Beginning Wednesday, Lake Eufaula will be the site of the BASS Nation Central Divisional, a tournament featuring bass fishing teams from eight states.
Oklahoma BASS National president Mike Myers said the response from anglers in neighboring states on learning Lake Eufaula’s selection as the site of the championship tournament was the same: “That mudhole?”
But Myers hopes Lake Eufaula will shine during the three-day tourney, which features anglers from Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Kansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska and Oklahoma competing for a chance to participate in the Bassmaster Classic.
“Lake Eufaula is a lake of many faces,” Myers said. “There is so many ways to actually fish Lake Eufaula.”
Miles upon miles of rock riprap shoreline will be a key target for the Central Divisional competitors at Lake Eufaula.
“It will be postspawn then, so the fish will also be on points,” said Bassmaster Elite Series pro Scott Ashmore of Broken Arrow, who predicts most of the fish will be holding in the 5- to 15-foot range throughout the tournament.
Ashmore’s favorite tactic for postspawn bass on the riprap is swimming a tube bait in a bluegill hue. Firetiger crankbaits will also trigger strikes from bass on the rocks. Productive lures to try along the points include black buzzbaits and white-and-chartreuse spinnerbaits.
Largemouth are the dominant bass species in the lake, but Ashmore suggests the Central Divisional contenders could win by pursuing smallmouth.
“The smallmouth have come on like a freight train in all the Oklahoma lakes,” Ashmore said. “There are smallmouth in Eufaula over 8 pounds.”
The smallmouth will bite all summer long on points, Ashmore said.
Anglers compete in a series of tournaments in their own states to qualify for the Central Divisional championship, which rotates each year among states in the Central Division.
Boat launches and weigh-ins will be at Southpoint Ramp on Eufaula Cove. To help lure the championship tournament to Lake Eufaula, the Lake Eufaula Association raised money from private donors to obtain a matching grant from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation to rebuild the boat ramp and expand the parking lot at Southpoint.
Connie Morris, executive director of the Lake Eufaula Association, hopes this week’s Central Divisional will be a springboard to more major bass tournaments for the lake.
“We were a little jealous they were going to Grand (for the Bassmaster Classic and BASS Elite Series tournaments),” Morris said. “We are not any further from Tulsa than Grand is. We are hoping this shows that we have the facilities and we are interested in things like that.”
The top angler from each of the eight state teams in the Central Divisional advances to the BASS Nation Championship on Louisiana’s Ouachita River in November, where the highest finisher from each division will earn a berth in the 2015 Bassmaster Classic.