A way enjoy colors of autumn is a fall foliage boat cruise on Beaver Lake. Hints of color are starting to show, but extra caution is in order for a trip this year.
That’s because the lake level is lower than it is most autumns. More hazards are exposed or lurking just beneath the surface to wreak havoc on a boat’s propeller and lower unit.
Our little corner of the Ozarks gets more residents each day and lots of them have boats. Beaver Lake is uncharted waters for most of these folks. It takes some time to get to know that lake and its trouble spots. Learning to read the shoreline will keep boaters out of harm’s way when the lake level is low. Here are three hazards to avoid:
Long, gradually sloping gravel points can spell trouble for skippers who steer too close to the point. The gradual slope means water will be shallow far away from the point. Best option is to swing way away from these long points. Beaver Lake is known for its clear water. If boaters can see the bottom as they pass one of these points, best to slow down and idle out to deeper water.
Islands on the lake are fine spots to beach a boat for a picnic or a swim, but they too deserve some attention. Lots of the smaller islands are fairly close to shore. When the lake level is low, water can be too shallow to navigate between the island and the closest shoreline. Wise boaters don’t cruise between the island and the nearby shore. Fact is, if the lake level keeps dropping, these islands will be connected to the shoreline by dry land. They won’t be islands at all any more, but little peninsulas.
Submerged standing timber in the water can be a problem. Some creek arms and coves have forests of timber that is easily seen, but the tops of some trees may be only an inch or two beneath the water and not visible. Slowing down to a no-wake speed is a good idea when cruising any area that has timber in the water.
A plus side to these timbered coves is they’re great places to fish, especially for black bass and crappie. Work a top-water lure around this timber and Mr. Big Bass might try to rip that fishing rod right out of your hands.
To keep a boat in deep water, take a look at the lake shore. The deepest water will usually be along the steepest sloping bank. If the left shore is steeper than the right, steering more to the left side of the lake is in order to stay in deep water.
Shoreline sycamore trees are the first to get showy with their yellow leaves. Color peaks in late October and early November for prime time cruising. Hot weather is behind us in the fall and there’s little boat traffic.
Bluffs all along the 30,000-acre lake put on a spectacular autumn show. One of the prettiest on the lake is Indian Bluff, about one-half mile east of Rocky Branch park on the south shore of the lake. Year after colorful year, Indian Bluff never disappoints leaf peepers in their boats. It takes a boat to see Indian Bluff, but it’s close enough to the park that it’s easily reached in a kayak or canoe.
Joe Neal with the Northwest Arkansas Audubon Society says the bluff is a wonder of color because it’s loaded with sugar maple trees that turn fabulous shades of red.
Don’t put that boat away just yet. Fall on the lake is a sight to behold, with a little extra caution in mind this year.
Flip Putthoff can be reached at email@example.com when he’s not out on the lake.
Beaver Lake hazards: