I had a recent opportunity to visit in person with B.A.S.S. Elite angler Ott DeFoe and he made it clear what a challenge Beaver Lake can be for anglers. As I introduced myself at the beginning of the conversation I said that I was from Arkansas and that Beaver Lake was my home lake. Ott’s face immediately dropped and he quipped, “I’m sorry to hear that.”
We spoke for a while about how to attack some of the key features of the lake like deep water floating docks and rocky points and bluffs, and it all really came back to the lake can be good…but it can be fickle from day to day which frustrates the Pros and the Joes. It’s a beautiful reservoir, but I often refer to it as the “Dead Sea” because you can also have some really tough days on the water.
Beaver Lake is well known around the country due to it being an annual stop on the FLW tournament circuit. This weekend, the Kayak Bass Fishing (KBF) Trail makes a stop on Beaver, a full two weeks before the FLW fishing pros come to town. What’s in store for this event? I polled some top Northwest Arkansas kayak anglers to get their thoughts – Jason Underdown, Jeff Malott and Dwain Batey.
Beaver Lake KBF Roundtable
Beaver Lake level is down for the year, but up fairly dramatically from recent rains. How do you think this will affect the fishing?
Underdown – I don’t feel it will affected it too much, the water was recently down 13ft. below normal pool and recently has risen to only 7 feet below normal pool. This allows more cover to be under water and more flats to be accessible for spawning. If anything it may help individuals that were lucky enough to get out on the lake when it was low and mark some spots on their charts that may now be underwater.
Mallot – As the water rises and warms the bass will move toward the banks and back of pockets. The spawn is upon us so they want to move anyway, the rising water only helps.
Because of the rising water, anglers can find very clear water and stained water, where do you think most will gravitate to?
Batey – I think most people will fish clear water, but that may not prove to be the best strategy.
Mallot – I like a slight stain in the water so mid lake would be my go to area. This is one of my favorite things about Beaver Lake, you can find your water color and fish your strength most times of the year.
Being a KBF event, there will be several newbies to Beaver Lake, what advice or words of wisdom would you share with them?
Batey – I have fished Beaver one time last year for the AKA event (which I won) and my last trip here fore that was in 2008 before I ever fished from a kayak, when my partner Alan Heavener and I won a fund raiser tournament for the University of Arkansas fishing team. I also haven’t been on the lake since my win last year…so I guess my best advice is not to pre-fish! (laughing)
Underdown – This lake changes from day to day, so don’t think the spot you pre-fished will be the same two days later. Stick with what you are confident and comfortable with and don’t listen too much to any fishing reports. Secondary points in coves and creek arms will more than likely be the best producers for pre-spawn bass.
Prediction on winning overall length and big bass?
Mallot – I think something in the mid 80s will win, so let’s say 85″ and for big bass I will say 20.5″.
Batey – 84.5″ for total and 21.75″ big bass.
Underdown – Bass have been pretty decent size this last six months or so on Beaver Lake thanks to flooding last year so I’m going with 85-90″ to win and a big bass of 21″.
Beaver Lake Kayak Tourney Trends
Historically, Beaver Lake has been very stingy for kayak tournaments, living up to the “Dead Sea” title.
In 2015, the Arkansas Kayak Anglers held their Beaver Lake roadrunner event in early May. Most of the 50 anglers (76%) carded a keeper in this tournament, while only one in five anglers turned in a limit. 72″ won the event, with 17.75″ taking big bass. I finished 9th with a modest 66″ on the day.
Later that year, the Arkansas vs Oklahoma border battle was held in September on Beaver Lake. On this day, only five of the 48 anglers (10.4%) turned in a limit, with 37.5% of the field not carding a keeper. A small 66.5″ limit won first place on this tough Dead Sea day at Beaver, with a sub-par 15.75″ taking big bass. I took 3rd place with a paltry 61″ on my card, but was happy with a limit on that tough outing.
In early spring of 2016, the Arkansas Kayak Anglers road runner on Beaver Lake posted better results. Only 21% of anglers turned in a limit, while almost one-third of the field did not card a fish. Sizes were bigger this time around, with first place scoring 82.5″ and big bass being a legitimate 19.5″ – a really nice fish on Beaver Lake. I managed 15th on this frustrating day with 57″ total.
This tournament also really matters to local anglers, points not only count for KBF, but this is also a Natural State Kayak Anglers (NSKA) points event. Someone can really bolster their AOY chances with a big win on Saturday. Good luck, wear your PFDs and deploy visibility flags!