An angler casts to a large beaver hut on a Virginia lake. Work the very outside edge first, then move in to the thick stuff with weedless offerings.
Maybe you've cruised past their huts on impoundments in your boat as you sped towards a distant hotspot. Or perhaps you've driven past the dams they created with their handiwork and the small ponds behind them on your way to a big lake destination. In either case, you'd do wise to step on the brakes of your boat or car and stop in to check out the tree-cutting work of your local beaver population a bit more thoroughly.
Beavers create great fishing spots both on big water lakes, by the cover they provide, and when they dam up small streams and create ponds. Both spots are good bets for some great bassing sport.
Let's look at the beaver ponds first. Often when they start building their huts on a small creek and then expanding them with more tree-chewing, a little spot that might have been good just for catching minnows turns into an acre pond that might grow bass to 5 or 6 pounds.
Start by checking with your fish and game department biologists and the local game warden. Maybe a sporting goods store or local trapper will also give you a tip on where beavers are abundant. Then use a topo or online map to find larger streams flowing through the area that would hold bass. Now start walking and searching until you find some of those ponds the local beavers have created.
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. Also bring a topo, GPS, lunch, water, cell phone and survival kit.
Beaver ponds are often shallow and clear, so go with 6-10 pound line, a light to medium spinning outfit and a selection of mostly quiet, subtle lures. I like 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 huts 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 type of cover 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, logs, and wooden rubble that beavers pile up offers a number of cracks and crevices for bass to hide in. It also offers lots of shade. The huts also attract minnows and that makes them even more appealing.
They're especially attractive to bass on lakes where the bottoms were bulldozed clean and all trees were removed before the lake was formed. Wood structure is scarce in these waters and bass move to the cover on these lakes like metal to a magnet.
The best way to make the most of fishing these beaver houses 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 on each one. But if you know of 10 or 20 huts on a lake, you've got a pretty darn good day's fishing lined up!
Of course some huts will be even more productive. Large multiple-generation ones that might stretch for a long distance could offer up to half a dozen bites before they turn cold.
Creeks, Lake Arms
Look for huts in creeks and lake arms, but they can really build them just about anywhere on impoundments. The main thing is that the spot not be lashed by rough water. Pick locations where the prevailing wind doesn't blow straight in to begin your search.
On small streams beavers can dam up the flow and make a couple of acre lake that can grow 5-6 pound bass.
Once again, checking with biologists and wardens will help identify areas with healthy beaver populations. Focus on lakes, impoundments or broad rivers in those areas.
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.
How to Fish Them
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 — things like where to position your boat, where to drop the lure, how to work it back so you present it most appealingly to the most fish present at the hut. Experiment and soon you'll figure these patterns out for each hut.
Start at the outer edge with exploratory casts to see if you can lure a fish hanging on the periphery of the hut. The worst thing you can do is 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 cruise down a lake and notice beavers piling branches onto their hut, stomp on the brakes and give that spot a try. You might just find beaver huts are the key to a quick limit of chunky bigmouths.