EUFAULA, Okla. – For Okies, this is old hat, but for the rest of the bass fishing world, 150 Tackle Warehouse Invitationals pros taking off into a Lake Eufaula sunrise is a new experience. Epic Baits Stop 3 Presented by B&W Trailer Hitches pits the anglers against a lake that has barely hosted a tournament at the national level, which means there’s a lot of excitement in the air for what should be a primetime spring event.
Chris Jones of Bokoshe, Oklahoma, has a deer lease a few miles from the lake and has spent plenty of time plying the turbid waters of Eufaula. Hoping to be slinging around in the mud for three days, Jones says the muddy lake is even a little dirtier than usual.
“The lake is typically not as dirty as it is now,” he said. “It gets this dirty, but when the lake is high and then they pull it down, it draws a lot of the muddy water out of the tributaries. So, there’s muddy water from one end to the other. If it wouldn’t have been that way, I think you’d see a lot more anglers out offshore.”
As is, Jones reckons we’re headed for some of the best Eufaula can offer, muddy water be damned.
“I think we hit it at the prime time, it’s the best time we could hit it,” Jones said. “The scary part is, I’m afraid the water has finally stabilized and there might be a lot of them that are going to lock on beds and be hard to catch. But, it’s gonna show out for sure. I see it taking 18 or 19 a day to win, I assume 15 a day will make the Top 10. I think it will take at least 13 a day to make the Top 50.”
One of the veterans on tour, Mike McClelland has actually been on Eufaula a decent amount – but mostly a long time ago. That old experience may turn out to be helpful this week, but he was still surprised to see what the lake looked like when he arrived.
“The biggest thing that has changed is I have never been here in my life when there weren’t bushes and willow trees in the water,” McClelland said. “I guess I thought that it was just common for the lake to be in ‘em, and honestly, I really question if maybe they have dropped what used to be considered ‘normal pool’ to a lower ‘normal pool.’ Honest to goodness, the lake looks completely different than I ever remember it.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean the Andy’s Frozen Custard pro is throwing in the towel.
“Initially, I thought there would be selected areas with more brush in the water,” he said. “Man-made brush, laydowns, things of that nature. But, for the most part, you’re dealing with rock, sand and mud. It’s finding that happy medium or mix in an area that is productive.
“I would say it reminds me of Texoma. It definitely isn’t like Grand – Grand doesn’t have the sand composure at all. It has some areas that are muddy and silted, but it’s rock throughout the lake. This lake, you can go from solid ledge rock, to broken rock, to sand in a matter of a few hundred feet.”
Despite the cover being essentially rock, sand, mud and docks, McClelland said that he’s been able to get bites on everything from a floating worm to a crankbait. In fact, he figures we’re in for a really good event, with pros doing a lot of different things.
“I think we’re going to see multiple 20-pound bags from people on a day or two of their tournament, but I don’t know if they can back it up,” he said. “I feel like the lake has some really healthy fish, I don’t have a gauge on the population. When you get a bite or two, there are some big ol’ fat, healthy fish in this lake. The fish mostly seem to be prespawn, or just now trying to spawn, and I think that’s definitely going to lead to some really good bags caught.”
If Jones, McClelland and some others are right, we could be in for a good time on MLFNOW!, so tune in for a fascinating look at a unique lake, and hopefully a very exciting tournament.