Pundits’ Picks: Beaver Lake - Major League Fishing
Pundits’ Picks: Beaver Lake
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Pundits’ Picks: Beaver Lake

Lebowitz, Simmons still undefeated at season’s midpoint; everyone else looking to make second-half push
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FLW Outdoors presents Pundits' Picks
May 14, 2007 • MLF • Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit

Tournament site

Ever get that strange feeling when they move your favorite TV show to a different time slot? Or when your baseball or football team has a Sunday night game instead of its usual day game? It’s the same show, but it’s different. That’s kind of what it feels like for the Wal-Mart FLW Tour’s stop at Beaver Lake this year. Thanks to this season’s schedule shift, the customary fourth tournament of the year, the Wal-Mart Open, has been pushed back to May instead of the usual April. What that means for the anglers remains to be seen, but a few time-related factors may come into play for your picks. For instance, the water’s going to be warmer and the days are going to be longer. Most importantly, however, the fish should pretty much be done with the spawn in Beaver Lake, so the sight-fishing factor that has played such a crucial role in Wal-Mart Opens past could be a near-distant memory. Strong postspawn pros should anchor your picks, but don’t neglect the shallow-water specialists, too. The water’s as high as it’s been at Beaver Lake in recent years, so there will be lots of happy hunting grounds in the flooded timber along the bank. As always, there are the perennial favorites and past champions at Beaver Lake to look out for – like Clark Wendlandt, Dan Morehead and Shinichi Fukae – but keep your eyes peeled for some new guys to make some noise. After all, it’s the same old Beaver Lake, but somehow it just feels different.


Wal-Mart FLW Tour stop No. 4

Wal-Mart Open

Beaver Lake, Rogers, Ark.

May 17-20

Keith Lebowitz
“FLW Outdoors” on FSN

Record: 3-0
Points: 2,264

FLW pro Clark Wendlandt Clark Wendlandt
FLW pro
Cedar Park, Texas

Record: 1-2
Points: 2,187

1) BRENT EHRLER.Riding a hot streak, Ehrler continues to cash in big-time since his championship win, and he will adapt to the changes that Beaver Lake has to offer this time of year.
2) CLARK WENDLANDT.Due for a turnaround after the Charlotte event. Clark started the season on fire, and I expect him to thrive on the lake that put him on the map.
3) LUKE CLAUSEN.Anybody realize the season he’s having? He could make a serious charge and challenge for Angler of the Year if he continues his roll at this event. Versatile, can adapt, and somehow, someway, always puts together a solid limit. Luke is no fluke.
4) SHINICHI FUKAE.Another angler that seems to figure it out everywhere he goes. Obviously, he loves the light line and tackle, but we might see a little change in his arsenal as well, this week. He knows how to throw the heavy stuff, and with the tour stop at a different time of year this season, I’m banking that Shin will adjust to whatever Beaver Lake has to offer.
5) DARREL ROBERTSON.Finished second in 2005 and fifth 2006. He bounced a fish off his boat and lost it in the last minutes of 2005, which cost him a hundred grand. Darrel will be there again this year, but can he pull off the hat trick on Beaver Lake? I say yes. Besides, the AOY title is within his sights.
1) CRAIG POWERS.He loves Beaver and is possibly the best postspawn topwater fisherman in the country.
2) ANDY MORGAN.Seems to do well every week.
3) LUKE CLAUSEN.Like Andy, Luke catches them everywhere we go. You can’t go wrong with this pick.
4) SHINICHI FUKAE.Shin does very well on fisheries that have spotted bass. He is also one of the best all-around anglers in the country.
5) MARK DAVIS.Postspawn is Mark’s specialty. I look for him to do well this week.
Jennifer Simmons

Record: 3-0
Points: 2,086

FLW write Jennifer Simmons
FLW pro Randy Blaukat Randy Blaukat
FLW pro
Lamar, Mo.

