Before the Walmart FLW Tour presented by Jack Link’s began this morning, there was a lot of talk that Beaver Lake would show out like never before. While the 20-pound range remained safe, Beaver Lake did impress, producing 10 limits over 15 pounds as well as a throng of 12- to 15-pound limits that reached down to 45th place.
Anglers were graced with nearly perfect “Chamber of Commerce weather,” with sunny skies, light winds and temperatures warming up into the mid 60’s by afternoon.
Tournament leader JT Kenney utilized the stained water throughout the lake to sack up five largemouths topping the scales at 18 pounds, 5 ounces.
Behind him a host of others in the top five also targeted largemouths for their catches.
2. Jimmy Houston – Cookson, Okla. – 17-13 (5)
The always gregarious Quaker State pro Jimmy Houston had even more to laugh about today as he toted 17 pounds, 13 ounces to the scales to start the event in second place.
No surprises here, Houston wrangled his catch on a – you guessed it – spinnerbait.
“Yeah, I’m catching them on a spinnerbait,” Houston says. “Lucky guess there, huh? It’s nothing special. I’ve got three identical spinnerbaits rigged up, except for the color, that’s the only variation in the three models. I’ve got two with trailer hooks and one without, in case I need to cast in some really difficult places where it might get hung.”
“With that kind of weight, it might look easy out there but it’s not,” Houston adds. “I only caught seven keepers on the day.”
3. Kurt Mitchell – Milford, Del. – 17-8 (5)
Fishing Beaver Lake for the first time, FLW Tour rookie Kurt Mitchell toted 17 pounds, 8 ounces to the scales to start his third pro event in third place.
“I specifically went after the largemouth bite today,” Mitchell says. “They were all shallow water largemouths in stained water. I’ve got about 7 different areas and each stretch is maybe 100 to 130 yards long. I’m throwing a winding bait when I’m moving down the stretches and when I get to some of the more specific stuff I’m fishing, I’ll pitch and flip.”
4. Buddy Gross – Ringgold, Ga. – 16-11 (5)
Also in the “all largemouth” camp on day one is Buddy Gross who weighed in 16 pounds, 11 ounces to start the event in fourth place.
Gross ran some 40 miles of water to make 20 stops on the day. He described the water color he is fishing as “cleaning up” water because the water is clearing up “scary fast.”
“It’s not so much about the water color as it is a specific structure I’m looking for,” Gross says. “A lot of the places I fished in practice had boats on them today and that really forced me to fish new water that still fit my pattern and I think that actually kind of helped. I would look for places without boats and if it had what I was looking for, I’d fish it whether I had ever fished it before or not, so most of my fish came from that water that was new to me.”
5. Rex Huff – Corbin, Ky. – 16-1 (5)
Rounding out the all-largemouth top five is Rex Huff with 16 pounds, 1 ounce.
Huff said he is flipping muddier water areas for his bites and ended up catching 8 keepers on the day.
“The muddier water has been the ticket for me,” says Huff. “Some of that water is clearing up really fast and that didn’t work too well. I had to be in muddier looking stuff to get bites.”