Category Archives: Tournaments

2017 Tournament of Champions at Lake Fork – Preview

As the temperatures turn cooler and the leaves begin to reveal their fall colors, the time is at hand for many of the nation’s top tournament kayak anglers to descend on legendary Lake Fork for the Yak4It Tournament of Champions (TOC) presented by Mariner Sails. This invitation-only event pits the best kayak anglers from various qualifying groups around the country. Year five of the TOC will potentially be its biggest and most competitive event – and as always requiring the biggest keeper size in tournament kayak fishing at 14” long.

Competition will begin on Friday, November 3, for anglers who are trying to fish their way in to the exclusive Main Event that weekend. Because the TOC is not open to the public for entry, this is a last chance to earn the right to compete for the big prize over the weekend. This will be my third year pre-qualified for the Main Event through AKA/NSKA, and I’m glad I don’t have the pressure that’s on these anglers to make it happen in the one day qualifier. Those who are not pre-qualified and want to give it a go, check out the Open sign up page on iAnglerTournament.com.

The weekend of November 4/5 brings the Main Event which is for all the marbles and the bragging rights. In 2015 and 2016, there was a total payout in cash and prizes of more than $23,000 – meaning lots of cash and prizes to be claimed by successful anglers. A similar prize pool should be available in 2017 and will be a career highlight for the winner. Anglers already qualified for the Main Event should register at iAnglerTournament.com prior to the event date and will need to attend the captain’s meeting on Friday night at 7:00 p.m.

There will be several changes this year to the event based on angler feedback to make it smoother and a better angler experience. The biggest change is moving the scoring over to the iAnglerTournament app allowing for mobile photo submissions, live leaderboard, and speeding up the flow of weigh-in. Some other notable changes are the extended off-limits period, opening the lake to any public launch site, and there will be a change to the identifier process to simplify the photo taking process. More details about the event itself will be made in coming weeks. Follow the news at the TOC Facebook page.

What Makes TOC Special?

For me, it is because it is different than any other event I fish all year long. For a more big-picture perspective, I asked the tournament director, Cody Prather. “The Yak4it Tournament of Champions is a special tournament that has grown through the commitment of anglers from across the country into one of the highest level events that kayak bass fishing has ever seen,” he explains. “I consider this a very organic tournament because no one person has made it one of the best events we have. It has been cultivated, embraced, and influenced by every angler from every region coming out to help it grow. It is a meeting place for anglers to see old friends, make new friends, and share a passion for a sport we a love. The Tournament of Champions really stands out because it is not always easy to earn a spot, and there is a lot of prestige in that invitation.”

What Will It Take To Win?

In short, maybe a little or maybe a lot will take home the main prize. Both have been true in past events. One of the things that make this tournament difficult is the requirement for a 14” keeper, which is generally larger than most kayak circuits. The TOC in 2015 only 43 of the 91 entrants (47%) even recorded a keeper, and only three anglers (3%) turned in a limit. Clinton Holstein took first place with 90.75” in this one-day tournament. Fish were more cooperative in the 2016 two day event. On day one, 84 of the 122 (69%) recorded keeper and 13 anglers (11%) turned in a limit. On day two it got tougher, with only 40% turning in keepers and 3% with a limit. Only four anglers had a limit on both days. Aaron Spry took the top spot with 91” on day one and 89” on day two totaling 180” for the weekend.

What about big bass? Yes, Fork has them. Last year the largest bass turned in was a 25.50” behemoth and there were 35 bass 20” or larger turned in.

Cody Prather, tournament director, believes this could be a breakthrough year. “Lake Fork is historically known as one of the best big bass lakes in the world, and there have been a lot of big fish caught during the Tournament of Champions,” said Prather. “In the past, it has been hard for anglers to break that 90 inch mark during the tournament because we have never hit the perfect conditions. I think this year we have the potential for it to take a two day total of over 200 inches, but I bet it takes at least 194 inches to win. Look out for a big bass to push 26 inches to take the Big Bass prize.”

About Lake Fork

Pedal drives beware what lurks beneath the water at Lake Fork. Photo credit: Lake Fork Resort

This will only be my third trip to Lake Fork, so I in no way have it figured out. It’s a big lake in a kayak, with many creek arms feeding an always windy main lake area. With more than 80% of the original timber still standing in the lake from when it was flooded and stocked in its first few years with more than 735,000 fish, it makes a fantastic fishing habitat and is known for growing giant double-digit bass. Talking with successful anglers from previous years, there doesn’t seem to be a reliable spot or pattern to depend on, it will be important to figure out the conditions during tournament week in order to find the fish. Weather conditions have made fishing difficult during the last two trips with a severe cold front in 2015 and post-front bluebird skies in 2016. Owners of pedal-powered kayaks beware – last year many Hobie drives (and a few PDL prop blades) were wrecked by the underwater stumps and trees. The tournament home base is the Lake Fork Marina & Motel, which is a nice little fishing haven – read my review from last year.

A Brief History of the TOC

2016 Yak4It Tournament of Champions winner Aaron Spry.

One of kayak bass fishing’s premier events sprung from humble beginnings. The Professional Kayak Anglers Association (PKAA) with Rob McFarren began the event in 2013 as the “PKAA True Tournament of Champtions” which included 22 anglers from the area. The next year, Beau Reed and Capital City Kayak Fishing (CCKF) took over the TOC and made some key changes, creating the “Tournament of Champions” and making it an invitation-only style event. This is where the TOC took off and gained in participation – bringing together elite kayak anglers and had 52 anglers in 2014, and showed even more growth in 2015 with 91 entrants. Beau Reed passed it to current tournament director Cody Prather for the 2016 event, which grew to a field of 122 top kayak fishermen.

What is in store for 2017 and what will the field look like?

Unfortunately KBF also has a competing event scheduled on the same weekend at Toledo Bend, which could draw some anglers away from TOC. Cody Prather believes TOC will see similar participation levels thanks to many who have committed to return and due to some new club affiliations and promotional partners. “It is much more difficult to earn an invitation to the TOC than it is to qualify for the KBF National Championship,” Prather explains. “I personally consider the TOC to be the true National Championship event in the country because it truly represents the top anglers in the country.”

I as a participant also agree that TOC has an important place in the kayak fishing landscape and I’m pleased to have earned the right to fish both in the TOC  at Lake Fork in November and in the KBF National Championship next March at Kentucky Lake. This year I’ve fished four KBF in-person events and 14 online KBF challenges and really enjoy the KBF events. Hopefully both the TOC and KBF can continue to thrive many years into the future.

What Will Happen

Who knows which angler will win, or if they will be peddle or paddle, or if many limits will be caught? I do know a few things will happen at TOC:
• There will be many, many slices of pie eaten at Tiffany’s restaurant
• Someone will be stock-blocking the shelves at the tackle shops
• Many Hobie drives will lose a battle with a tough Texas tree
• Big ones will be caught, and some will get away
• Anglers will greet, meet and compete at a world-class event

Watch for post-event coverage after the TOC on kayakfishingfocus.com

KBF Bella Vista Tournament Recap

Bella Vista, Arkansas, hosted its first ever kayak bass fishing event with the Kayak Bass Fishing (KBF) night tournament on June 3. Bella Vista lakes are accessible by members, their guests or others who purchase a public use pass from the POA. Anglers could choose from five different lakes and fished from 4:00 p.m. until midnight. Six states were represented on the water for this unique KBF Trail stop.

The tournament started off with a rain shower and thunderstorms which cleared up as the evening wore on. Anglers were fairly spread out among the five lakes, with the most at Lake Ann, which totaled 15 by my count.  After all the fishing wrapped up, we were left with a LOT of small bass and one gigantic largemouth.

Of the 39 registered participants, 22 (56%) turned in a limit, while 32 (82%) carded a keeper.  Big fish were in short supply, and smaller ones dominated the limits – with only NINE of almost 200 fish submitted being 16″ or larger. In the weeks leading up to the event, I had predicted 77″ to win the tournament, and almost got it right on the nose.

