Beavers create great fishing spots, both on big water lakes with the cover they provide, and when they dam up small streams and build ponds. Both spots are good bets for some great largemouth bass sport right now.
Consider beaver ponds first. Often when they start building their huts on a small creek, a little spot that might have been good just for catching minnows turns into an acre pond that might grow bass up to five pounds.
Start by checking along creeks you know of where beavers might be working. Also use a topographical map or Google Maps to find other streams flowing through the area that would likely hold bass. Now start walking and searching until you find some of those ponds the local beavers have created (after getting the landowner's permission, of course).
Once you've pinpointed a few, stick with a small selection of lures and light tackle, since you might have quite a hike to reach the beaver pond. I like 6-10 pound line, a light spinning outfit and a selection of mostly quiet, subtle lures. Use plastic worms and grubs for the deepest spots, spinnerbaits for mid-depths, thin minnow plugs and soft plastic jerkbaits for the shallowest spots.
Big Lake Beaver Huts. This is the second type of fishing spot beavers create. Instead of making the whole body of water, as they do on the ponds, here they simply build a prime piece of cover, a collection of branches that bass love to hold next to on larger lakes and rivers.
This beaver structure is typically found in coves, feeder arms and other sheltered areas of both natural and man-made lakes. The assemblage of sticks and logs that beavers pile up offers a number of cracks and crevices for bass to hide in. The huts also provide shade and attract minnows, making them even more appealing. Lake Anna, near Fredericksburg, is excellent for beaver hut fishing.
The best way to make the most of fishing these beaver houses on big lakes is to find as many as possible and mark them in a notebook, GPS or on a topo. Then on days when bass are on a "beaver hut" pattern, holding on this type of structure, you can move from one to the other.
You may only pick up a bass or two at each one. But if you know of 5 or 10 huts on a lake, you've got a good day's fishing lined up.
Try to find huts not being lashed by wind and rough water. The best beaver houses are those located near deep water. If you find depths of 8-20 feet nearby, you've likely found a prime bass holding hut.
Shallower ones can produce in early spring, but for summer, fall and winter sport, concentrate on those near deep water. If the cover is close to a river or creek channel edge, that's even better.
Fishing beaver huts is quite a bit like fishing any other major pile of brush. It's important to study each one and learn the best approach for that specific hut.
Start the outer edge with exploratory casts, to see if you can draw a strike from a fish hanging on the periphery of the hut. The worst thing you can do is to get hung up. That will often ruin the fishing prospects at that hut or at least decrease them significantly from the commotion. If you do get snagged, break off and keep fishing or move up and free the lure and then return later.
Crank baits are a good choice to start with. Cast close to the hut and reel back steadily or with a stop and go retrieve. Also try parallel deliveries to the outer edge of the hut.
If those don't draw out fish, switch to lures that will let you penetrate deeper into the cover. Texas-rigged worms, buzzbaits, spinnerbaits and a weedless jig with pork dressing all hold potential.
Once you fish a hut or two on a given day, you'll often find a pattern for that day, say spinnerbaits slow-rolled nicking the wood. Then you can repeat that pattern on other huts.
A hut might give up just one bass or up to three or four. Usually then the commotion ruins the spot for a while. Instead of giving up on it for the day, though, go fish somewhere else, then come back. You may be able to snare another bass or two after you've rested the spot for a while.
So next time you see a beaver pond on the edge of a woods or a hut along shore on a lake, make a mental note of it and check the spot out for a future fishing trip. You might just find beaver huts are the key to an action packed bass fishing day.
Award-winning outdoors writer Gerald Almy is a Maurertown resident.