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Entries in Arkansas (20)

Friday
Sep082017

Bass Boss Ray Scott Shares Strategy in Better Bass Fishing

Roland Martin (left) and B.A.S.S. founder Ray Scott in 1975, after Martin won a B.A.S.S. tournament at Santee-Cooper.

One of best things about starting to write for Bassmaster in the 1980s was that I got to know B.A.S.S. founder Ray Scott. During the 1985 Bassmaster Classic in Arkansas, I shared a table with him and then Gov. Bill Clinton for a barbeque dinner at the governor's mansion in Little Rock. We've shared a few other meals at Classics and other events as well. For awhile, I was the ghost writer for his B.A.S.S. Times column. He's a story teller, entertainer, and salesman like no other, and he's also a pretty good fisherman.

I asked him to contribute to my first book, Better Bass Fishing, and this is what he provided:

Anglers never should overlook the power of provocation, according to Ray Scott, founder of B.A.S.S. and father of competitive bass fishing. That lesson was emphatically driven home to him while on Alabama’s Lake Eufaula with Harold Sharp, his long-time tournament director.

“I was fishing the front and running the trolling motor,” Ray remembers. “Harold was in the back and yet somehow he was catching twice as many bass as I was. Finally, I asked him what his secret was.

Sharp told him: "You’re making them mad and then I’m catching them."

“There’s no other fish in the world like a bass,” Ray continues, “and many times provocation is more important than ‘Let’s have lunch.’

"Yes, bass eat when they’re hungry, but they also strike to protect their territory. I’ve seen a bass hit a bait, then swim a little ways and spit it out. It’s a primary instinct.

“But you have to remember that what provokes that bass won’t stay the same. It could change in 2 minutes or 10 days. And it’s not because they think that we’re trying to catch them. They’re just doing what bass do.

“The guy who slows down and studies the fish, who can put the numbers together to figure them out, will do better than the others.”

(This book is available at Barnes & Noble, but often is sold out at Amazon, which does keep my other books in stock.)

 

Monday
Sep042017

Arkansas Offers Grants to Help Youth With Habitat Projects

A new program encourages young competitive anglers to help improve fish habitat in Arkansas' aging reservoirs.

“We want to promote the idea that all anglers are stewards of our aquatic resources,” said Jason Olive, Assistant Chief of Fisheries Management for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (GFC). “By getting these young tournament anglers involved in habitat projects, we want them to be a part of working with us from the beginning of their competitive angling careers.”

Youth tournament organizations affiliated with junior high, high school, and colleges can apply for an award, ranging from $500 to $1,000 to offset costs of building and sinking habitat.

“Most of Arkansas’s reservoirs are at least 40 to 50 years old,” said Colton Dennis, GFC Black Bass Program coordinator. “And some were cleared of trees for timber before the lake was flooded. What woody cover and vegetation were left have gradually decayed, which reduces the amount of complex habitat available in our reservoirs.”

Complex habitat not only gives anglers places to key on for fishing, it’s beneficial to the fish. Smaller species, such as baitfish and young predator fish, hide among the dense cover for protection. In many cases, algae and other bits of organic matter on the cover provide food for baitfish as well. Larger fish also use the habitats, but as hunting grounds. They find ambush points around the cover and wait to nab smaller fish that venture too far away from the safety of thicker cover.

“In lakes that have aged to the point that much of the original cover is gone, man-made brush piles can fill that role,” Dennis said. “The GFC has worked with many different materials to create reservoir habitat enhancements for many years.”

He added that those who want to participate in the program should check with the owner/manager of the fishery before adding habitat. "There are a few lakes that do not allow natural brushpiles because they are water supply reservoirs," the biologist explained. "But some may allow PVC structures to be placed if you go through the proper procedure and work with them. A quick call to your local fisheries biologist can help you figure out your options."

Funds from the award program can be routed through a team's account at its school, and officials there should be listed as the contact person for the grant proposal. Applications are available on the GFC website.

Tuesday
Jun062017

Kennedy Wins Bassmaster Elite at Lake Dardanelle

Steve Kennedy of Auburn, Ala., wasn’t dominating the event until he weighed 16 pounds, 9 ounces of bass during the final weigh-in to take home $100,000 and the third championship of his career at the GoPro Bassmaster Elite at Lake Dardanelle presented by Econo Lodge.

A big bass late in the day on Monday that weighed 5-10 anchored his five-bass limit and pushed his four-day winning weight to 63-12. The last time Kennedy topped a Bassmaster Elite Series field was in 2011 at Georgia’s West Point Lake.

“I’ve been so close so many times before, and I’ve usually lost tournaments because of a missed bite, or losing a fish before I could get it inside the boat,” Kennedy said. “It sure feels good to win one, especially after nearly winning this year’s Classic on Conroe.

Kennedy won $50,000 for an impressive second-place finish at the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods in March on Lake Conroe in Texas.

The 48-year-old veteran made a 100-mile round trip each day to fish a small backwater just below the Ozark Dam on the Arkansas River.

“I found that spot during practice, and since the water is over 20 feet high right now, I was able to get my Bass Cat into the small pond-like area,” he said. “Once I got in there, I was impressed with the amount of life that was present. There were gar surfacing everywhere, shad flicking and bass feeding, which told me it was worth a visit each day.”