Dwain Batey took first with 76.25″, Chris Jones second with 74.25″ and Cody Milton turned in 74″ for third. Cody also took big bass with a 24.75″ monster bass caught at Lake Brittany. Watch for an article later this week for more details about how he caught this 10+ lb behemoth. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The top ten finishers were as follows:

  1.  Dwain Batey
  2.  Chris Jones
  3.  Cody Milton
  4.  Jason Cossey
  5.  Roy Roberts
  6.  Justin Phillips
  7.  Nathan Henthorn
  8.  Jason Adams
  9.  Brendan Johnson
  10.  Chad Warford

I made a very last minute decision and started out with Lake Ann, overall having a poor performance. Finishing 13th, it didn’t help that I lost at least 5-6 fish off the hook, but none would have put me on top. Overall, a scattered and not very clean tourney on my end.

Here are some recaps by the top three anglers:

Dwain – Having only pre-fished one day on Lake Ann, which didn’t impress me, I chose to fish lake Rayburn, only because someone had said it had some color to it, and wasn’t as clear as the others. (Author’s note – this may have been me, Dwain probably owes me a %)  My original plan was to switch over to Lake Brittany after dark, but based on the live scoring at TourneyX I decided that Brittany wasn’t fishing any better other than Cody’s monster of course, so I stuck it out the whole time at Rayburn. I started off fishing a Skirmish Baits prototype glide bait that has been on fire last month for me. I had heard that these lakes had a lot of small fish, and I was trying to attract above average fish. I had several fish swipe at that bait and even stuck what would have easily been my biggest fish, but it pulled off under the boat. After sticking with that bait for about two hours I finally caught three on it, including one of my best fish for the night. I finally switched over to the Skirmish Baits M9-OK (one knocker) squarebill, and filled out my limit, and started culling fish. This bait too seemed to be catching fish above average for me, and I found a few places that seemed to be holding better fish than most of the lake. After dark, I switched over to a buzz bait and caught another 15 fish or so, but only one of them would cull up for me.

Cody – I chose Brittany because of how clear the water was. I thought it would be slow during the day but have a chance at better fish at night. During the daylight hours I fished in the middle of the lake over 60-70 feet. The fish would stay suspended in 7 feet if they weren’t schooling. You could mark 3-5 fish and throw back to them and catch them pretty easy.  I used a wacky rig senko to catch all of them.  After dark I threw a jig with a black D bomb trailer. I focused on any hard bottom that was close to 60ft of water. The most hard bottom was the dam, so I just went back and forth on it. I assumed the trout had to be in that deepest area and I wanted to stay close to them. Especially after hearing of the giants that live in Brittany. Thankfully I came across one throwing directly at the boat ramp next to the dock.

Chris – I chose Ann mainly due to word of mouth from the bait store up there and I liked that it was bigger in size. I threw a popper in the rain under the trees for some keepers then when the sun came out I threw a 5-6 foot crankbait bluegill colors for a lot of fish mostly small though. 2 of my best fish came after dark on the new 110 size whopper plopper, loon(black) was the color. I noticed a lot of bait in 2 coves and I mainly focused on them. I caught about 20 fish but most were 12″ fish.

Overall this was a cool event and gave several anglers their first taste of Bella Vista fishing. The Bella Vista POA seemed pleased with the outcome and it may lead to another tournament in the future. Although it likely dispelled the rumors of lakes stocked with schools of big bass, this event did show the lakes have a good keeper sized fish population – and at least one giant.

KBF Bella Vista Night Tournament Preview

A unique event is coming to the Ozarks with the Kayak Bass Fishing (KBF) Trail stop in Bella Vista, Arkansas.  This is the first KBF event of this kind – a live night fishing tournament with a road runner format allowing anglers to choose where they fish among five of the Bella Vista area lakes.

