No wonder so many anglers scratch their heads when they struggle to catch a couple of black bass at Beaver Lake. Then they see tournament results where the top fishermen bring five bass totaling 15 to 18 pounds to the weigh-in scales.
And that’s just the five they’re allowed to weigh. No telling how many they threw back. How the heck do these guys get so good?
Most have been fishing at Beaver Lake for decades, but so have other bass anglers who find the catching difficult, especially in summer.
Nick Frakes of Rogers is one seasoned tournament angler whose name is routinely near the top of the leader board. Take the Beaver Lake Elite Series bass tournament held July 13. Frakes won it with five bass weighing 18.13 pounds. Second and third weren’t far behind with David Louks weighing five bass at 16.04 and Steven Meador tallying 16.01. This was in July when fishing can be dog-days slow.
Frakes was happy to shed some light in the days after that tournament. While most anglers are working lures along the bank, the tournament elite may be fishing far from shore.
“It’s the same every summer,” Frakes said. “There are about eight to 10 off-shore spots that some of the guys know about, and they’re pretty well known to a lot of people who don’t fish tournaments.”
These are modest-sized rock piles out in the main lake in water 20 or so feet deep. They’re near Hickory Creek park and where the White and War Eagle river arms come together south of Hickory Creek. Some of the rock is surrounded by a gravel flat or a mud flat.
Come tournament time, anglers in the know head for these off-shore rock piles.
“They always have fish on them in the summer. You can see them on your electronics,” Frakes said.
Getting them to bite is the trick. His favorite tactic is to work a deep diving crank bait over the rock and hope for the best. Those fish may not be ready to bite.
“You can work a plastic worm or a jig by those fish, and they won’t touch it,” Frakes said.
A crank bait that dives 14 to 18 feet is ideal. His two favorites are a Rapala DT 16 and a Bill Norman DD 22.
Trouble is, those fish may be there all day, but only in a biting mood for a short time. There’s no telling when that will be.
“You just have to be lucky and be there when those fish fire up.”
Lake level also plays a role in which rock piles are fishable.
In Beaver Lake Elite Series events, boats leave tournament headquarters at Prairie Creek park one at a time. Boat No. 1 goes first, No. 2 leaves second and so on.
“If you’re boat No. 50 you’re not going to get any of those spots. Fishermen will already be on them,” Frakes explained. Sometimes he’ll see a competitor leave one of the rocky hot spots, and Frakes will move in to work it, hoping those bass are ready to “fire up.”
Not only that, “there are spots within those spots,” he added. Bass might be bunched up only on part of the rock pile.
Frakes offered another bass catching tip.
“There are so many tournaments and most of them are held out of Prairie Creek park. All those bass, hundreds each year, are released right there at Prairie Creek. The number of bass there is higher than in other areas of the lake,” Frakes said.
Mark Oliver, retired Arkansas Game and Fish Commission fisheries chief, confirmed that in an NWA Outdoors story some years ago about the number of bass released at Prairie Creek. That area has more bass per acre than other parts of Beaver Lake, he said.
In the tournament fishing game, sponsorship is important to help anglers with expenses such as entry fees and fuel. Extreme Sports Boats in Rogers is one of Frakes’ sponsors.
The key to catching more bass, he said, is to fish, fish, fish, then fish some more.
“We spend so much time on the water. For every situation, you have to have a game plan for what you’re going to do. Beaver Lake fishing changes every day. You’ve got to know the lake well to eliminate unnecessary casts,” Frakes said.
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Flip Putthoff may be reached at email@example.com
Two hot spots
Nick Frakes is happy to share his expertise to help others catch fish. Here are GPS way points he provided to two rock piles near Hickory Creek park that he regularly fishes.
• Cedar Point rock pile
• Light pole rock pile