Record: 1-2
Points: 1,726

1) DARREL ROBERTSON.Check out his Beaver Lake stats. Why is this guy not mentioned in the same breath as Clean Shoes when it comes to Beaver Cleavers? I am counting on D.R. being the linchpin in my quest to go 4-0 in Pundits’ Picks.
2) SHINICHI FUKAE.He won here last year and top-10ed in 2004. But who cares about that? He’s Shinichi Fukae. He deserves to be on my list even on a bad year.
3) JEREMIAH KINDY.This nice fellow narrowly missed a top-10 at the last tournament, so he’s got to be hungry. He’s also a solid Arkansas pick for Beaver Lake. Picking locals sometimes makes me nervous (dang you, Mark Mauldin), but I’m feeling good about this pick.
4) CLARK WENDLANDT.Maybe this is a lazy pick, but to quote my better half, Dave, Wendlandt is so associated with Beaver Lake that “he is growing a flat tail and stockpiling timber.” I would be remiss not to pick him at the lake that helped make him famous.
5) CLIFFORD PIRCH.It seems like Western guys like to fish Beaver Lake, and Pirch has top-10ed here every year he has fished the FLW Tour. I am hoping Pirch’s streak – and thus my own streak – can continue this tournament.
1) LARRY NIXON.I’m not choosing Larry because he won the last event, although momentum is a precious thing. He is an excellent postspawn angler and won an event I fished on Beaver at this time of year about 15 years ago. I drew Larry at a tournament on Truman Lake years ago, and he ranks in the top three of my all-time best draws in terms of what I learned while watching him.
2) CURT LYTLE.Curt has been hampered by a hand injury this season, but I think he will shine at Beaver. He has a history of doing well on the Ozark-type impoundments. He is a versatile angler but also has certain strengths, which is a necessity in today’s tournament world.
3) JOEL RICHARDSON.Joel hurt my picks last event at Norman, but my instincts tell me that he will redeem himself at Beaver. He told me Beaver was his favorite lake at the last tournament, and I’m sure his trusty Carolina rig will give him a high finish.
4) MARK DAVIS.Mark is another great postspawn angler. I can seem him right now sitting out on a main-lake Beaver point with a Carolina rig just whacking them. He just seems to understand where the bass go after they spawn.
5) SAM SWETT.This is another intuitive pick of mine. Sam has been in a bad slump this season, but I think this will be his breakout tournament. He is a hard worker and has all the qualities of a great angler. I look for him to be knocking on a top-10 spot.
Gary Mortenson

Record: 2-1
Points: 2,200

FLW writer Gary Mortenson
FLW pro Art Berry Art Berry
FLW pro
Hemet, Calif.

Record: 2-1
Points: 2,024

1) LUKE CLAUSEN.Clausen is one of the hottest young guns on the tour today and he’s having an impressive 2007 season, to boot. He’s done well at Beaver Lake in the past and has a habit of coming up huge during most of the biggest tournaments of the season. Few tournaments are bigger than the Wal-Mart Open.
2) SHINICHI FUKAE.Shin won the Beaver Lake event in 2006, and he always fishes well here. He’s a dynamic angler, is perhaps the best prepared angler in the field and just knows how to get it done.
3) DAVID DUDLEY.After a relatively long dry spell on the tour, Dudley is back, firing on all cylinders. With millions of dollars in winnings on the FLW Tour to his credit, Dudley is clearly capable of winning a tournament on any given Sunday. Look for the Castrol pro to continue his climb up the AOY leaderboard.
4) SCOTT SUGGS.The Arkansas native is good, he’s fishing on his home turf, and he’s been on fire in 2007. Simple math says all of that adds up to another strong showing at the Wal-Mart Open.
5) CHAD GRIGSBY.A perennial contender at Beaver Lake, Grigsby is yet another of the young guns who is going to be a force to be reckoned with for years to come on the tour. Look for Grigsby to break into the top 10 and make some noise in the finals.
1) CRAIG POWERS.When topwater action plays out, C.P. will deliver the goods. It should be a great tourney for him.
2) KOBY KREIGER.He’s been at the top of his game recently and will continue to finish strong here.
3) MARK ROSE.Always tough at Beaver Lake.
4) MATT HERREN.Fresh from victory, this derby has Herren written all over it, especially with water in the bushes at Beaver this week.
5) ART BERRY.I’m fishing like there’s no tomorrow, with no pressure. By the way, the talking part is through.
Brett Carlson

Record: 2-1
Points: 2,086

FLW editor Brett Carlson
FLW pro Carl Svebek III Carl Svebek
FLW pro
Siloam Springs, Ark.