The KBF Trail – Bella Vista tournament takes place from 4:00 p.m. until 12 midnight and will start and end from the Lake Avalon pavilion. The lakes in play for Bella Vista include:

  1. Lake Avalon – 67 acres/50 feet maximum depth
  2. Lake Ann – 112 acres/53 feet maximum depth
  3. Lake Britney – 37 acres/75 feet maximum depth
  4. Lake Rayburn – 45 acres/75 feet maximum depth
  5. Lake Norwood – 33 acres/79 feet maximum depth

From my experience in Bella Vista fishing, these lakes are well managed and most anglers will definitely catch fish. Finding bigger fish is going to be key, as they can be somewhat rare in these five lakes. Four average fish and a good kicker might win the event. All of the Bella Vista lakes are managed by the Property Owners Association (POA) and are accessible to members, guests and the general public who purchase a use permit.

Jason Adams, kayak angler from the Bella Vista area, has been key in helping establish this KBF Trail stop. We asked Jason for his insights on the area and the upcoming tournament.

What made you want to bring a KBF tournament to Bella Vista?

We wanted to bring an event to Bella Vista because not many people have fished these lakes. The lakes are very well managed and beautiful docks line the most of the banks making for great cover for bass. These lakes are very small in scale and kayaks can reach every piece of water better than a bass boat.

I approached the Bella Vista POA about allowing kayak tournaments on Bella Vista lakes about a year ago. It wasn’t not something that just happened. Once I was able to walk them through the process, they responded very favorably. Rick, the Lake Biologist, really liked the idea that the fish are photographed and released immediately. That way we can share the catch data we collect from the tournament results back to them for a better understanding of the fish population.  The overall vision was to create something that could benefit Bella Vista and kayak anglers alike. We got approval for two dates, one for this event in the spring and one in the fall. If the first one is a success, we may get an opportunity to host additional events.

We also knew we had to swim upstream by providing the kayak community something different than what has been done in the past.  We have been working on hosting an event in Bella Vista for some time when KBF announced they were looking for additional opportunities to grow the Trail events. So we jumped at the opportunity. KBF has blazed the path on creating and standardizing kayak bass tournaments with rules that are widely accepted across the nation. When someone travels to the different KBF Trail events, they know what to expect because rules are the same.

Can you explain the options for anglers to pre-fish the lakes?

Anyone can enjoy fishing at Bella Vista lakes by purchasing a fishing permit. For pre-fishing, just go by the POA office during business hours and purchase your permit in person, or call (479) 855-8000 to purchase and receive by mail. Mention you are with KBF and that you need to get a use permit. Lake Rangers patrol the boat ramps and fishing docks, and if stopped, they will ask for your permit. Its best to have your permit in advance through the POA office, but the rangers can issue permits on the spot as well. Pre-fishing permits are available for the day ($6), week ($17) or month ($39) with a kayak daily ($8) or weekly ($17) registration. Lake use permit for tournament day is payable when registering through TourneyX.

Why a night tournament, and what do you think makes a night event special?

Bella Vista lakes are perfect for night fishing. There are many docks on these lakes and the lights shimmer across the water making it a beautiful sight. The moon phase will be at 67% that night so it will be even more beautiful. The fact these lakes are small in size and are no-wake lakes makes them safer and more accessible to kayaks at night than larger bodies of water.

What are some other important aspects of the KBF Bella Vista event participants should know?

In addition to the opportunity to win prize money and spots in the 2018 KBF National Championship, there will also be a drawing for a Nucanoe Pursuit, and all participating anglers will be automatically entered. If we reach 100 registered anglers, the tournament winner will also walk away with a NuCanoe Pursuit!

There is a Big Bass Brawl for an additional $20 that benefits Heroes On The Water. This helps fund events like the one taking place on June 4th at Lake Norwood in Bella Vista, where the Northwest Arkansas HOW Chapter will be taking out veterans and first-responders for a relaxing day on the water to fish out of a kayak.

The tournament is being put on and hosted by the Fish It Forward. Fish It Forward is a non-profit organization created to put a fishing pole in the hands of kids regardless of their ability to pay. We have a strong community of volunteers in Northwest Arkansas and major supporters like the Walton Foundation.

Where can you find more information?

Event Page/Rules – TourneyX Page – Facebook Page

 

NSKA NWA Road Runner Recap

The NSKA NWA Road Runner took place on a post-front day with bluebird skies but that didn’t keep these kayak anglers from catching a lot of fish. The trend for 2017 continued with higher catch totals than in previous years. For those of you who don’t do the weekly Yakpot, it seemed to have been key for the top performers this time around.

