass are the three species of black bass.
When the water is high and muddy, as it often is during spring, Brashers relies on a small selection of lures to put bass in his boat. Conditions dictate which ones he uses.
Sunny, calm days can make bass fishing tough. On bluebird days, he may work a plastic worm or a soft-plastic tube bait around flooded bushes, floating logs and tree trunks in shallow water close to shore.
When the wind blows, spinner baits get the nod. It doesn’t take white-cap producing gales. A 10 mph breeze is ideal. The chop breaks up the flat glassy lake and gets bait fish and other forage on the move, along with big bass.
Spinner baits work from early spring and into summer, Brashers testified.
“Fishermen get in their heads that certain lures only work at certain times. For the most part, I can roll with that. But a lot of people think a spinner bait is an early spring, prespawn lure,” he said. “For me, it’s been by far a better post-spawn bait, especially for catching big, hungry, female bass.”
Brashers cited the former Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce buddy bass tournaments held on the lake in May for years. Those tournaments drew a crowd of fishermen, some 400 or more competing for cash and a shiny new bass boat for the winners. That’s plenty of competition.
Brashers and two different teammates won four chamber tournaments. He won two while fishing with his friend Gene Vandever and two with Parson, who’s his current teammate on the NWA Team Trail circuit. Those victories came after the bass spawn was over.
“All four were won with War Eagle spinner baits,” Brashers recalled. “Conditions were perfect for those events. High, dirty water, just like May 22 when Nicky and I won the Team Trail tournament.”
Fast forward to June 3. Conditions were way different when Brashers hit the water at sunrise. Beaver Lake was much clearer. No muddy water in sight. Not a puff of breeze rippled the linoleum-smooth lake surface.
His mission was to figure out a fishing plan for a bass tournament he and a buddy from Texas signed up for that weekend.
Brashers opted to cast a six-inch plastic worm, rigged shaky-head style, around flooded bushes and floating timber in the Beaver Shores area. As the sun climbed, he wrangled a stocky 13-inch spotted bass into his boat and a couple of respectable largemouths. Then he stowed his rods and went looking for muddy water.
He found it far upstream in the White River arm of the lake near Point 12. By now it was midmorning and still no wind. Not far away, in the War Eagle arm, the water was not only calm, but clear, much to Brasher’s chagrin. Clear water, sun and zero wind can make fishing “tough as nails,” the angler said.
As one who’s made a living making and using spinner baits, Brashers is happy to share tips for late spring fishing and summer bass fishing.
In muddy water, he likes a 3/8-ounce or 1/2-ounce spinner bait. A lure with white blades and a white and yellow skirt is his favorite. It’s called “cole slaw” in the War Eagle line of lures. In stained to clear water, a one-half-ounce spinner bait in gray or white is good.
“But you gotta have wind,” Brashers will say.
Vandever is fond of saying, “On a calm, blue-sky day, it’s better to be holding a 7-iron than a fishing rod.”
Brashers doesn’t golf.
Beaver Lake black bass
All three species of black bass — largemouth bass, spotted bass and smallmouth bass — swim in Beaver Lake. The daily limit is six black bass.
Largemouth and smallmouth bass must be 15 inches or longer to keep. Anglers may keep spotted bass of any size.
Source: Arkansas Game and Fish Commission