Record: 2-1
Points: 2,073

1) CARL SVEBEK III.Known as “The Truth” in some of bass fishing’s inner circles, Svebek has a knack for catching bass in the deep, clear impoundments of the Ozark region. He’s fished extremely well in the Stren Series Central Division, tying for the points lead after two events. Now it’s time for that success to translate over to the FLW Tour. You want the truth? On Beaver Lake, you can’t handle The Truth.
2) MARK ROSE.Another angler extremely adept at fishing clear water. I often liken Beaver Lake to Bull Shoals, and Rose finished second at Bull Shoals two months ago. If I remember correctly, Rose also finished second last year on Beaver. When everybody else is struggling with small largemouths and spotted bass, Rose always seems to find a honeyhole loaded with 3- and 4-pound smallmouths. Those kickers make all the difference with a tight leaderboard.
3) DION HIBDON.Courtesy of the FLW Series event on Lake of the Ozarks last season, I got a first-hand lesson on the prowess of the Hibdon family on deep, clear lakes. Although the quality of the bass on Beaver Lake isn’t the same, I fully expect the Stover, Mo., pro to cash one of those many $10,000 checks.
4) LARRY NIXON.I don’t think the General will get back-to-back wins, but I do think he’ll continue his hot streak. Unlike his buddy Cochran, Nixon can go deep with the jig if that’s the ticket. In that same FLW Series event on Lake of the Ozarks where Hibdon won, Nixon took second. Larry Legend also placed fifth at this year’s Bull Shoals Stren event.
5) SHINICHI FUKAE.The only non-Ozark angler in the group, I tried leaving the 2006 Wal-Mart Open champion off the list, but I just couldn’t do it. Shin’s too good, whether it’s eastern Tennessee, Lake Okeechobee or Beaver Lake. If either member of the Eakins family was fishing, I would have picked them and their famous jig. But sans either Eakins, I predict another top-10 for Fukae.
1) SHINICHI FUKAE.He’s a force to be reckoned with on Beaver Lake. If the fish will hit a shaky head, then he’ll be at the top of the leaderboard.
2) CLARK WENDLANDT.Has proven time and time again that he should live in northwest Arkansas rather than in Texas. Look for him to have a solid bag each day that will carry him into the top 10.
3) GUIDO HIBDON.This fellow Evinrude pro has a way when it comes to finesse-fishing. He’s due for a top-10, and there’s no better place than at Beaver Lake.
4) BUD PRUITT.Going with the Texas boy here. My sleeper pick, he’s a very good fisherman who can adapt to all different situations. Look for him to be near the top of the heap.
5) BOBBY CURTIS.A fellow Castrol pro, he’s fishing in his own backyard. He’s had success on Beaver Lake in the past and has done his homework. Look for him to bust his first top-10 here.
Patrick Baker

Record: 1-2
Points: 2,149

FLW writer Patrick Baker
FLW pro Dave Lefebre Dave Lefebre
FLW pro
Erie, Pa.

Record: 0-3
Points: 1,873

1) SHINICHI FUKAE.OK, I picked Shin to win at Lake Norman, and it just didn’t pan out. Maybe I’m mentally lazy, but I really liked the way his name looked at the top of my Pundits’ Picks list template when I went to update it for the Wal-Mart Open. So Fukae stays on top, but he’s got the history to back up that decision. He top-10ed at Beaver Lake his rookie year, won the whole shooting match last season and posted a respectable 19th-place finish there in his only off year on the FLW Tour – 2005. I realize the tour is visiting Beaver over a month later than usual, but to me that only means sight-fishing specialist Clark Wendlandt isn’t necessarily a no-brainer pick for this tournament as usual. With Shin’s uncanny ability to assess fisheries, I predict he’ll quickly solve the postspawn riddle on Beaver.
2) DARREL ROBERTSON.There might be something to this lazy punditry approach: Robertson was on my Norman list in the No. 2 slot, and I’m just not going to move him. Why would I? He’s logged four top-10 finishes at Beaver over the years, including last year.
3) SCOTT SUGGS.Time to shuffle the deck. Suggs has quietly fished a commendable first half of the regular season, punctuated by a top-10 at Norman. I’m hoping his momentum will carry him to the top of the hill.
4) ANDY MORGAN.Like Suggs, Morgan has been picking up serious points while flying under the radar this year. His record on Beaver Lake isn’t exactly sterling, so he’s due for a top-10 there.
5) JOHN SAPPINGTON.Sappington is fishing like he’s got something to prove lately. Though his only Beaver Lake top-10 comes from a 1998 BFL event, he was hovering near the cutoff at tour appearances there during his heyday, which I hope is now coming full circle.
1) DAVE LEFEBRE.I’m picking myself to win this tournament because maybe it will convince me that I can actually catch something on this darn lake. If go online to look at the Pundits’ Picks and see that someone actually picked me to win on Beaver Lake – even if it was me – that might inspire me somehow. Ridiculous? Maybe, but I’ll try anything at this point.
2) CLARK WENDLANDT.I hate to bring up the ping-pong thing again, but the last time there was a ping-pong war (at Lake Travis) Clark and I both made the cut. Well, a battlefield has been found in Rogers, Ark., and the War of Pong Kong is once again on. Seriously, though, I really think Clark will put a hurting on the fish here this year. Conditions are right for him.
3) MICHAEL BENNETT.Usually the people I pick don’t do so well, but that’s not why I’m choosing Bennett. Honestly. No voodoo here, no sir-ree. Mr. Bennett’s on a roll, and I really don’t know how he’s done here in the past, but it seems like Western-looking water to me. He’ll hold on to the AOY points for a little while longer.
4) SHINICHI FUKAE.I really like Shin. He’s a cool dude and a serious stick. He’s coming off a top-10 last week at Dardanelle and has killed them on Beaver Lake before, even winning it last year. I’m sure the whole clan picked him as well. No surprises here, Shin finishes in the top five again. Do you think he might take me fishing on Beaver Lake if I tank again this year? What do you think, Shin?
5) CLIFFORD PIRCH.Pirch made the top 10 on Beaver Lake the last two years. He’s definitely got something figured out here. The water is a lot higher this year and we’re here a month later, but I think he will still catch them and make it to the top 10 again. I hope this doesn’t jinx him.
Jeff Schroeder

