Beaver Lak - Mike McClelland

Veteran fishing pro Mike McClelland grew up fishing Arkansas waters. - Photo Courtesy of: Major League Fishing

Veteran fishing pro Mike McClelland grew up fishing Arkansas waters. - Photo Courtesy of: Major League Fishing

Beaver Lake offers all three species of bass. You have smallmouth, largemouth and spotted Kentucky bass. 

If you want to predominantly target smallmouth and spotted bass, the lower end of the lake is going to be better, at about the Highway 12 bridge to the dam. In May and through the summer months, the upper river arm of the lake will be more consistent for largemouth. So that would be from the Highway 12 bridge up the river, really, as far as you care to venture.

When you look at May through the course of the summer, I definitely recommend the first three to four hours around daybreak and then the last three to four hours up until dark and even fishing after dark. 

The biggest thing to focus on, whether you’re fishing up the river or fishing down lake, you can’t go wrong fishing the points, anywhere you’ve got a point extending out into open water that has a strong drop. 

Probably my No. 1 go-to would be a Carolina rig. My favorite bait to Carolina rig that time of the year on Beaver Lake would be a Big Bite, we call it a coon tail. It’s a little 4½- inch ringworm that’s just a perfect morsel. As people get to be a little more advanced, a football jig—or a hardhead, as we call it—with a plastic trailer, a crawl-style trailer, something that Big Bite makes would be my choice there.

Early in the morning and late in the evening you can get some real topwater action; if you have a cloudy day, they’ll bite topwater through the course of the day. A Big Bite suicide buzz toad or a suicide buzz shad would be great topwater bait early and late.

When you start talking about the largemouth fishing up the river, Carolina rigging can also be a good tactic up there. I might bulk the size of my bait up a little bit, throw something like a Big Bite frighting frog or a Big Bite battle bug, a bigger worm. Rather than throwing the little coon tail I might increase it to a creek tail 7-inch worm or a mag finesse worm, something of that nature. 

The other thing that is really going to work well is crankbaiting up the river. The whole variety of SPRO crankbaits—the bait that John Crews has designed, the Little John Series, the DD Series or Russ Wayne’s Bad Papa series—are all good crankbaits. Then, my new SPRO RkCrawler series could also be implemented into those crankbaiting situations.

One of my must-haves is my Garmin electronics with built-in mapping to figure out how deep the fish are relating. Even someone without electronics, you have to have a depth finder of some kind or you have to have a good topographical map of the lake. As long as you fish the appropriate depth, you’re going to have a blast on Beaver Lake.

Arkansas native Mike McClelland earned the nickname “McStick” the old-fashioned way: by winning eight tour-level events and collecting 35 Top 10 finishes and more than $1.9 million in winnings in his 31-year career. McClelland is affiliated with Major League Fishing (MLF).