Home from Arkansas and the KBF Grand/Beaver Lakes Open.
I listed Grand Lake first, because the majority of the top finishers were on that lake; most fishing the same area. I chose to fish Beaver Lake – well, I chose to pre fish on Beaver Lake first then asked for some info on Grand Lake and was told only small fish were biting; no real luck (I now know this was inaccurate information)…so I dug deeper into the Bentonville/Beaver area.
My first attempt was to fish out of the Ventris boat ramp. I found 70 plus foot water, marked no real schools of fish….and caught an eight inch small mouth on a 412 Bait Co. free minnow in four hours. Not good. I had read about Beaver, so I searched out other locations (including Grand).
I searched the maps and found the Natural Walk area of War Eagle Creek. It is a road that just ends in the water, but was very easily accessible – and the water was not 70 plus feet deep. It took me two casts to better my catch from the day before; a 12 inch largemouth on a buzzbait. An hour later I had a limit on the same white buzzbait with a chartreuse grub (tail up as always).
I moved around the small cove and caught several more with first a Yamamoto Craw in black w/blue flake, then a Yamamoto Senko in Baby Bass color. I knew that I could most likely catch a limit here for two days…but nothing of any size, so I ventured out into the deeper water.
I never marked a single fish on the points or humps, and watched two bass boats beating the bluffs with jigs; they never boated a single fish. It was a beautiful area, and I feel certain in a different season it would be awesome; but I knew I was getting in trouble, and running out of time.
Then…music started playing…at first, I thought I had become dehydrated to the point that I was delirious – the heat was pretty oppressive…then I heard voices announcing “it was time for the group challenges”. Then music, then voices, then more music….I drank more water…ate a piece of Jerky…more water…then hundreds of voices…more water. It seems I had moved up behind Camp War Eagle, and everyone had pulled themselves out of bed and into some group challenge. At least it sounded like someone was enjoying the Beaver Lake area.
I loaded up my boat, and went for a ride. I looked at the boundaries on Beaver Lake and saw the dam on War Eagle Creek was as far as I could go. By Navionics, I would have been on dry land for a few miles…but I thought maybe I would check it out, then go back to the Four Points Sheraton to get Joy and we could at least spend time there.
I crossed an old bridge, pulled into a parking lot and sat in the cool air being provided by my truck. The water was very shallow once you were twenty feet from the dam….didn’t look good, but I grabbed a rod and waded through the shallow creek to fish against the dam. First cast, fish. Second cast, fish. Third cast…same. Hmmm….
I walked as far downstream as I could, catching a 15 inch bass on the Baby Bass Yamamoto. Maybe?? It was really going to suck pulling my loaded Hobie twenty foot off a hill, then through the 60 to 70 yards of shallow water before reaching the first bend…..then not knowing what lay ahead. But, I was out of options and time and had just blown out my flip flop!
Back at the truck, it seems that Brad Case had found the same spot. We talked a minute with a local guy who told us at the top of the hill was a gate; with a box where you drop two dollars for access. Brad said that was awesome, but where was I going to fish….I took off up the hill, then turned around…I needed change!
We both drove down a rough, tiny road to reach the creek….hmmmmm….it was looking pretty promising.
Fished a couple of hours (sorry Joy, I never made it to the mill with you) and caught another limit just cruising to see what was there. They were small, but I was already almost end of pre-fishing…and we had missed the early bite.
As I left, I noticed the sign said the gate would be locked at 8 p.m. but had no “open” time. So that night, I set my clock for 2:30 to give myself enough time to change locations if the gate was locked….I pulled up around 3:30….it was open. Unloaded the Hobie….still missing my trailer!!!…and sat waiting for launch time. Brad wasn’t there.
Skip details about trying several lures……..first fish came on a Rapala Skitterpop, my favorite small water topwater bait; just shy of 17 inches. I continued with that pattern – throwing into the current at any wood or dark spot in the shallow waters (11 ft the deepest spot) and walking it slowly back to the kayak until 9 in the morning. I caught an 18…but lost another 17 and one that was easily 16 (these would have put me well into the top ten….dang it).
As the sun got high, I went back to the Yamamoto Senko; Baby Bass, then black w/blue flake, a Strike King Bitsy Jig tipped with a Yamamoto Craw (black and blue like my ego)…and erased some twelves on the board.
Caught an early limit, but no size.
Then, I heard a buzzing overhead. Brad had showed up that morning…he had arrived later the day before and had the same luck as me…but what he brought with him was Chad Hoover.
So, I looked up to see a drone zipping down the creek as Chad filmed Brad and the area. It was kinda cool, not going to lie….especially when I caught a monster…ok….a tiny war mouth in front of them, maybe that will not make the video….wish he had been there when I pulled up behind a single tree and caught four 13 plus on four consecutive casts…guess I was not meant to be star!
Anyway, it was a dink fest. All I needed was a few over 15 inches to get into the money….they never came. I caught 20 plus fish, but the water was dropping quick….and then the swimmers showed up. Wading, kayaking or jumping from the bluffs where I had been fishing…..sucked!
I knew that two good days was risky at best, on such a small and shallow section of War Eagle Creek, and I was right. The crappie were biting jigs, the warmouth and sunfish were biting everything else….the bass were a bit shyer.
But…by being able to catch limits both days – by reading the area and understanding my limitations, accepting them and fishing within them for those days on that water – I placed a solid 11th place against over 60 anglers on a body of water I do not know, in hot conditions I would have avoided just two years ago. Guess that will have to do this time….