Torrential rain, rising water levels and wildly fluctuating conditions made for a tough and unpredictable bite during the FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake presented by General Tire. Many pros discovered that what might have worked in practice didn’t work at the tournament’s start, and what might have worked at the start didn’t work at the end. It was that kind of tournament – a scramble to find something, anything, to catch just enough fish to survive and advance in extremely tough conditions. Many pros relied on a junk-fishing strategy to find their fish, bouncing from one spot and pattern to another, and the top 10 baits reflect that lack of an obvious pattern. If there was a predominant bait at Beaver this year, the jig was probably that bait, but many in the top 10 relied on a variety of other baits to make their weights.
1. Johnny McCombs of Morris, Ala., was one of the few anglers who doggedly stuck to one thing throughout the tournament, and it paid off in a big way. The majority of McCombs’ fish came on a modified white War Eagle buzzbait with a Zoom Horny Toad. He pitched a jig back to fish that missed the buzzbait.
2. Jason Reyes leaned heavily on a homemade 1/8-ounce shaky-head jig tipped with a Zoom Finesse Worm in green pumpkin.
3. Bryan Thrift was Mr. Consistency once again, notching another top-10 finish by relying on a green pumpkin Damiki Stinger on an open jighead. His combo was similar to a Ned rig.
4. Novato, Calif., pro Keith Bryan threw a wacky-rigged Zoom Swamp Crawler in green pumpkin with a chartreuse tail on a drop-shot, with the worm hooked offset in the egg sack to give it a more erratic action. He also used a chartreuse and white 1/2-ounce Revenge spinnerbait with double gold willow-leaf blades. Secondary lures included a Heddon Zara Spook, Lobina Rico Suave and 7-inch Osprey line-thru swimbait.
5. Most of Cody Meyer’s fish were caught on a 3 1/2-inch Strike King tube, with a few largemouths coming on a Strike King Rage Bug Texas-rigged with a 1/2-ounce weight and smallmouths caught with a 3 3/4-inch Strike King Rage Swimmer.
6. Scott Canterbury threw a variety of baits during the tournament, but the two that got the most action were a white and chartreuse War Eagle spinnerbait and a Dirty Jigs Scott Canterbury Flippin’Jig.
10. Dean Alexander was one of the few who mostly stuck to a single bait for his bites. In this case the Georgetown, Texas, pro threw a 6-inch Zoom Lizard in blue fleck.