Dwain Batey took 1st again with 93.75″ on Lake Elmdale, while Cole Sikes finished 2nd on Elmdale as well with 85.50″ and Big Bass with a 23.50″ monster.  Craig Richardson and Brayden Richardson finished 3rd and 4th with 85.25″ each at SWEPCO Lake.

A whopping 66% of the field turned in a limit, showing that when these kayak anglers can choose their spot, fish will be caught.

The top 10 was as follows:

  1. Dwain Batey
  2. Cole Sikes
  3. Craig Richardson
  4. Brayden Richardson
  5. Justin Wright
  6. Roy Roberts
  7. William Jones
  8. Baron Meek
  9. Robert Murphy
  10. David Preston

The top anglers shared their recaps on the day. Great summaries by Dwain Batey, Cole Sikes and Craig Richardson.

Dwain – There was a cold front, quickly clearing water, and ridiculous fishing pressure to deal with at Lake Elmdale, but knowing all of that I still decided I was “on them” enough to catch fish with the changing conditions and behind other boats and kayaks. My plan to fish Elmdale began with the awesome day that many of us had at the weekly Yakpot the week before, the water was high and muddy, and the fish were shallow and eating. I checked it again on Friday, and Sunday, and continued to refine my presentation each trip. I was very worried that the water would be too clear for those very shallow fish to remain that shallow by the event day, but I resisted the urge to check them again before the off limits period started. I pedaled out to my best area before start time, and was waiting there when it was time for the first cast.

I only got a couple of bites fishing through my best stuff, and didn’t put any of them in the boat. Just beyond my best area I caught a couple of 10+” to break this ice, but then I had to skip the next 150 yards of that bank because there were a series of boats and kayaks fishing that stretch. Moving on down to the next free area I finally connected with a few decent fish on the jig. Even down there I was fishing behind two bass boats that were both fishing similarly, pitching something into the same cover. Catching fish behind them really gave me confidence that I was doing something right, and different enough to catch fish with the heavy fishing pressure of the day. I made another pass down the entire stretch, and picked up a couple more fish then near the very end of it put my best fish in the boat, a 20.25″ that really anchored my bag for the day (this was at 10 a.m.).

After that I didn’t boat another fish that would cull until I found one fish away from my area on a deeper bank at 1 pm. While I had a serious game plan with several different lures, it turned out that all I needed was my jig. It was a black and blue Missile Jig, which is compact in size and profile but matched the fall rate of the larger jig I was using the week before. My trailer was a Reaction Innovations Smallie Beaver in a matching color. I wanted the smaller jig, and no kicking legs on the trailer because the fishing pressure and the clearing water put the brakes on the activity level of the bass. The cover that the fish were holding on also continued to change as the water cleared and fell. The first trip last week the fish were holding on vertical wood cover that was approx. 2 to 4 inches diameter, the next day they were on the base of the really big stumps/trees that were 2 to 4 feet diameter, but on the day of the tournament they had moved to the bushy stuff that was very sparse and was under ½ inch diameter. Another big change was, last week in the dirty water fish were biting the bait on the drop, and during the tournament you’d have to let it go to the bottom and hop/drag it some to get a bite.

After the sun got up and really showed how clear the water was, I really couldn’t believe that those fish were still up in a foot of water and biting the morning of the tournament, but I’m glad that I didn’t know until after I’d caught them, it could have ruined my confidence in the area to see that early in the day, but luckily it still looked dirty in the low light of the early morning when I was doing my damage. While everyone expects me to catch my fish on a Skirmish Baits M9 squarebill crankbait (and that’s usually the case) it’s nice to show some diversity and catch some fish on a slower bait once in a while.

Cole – I ended up choosing Lake Elmdale because it’s the lake I know the best outside of Beaver Lake and I had one of my best fishing trips while fishing the Weekly YakPot tournament the week before. From my experience in the past, Lake Elmdale doesn’t usually have an abundance of quality fish (18+”) but this year the lake has been on fire.