On Friday’s opening round of competition, he made the run to the dam and caught 16-10, which had him quietly in ninth place. Saturday morning he went to the same location, caught 14-3 and moved up the leaderboard into fifth place.

“On Sunday I caught 16-6, which had me in third place and I knew I had a real shot,” he said. “After I caught that big fish today I felt like I had it locked up, but Mark Davis kept it too close for comfort.”

Davis of Mount Ida, Ark., led the event on both Saturday and Sunday, but could only manage 13-10 on the final day and finished second, only 1-10 behind Kennedy.

Most of the fish that Kennedy brought to the scales this week were caught on a 3/4-ounce D&L Advantage flipping jig with a white plastic trailer.

“I used the exact same program at the Classic back in March,” he said. “There was still a bit of a shad spawn going on this week, and by swimming the jig through the willows, stopping it and letting it fall along the edge of the weeds, the bass would absolutely smoke it. I also caught several fish on a green pumpkin swim jig, and a few on topwater.”

With Kennedy’s wife and children there to congratulate his victory, he was elated.

“It’s been a while,” he said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform and do well, and when I don’t succeed I take it hard. It means a lot to my family and me to bring home one of those coveted blue trophies.”

Other top finishers included Kevin VanDam, third with 60-11; Mark Menendez, who won here in 2009, fourth with 57-9; and Dean Rojas, fifth with 56-7.

Ott DeFoe, who finished 15th at Dardanelle with 41-12, has a slight lead over Jacob Wheeler and Brandon Palaniuk for Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year with three more regular season tournaments remaining in the Elite Series. He was awarded $1,000 for leading the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year points race at the end of the event.

David Mullins of Mount Carmel, Tenn., claimed the $1,500 Phoenix Boats Big Bass Award for a 6-pound, 8-ounce largemouth he caught during Friday’s opening round.

Davis won the Livingston Lures Day 2 Leader Award of $500 for leading the tournament on Saturday’s second day of competition.

Jamie Hartman of Newport, N.Y., won the Toyota Bonus Bucks Award of $3,000 for being the highest-placing eligible entrant in the program. The second-highest-placing eligible entrant, Cliff Pace of Petal, Miss., received $2,000.

Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., earned the Power-Pole Captain’s Cash Award of $1,000 for being the highest-placing angler who is registered and eligible and uses a client-approved product on his boat.

Monday
May222017

Family Friendly Places to Fish and Boat

Whether they're professional anglers or professional athletes, plenty of people love to fish and boat with their families. So we asked around, and added their family favorites to our list of best places to fish and boat in the country--- Take Me Fishing


LUKE BRYAN -J. PERCY PRIEST RESERVOIR, TENNESSEE

"It’s the first place I ever caught a smallmouth bass. Me and my boys love the bass fishing there."


AL VILLANUEVA -PRESQUE ISLE BAY, PENNSYLVANIA

"Nothing better than fishing the lagoons in the summer. I spend a lot of my free time fishing and really cherish any time on the water."


JUSTIN MOORE -DE GRAY LAKE, ARKANSAS

"It’s where I always went as a kid, and now I take my children there. My favorite memory has to be watching my oldest daughter catch her first fish all by herself."

To find out more family friendly locations by region, go here.

Wednesday
Mar222017

Little Arkansas Lake Yielding Big Bass

Yielding three double-digit largemouth bass in January, little Lake Akins in west-central Arkansas is looking more and more as if it just might be the fishery to produce the next state record bass. The current record, a hefty 16 pounds, 8 ounces, was caught by Aaron Mardis in 1976 on Mallard Lake.

On Jan. 23, an 11.7-pound bass was taken from a public pier on the 752-acre lake managed by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC). A few days later, Sharon Vinson of the Lucky Landing Bait Shop weighed in another 11, as well as a 10 and several others that topped 5 pounds. Most of those, including the second 11, also were caught from the pier, with minnows and shad the baits of choice.

Those big bass likely were among the first Florida-strain bass stocked in the lake in 2003, after it was rehabilitated, according to biologist Frank Leone.

“That would make these fish about 14 years old, which is nearing the end of a Florida-strain bass’s lifespan in Arkansas,” Leone said. “We’re keeping an eye on the population and hoping that we don’t begin to see a decline in those fish that reach what we like to call the ‘memorable’ class.”

Lying between Interstate 40 to the north and the Arkansas River to the south, Lake Atkins originally was impounded in 1956. But over the years, it became overrun with rough fish, including carp and bigmouth buffalo, and that prompted a drawdown and renovation project. A partial drawdown and fish kill in 2002 turned into a near total drawdown when a dam gate malfunctioned, leaving only 25 acres of water left at one point.

“That drawdown enabled us to remove the rough fish and remove northern strain largemouths from the system before we stocked it with Florida-strain bass,” the biologist added. “Through our genetics testing, we’ve seen the lake begin to shift slowly back to northern-strain bass, possibly from fish entering the system from the feeder creek or people moving fish, but we still see many good 5-pound-plus fish every time we electrofish at Atkins.”