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David Rainer's August 2008 Article

Beall Targets Afternoon Bass at Eufaula

By DAVID RAINER 

When you head out fishing with Tracy Beall, don’t expect to see the sun rise on Lake Eufaula. Unlike most guided fishing trips, Beall’s charters start at the crack of noon.

The reason is simple – Beall is what is known in the bass fishing world as a deep-water structure fisherman, and the fish he targets have a habit of sleeping in.

“If you want to structure fish, you need to forget about waking up at 5 o’clock in the morning,” Beall said. “Do whatever you need to do in the mornings and fish in the afternoons. Typically, there is more (electricity) generation at the dams in the afternoon. That generation moves the water, which moves the bait fish out. Then the bass start moving out and get more active.

Fishing guide Tracy Beall unhooks a nice largemouth that was fooled by a Carolina-rigged worm in 22 feet of water at Lake Eufaula.“They will bite when they’re not generating, but your odds greatly improve when they’re pulling water.”

Beall started fishing Lake Eufaula, rated as one of the top bass fishing lakes in the nation, in 1965, riding his bike to the 45,181-acre reservoir that was impounded two years earlier on the Chattahoochee River.

“I got my first boat when I was about 14,” Beall recalled. “It was a 14-foot Monark aluminum boat with a 20-horse Mercury. That’s what I started in and I’m still fishing. The boat’s a little bigger (a 22-foot Ranger with a 250-horse Yamaha) these days.”

Although he didn’t have the range he has now when he first started fishing Eufaula, it didn’t take Beall long to determine that deep water is where he wanted to fish.

“I figured that out right after I got a boat,” he said. “I actually figured that out in the creeks, fishing points. You could catch more than one at one spot if you started fishing away from the bank.

“I got a depth finder about a year after I got the boat. It was an old Heathkit, which was the beginning of Humminbird. Heathkit was a mail-order place where you could order electronics. The housing was black and white. Some of the guys around Eufaula were putting them together for about $20 a box. When I got the depth finder, I bought some topo maps and started exploring.”

Beall’s deep-water technique is best during the summer and winter months when the water is either extremely hot or extremely cold. The extremes in temperatures tend to make the fish congregate.

“A few fish will start moving to deeper water in late May,” he said. “When the water gets hotter than 80 degrees you’ll see some concentrations out on the ledges and structure. Then they’ll move back out there in the dead of the winter.

“The summer fishing this year has been the best since the fish kill (of 1997). And it’s not just me. It’s taking 22 to 25 pounds to win the buddy tournaments. After the fish kill it was taking 12-15 pounds. We’ve been catching seven-pounders, and I had one close to eight the other day.”

Beall said anyone who wants to learn to fish deep-water structure just needs to ignore a little water.

“You need to think about it like you are fishing the bank,” he said. “When you’re fishing a reservoir, it is the bank – the old river bank. It’s just covered with water. You approach it just like you would a bank you could see out of the water.

“You’re going to look for points; you’re going to look for little indentations; you’re going to look for stumps. It’s really no different; it’s just got water over it.”

The depth of water Beall fishes at Eufaula will vary, depending on what part of the lake he’s on. On the north end of the lake, the top of the ledge can be anywhere from five to 15 feet deep. As he gets to the south end of the lake, a lot of the ledges will be 20 to 30 feet deep, falling into the river channel, which is 60 to 70 feet deep.

“When you find a ledge, which is defined as the bottom dropping suddenly, there is always something that makes a ledge a good ledge,” he said. “There’s a little sweet spot or something different on that ledge. It may be three or four stumps. It may be some rocks or shell. You want to look for something different. If a ledge is running straight and it makes a little turn or makes a point, whatever is different is usually going to be the best spot.

“As far as cover – stumps, trees, etc. – the best ones just have isolated cover on them. When there is a lot of cover, the fish scatter and don’t hold in one spot like they will with isolated cover.”

Beall relies heavily on his electronics to find the productive spots, and he’s right in the middle of the latest technology. Humminbird makes its home in Eufaula, as do several lure manufacturers – Mann’s, Strike Zone and Southern Plastics.

“Humminbird’s new side-imaging units are something else,” Beall said. “I’ve got the model 1197 with the largest screen. It’s almost like an underwater camera. It’s really good for structure fishing. You can see out beside the boat up to 360 feet, left and right. You don’t have to go directly over structure to see it. You can see man-made brush piles, standing timber, old bridge debris, and bait fish. It’s a great tool for structure fishermen and people who fish the bank. You can ride down the bank and see what the cover looks like on the bank.

“And it’s excellent for tournament fishermen. They can go to a strange lake with this unit and just idle around. It’s got GPS capabilities and a color graph. You can mark it and come back to it and fish it.”

When Beall uses his electronics, he’s not really looking for bass. He’s looking for the structure and bait fish.

“If there are threadfin shad there, that’s where I’m going to start,” he said. “Finding fish on the depth finder is difficult. If I find the bait, I’d rather just pull up and throw a bait. If they’re there, they typically bite quick. If they don’t bite after a few minutes, you move to the next spot.”           

Beall said are a number of lure choices for deep-water fishing.

“A plastic worm, Carolina- or Texas-rigged, is good,” he said. “I prefer a Carolina rig because I can fish it faster. I can cover water quicker. I do a lot of drift fishing, or dragging. You let the wind or current drag you along the ledge. You just use the trolling motor to stay on the ledge. If you find fish, you can use a Mann’s 20-plus crankbait. A big Strike Zone spinnerbait, like the Ledgebuster, is a good deep-water bait, especially when you’ve got heavy cover. You don’t hang it up like a crankbait. And you need to have a jigging spoon tied on at all times. I like the three-quarter ounce Hopkins type. I use the chrome. Some people use the gold.

“The jigging spoon is a year-round bait. The thing about the spoon is you can vertically jig it and catch fish. That is the most common use. Drop it under the boat and let it go to the bottom. Make a short hop and let it free-fall. If you have a clean area, you can cast it up on the flat and hop it back to the boat. That’s real effective, especially in the fall when the fish start scattering out on the flats. But if they come up and school on the surface, you can cast it to the school.”      

Where Beall gets one bite, he figures there is the potential to fill his livewell with nice fish.

“The thing about fishing deep water is there is always the chance of finding the Mother Lode on one place, where you catch fish after fish without moving the boat,” he said. “That’s always a possibility on Eufaula and that’s what I’m always trying to accomplish when I’m fishing.”

While you’re in Eufaula, check out the town’s beautiful architecture in its historic district, as well as Lakepoint Resort State Park. Lakepoint is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation, but has a number of facilities available for overnight stay, including 10 new lakeside cottages. Visit www.alapark.com for more information on Lakepoint.

For guided fishing trips, contact Beall at 334-703-2570 or Jackie Thompson at 334-687-9595.

PHOTOS: Top - Tracy Beall unhooks a nice largemouth that was fooled by a Carolina-rigged worm in 22 feet of water at Lake Eufaula.

Bottom - Humminbird's latest side-imaging GPS fishing system picks up bridge rubble in 67.9 feet of water at Lake Eufaula. 


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