Record: 1-2
Points: 2,041

FLW writer Jeff Schroeder
FLW pro David Dudley David Dudley
FLW pro
Lynchburg, Va.

Record: 0-3
Points: 2,151

1) CLIFFORD PIRCH.I like Cliff’s track record at Beaver Lake the last two years, and I think he does too. This is one of those places where the Western guys do well. It seems particularly susceptible to those Arizona guys (see Andre Moore) who are used to making the most of 10- to 15-pound limits pulled out of clear water. Pirch will claim his first big-time win here.
2) SHINICHI FUKAE.He’s Beaver Lake’s new Clark Wendlandt, in my opinion, although I’m sure the real Wendlandt will have something to say about that. Clear water, light line and those handy little “jigs” he says he throws (translation: Senkos) will come through for him again.
3) CRAIG POWERS.Whatever tricky, little-known power-fishing pattern that Beaver Lake is succumbing to this week, he and his counterpart, Koby Kreiger, will find it. Powers will pop a big sack on a topwater at least one of the first two days, and it should be enough to get him yet another Beaver Lake top-10.
4) DARREL ROBERTSON.Just too hot to handle right now, and his record at Beaver is too stout to ignore. He’s always been money at this one – among others – so this pick’s easy.
5) RAY SCHEIDE.Gotta throw a little Arkansas spice in here, since they always flavor the top 10 at home during the Wal-Mart Open. Whether it’s Mark Rose, Jeremiah Kindy, Mike Wurm, Larry Nixon, George Cochran, Rob Kilby or Mark Davis – these guys are perennial contenders. The trick is deciding which one to pick. Scheide gets the nod here for reasons that are a bit counterintuitive: He hasn’t cracked the top 50 yet this year. Simply put, he’s due, and his Beaver Lake track record tells me this is a good place for him to break through again. Sound points play.
1) SHINICHI FUKAE.Again, this man will call out his fish one by one, name by name, and crack his way into the top 10.
2) DARREL ROBERTSON.I don’t know what it is about this lake, but he and this lake fit like a hand and glove. The top 10 would not be right without him. It’s like a car without gas: It’s just not right.
3) LUKE CLAUSEN.This spinning-rod guru will use his power with the sissy stick to crack the top 10. And if he gets in the top 10, I will buy him a good-looking skirt to match his Chevy truck shirt to wear onstage. Don’t be ashamed because you use a sissy rod, Luke.
4) CLARK WENDLANDT.Even though we are after the spawn, Clark will still be able find enough fish to do well in the tournament, not to mention that he has claimed nearly half of his earnings on this one lake alone. I think what helps him out at Beaver is that he drinks the lake water. He may not admit to it, but I think that’s his secret. In fact, the lake might drop some during the tournament due to Clark’s secret drinking of the water.
5) DAVID DUDLEY.I hate picking myself, but I’m going to this time. I spent three days marking GPS spots here when the lake was really low, so hopefully that will pay off for me. That’s not to mention that I love throwing the sissy stick myself. I won’t drink any of the lake water like Clark does because I don’t like backwash, but I might try some plain old red Kool-Aid.


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