The new year is upon us in Northwest Arkansas and that means a challenging season ahead for anglers in the NSKA Tournament trail. This year should be big for the Natural State Kayak Anglers with seven events on beautiful Arkansas waters.
For those who have fished in NSKA the past couple of years you will notice a couple of differences for 2018. The warm and cozy waters of SWEPCO Lake are not on the schedule due to the limited parking situation. Additionally, you better get your Beaver Lake maps out, with three events on the premier lake in the area.
Before diving into each tournament on the schedule, here’s a snapshot of the NSKA Tournament events for 2018. Mark them on your calendar now:
- March 10 – Beaver Lake South
- April 21 – Lake Fort Smith
- May 12 – NWA Road Runner
- June 16 – Beaver Lake
- July 14 – Draw Four
- August 4 – Beaver Lake North
- September 8 – Table Rock (Beaver Town)
NSKA Tournament Schedule Analysis
Beaver Lake South – As mentioned, in previous years SWEPCO Lake kicked off the season and bass were easy to catch in the warm waters in early March. This year will be a different challenge with Beaver Lake South up first. Water should still be a bit chilly and the bass might still be sluggish. The zone for fishing this event is the Hwy 12 bridge and south. We’ll see what the #deadsea has in store for us this year.
Lake Fort Smith – Back on the schedule for 2018 is Lake Fort Smith, a beautiful mountain lake south of the Bobby Hopper tunnel. April showers bring flowers, but they also can bring muddy waters to this usually clear fishery. One of the great things about this event is it will be a shotgun start from the ramp area which makes for a spectacle. I’m not going to lie, this is a weird lake and I used to dislike it…but really missed it last year. It has a bit of everything from deep bluffs to standing timber to creek run-ins to grass edges. Keep your head on a swivel, there’s a reason some refer to it as Snake Fort Smith.
NWA Road Runner – The glitter boat crossovers had their advantage back on Beaver Lake South, but now the hardcore kayak anglers get their turn. With a true NWA Road Runner, kayaks can be put in almost anywhere in pubic waters. Tiny lakes or rivers with secret spots come into play here as NSKA anglers will scatter across the area to pick the type of water and situation they think will produce on tournament day. That deep brushpile on your favorite body of water that only you know about might be the winning ingredient. Kayak heavy lakes like Lincoln, Siloam Springs, Wilson, Crystal Lake and Elmdale will have a part to play in the outcome. Swepco doesn’t follow the traditional seasonal patterns of the other lakes and will be off-limits for the road runner.
Beaver Lake – Access to the full lake for the June event should really allow anglers to choose how they want to fish the lake. From the clear water and smallmouth central at the dam all the way up to the river will provide a multitude of options. June is a beautiful time of year on Beaver, but is also buzzing with activity from fishermen to the party crowd. Most of the lake will be well into post-spawn time which could make things tough, but I think NSKA anglers will find a way to pull in some big limits. An added bonus to this date is that it coincides with a KBF Open on Beaver Lake same day, so anglers could fish both events should you so choose.
Draw Four – My absolute favorite event of the year is the Draw Four road runner. All participants will draw from one of four area lakes right before tournament time and that will decide where each angler will fish. The Draw Four lakes have not yet been determined, but will be announced well before tournament weekend so people can prepare. Doing well in this event means that you are able to quickly adapt to whatever water luck has chosen for you. Being in July, you better catch’em early in the day…
Beaver Lake North – This one will be the grinder of the season and a good test for anglers. Beaver Lake in August is usually in full #deadsea mode and is an opportunity to see who really can put fish into the kayak. Smallmouth up near the dam area might be the key for this time of year. By this event the Anger of the Year race should be taking shape and the top contenders may be able to seal the deal with a good day on Beaver Lake. Fishing in this one will be limited to the Hwy 12 bridge and the dam.
Table Rock (Beaver Town) – In my opinion the most scenic venue of the year for NSKA Tournaments. If you haven’t kayak fished around Beaver Town, you need to check it out. There are some big fish lurking in these skinny waters between Beaver Lake and Table Rock. This unique area allows you to fish current or find still waters if that’s more to your liking. Another shotgun start, this is a fun final event to bring everyone together. Each year there is also a big camp out at Beaver Town that weekend for anglers to fellowship. Watch for more details.
Looking Forward To The Season
Here’s looking toward a great NSKA season, watch the blog for more individual tournament previews and recaps throughout the year.