Conditions played a big role in my overall strategy. The sun and no wind always makes it a grind so I knew the early morning bite would be key. In the morning I tried to flip my jig by every piece of cover up shallow while I knew the bank was going to get hit hard by other weekend anglers. This worked for me but only was able to manage to catch some average 15” keepers. Once the shallow bite got tough, I started fishing out deeper on points and pockets hoping to catch a key kicker.

This move worked out well for me while I caught my kicker fish in a mouth of a pocket using a jig around laydowns that were not visible to the human eye. The fish was an 8.5″ cull and moved me from 13th to a 2nd place finish.  My key baits for the day were BassX Jigs with Zoom Ultra Vibe Speed Craw trailers.

Craig – Decided to hit Swepco because for some reason it doesn’t seem to get all muddied up after rains like some of the other lakes. Brayden and I found the fish pretty quickly in the coves, mostly in a little deeper water on secondary points and structure. As the day heated up and the sun came out, the fish moved up into the flooded vegetation in the same areas. We were able to catch them all day throwing a wacky rig.

River Valley Road Runner

On the same day as NWA events, there is another tourney for those south of the Bobby Hopper Tunnel. Congratulations as well to the NSKA River Valley Road Runner Winners:

  • 1st – Chris Nemeth with 89″
  • 2nd – Christa Hibbs with 83.5″
  • 3rd – Chris Jones with 72″
  • Big Bass – Josh Baker with 22.25″

As for me, this is easily one of my worst decision making tournaments ever. Although I caught several fish, I made a last minute decision on the lake I chose and the area of the lake where I wanted to start. On that day I used a lot of go-to techniques and caught small fish but it just didn’t work for the bigger ones. By the time I adjusted the sun was out and it was just too late. Hopefully we all learned something in this event that will help us down the road.

Thank you to Jeff Malott for putting on a well organized and fun event so that we can all have some fun.

NWA Roadrunner – NSKA Preview

The Natural State Kayak Anglers (NSKA) hit the road for the next tournament to be held on Saturday, May 13 – with a Northwest Arkansas road runner event. Because of recent flooding, the River Run was postponed until later in the season and the road runner moved up in its place. Many lakes are in play and are good options for this choose your own adventure kayak fishing tournament.

Participants may choose from almost any publicly accessible body of water within a 30 mile radius (with the exception of Bella Vista lakes) including some newly approved lakes for this season. The NSKA NWA Road Runner is one of my favorite events because it allows everyone to choose an option that fits their style, and should result in a decent overall winning total.

Choose Your Own Adventure

Here are some of the primary options anglers will be considering for tournament day:

Lake Bob Kidd – I haven’t fished this lake much but it has been in the mix each time there’s been a road runner. There are some big bass in this lake and if you like vegetation and wood structure, it is a great option.

Lincoln Lake – To me this is the undisputed “Big Bass” lake in Northwest Arkansas. On average you will catch a bigger fish here than anywhere else. If it is on, the winner will likely come from Lincoln Lake.

SWEPCO Lake fatty.
SWEPCO Lake fatty.

SWEPCO Lake – The only other lake on the list which could challenge Lincoln for large numbers of big fish. This lake’s going to be a bit warmer than some others, but hasn’t heated up too much yet for the summer. A big limit could be filled quickly here, but every once in a while these bass can get tight lipped.

Lake Elmdale – Easily accessed from I-49, this is a very popular lake, meaning it gets tons of pressure and can get quite crowded. (I counted 28 cars in the lot the last time I was there) It’s a solid lake that can at times produce good fishing, however, it has never really produced top results in a road runner style tournament. Will see what this year brings.

Crystal Lake – Gaining a lot of respect in recent tournaments, this gem of a little lake is near Decatur. I’ve fished it twice in road runners, making top five in both events. Not many giant bass like Lincoln and Swepco, but a very healthy population of keepers packed into a lake of manageable size.

Beaver Lake – Here we go…this will be interesting to see who heads to Beaver Lake and rolls the dice.  Historically Beaver Lake has factored in to the top places in road runner events – there’s no doubt it has fish and some really good ones. The person who can find some bass at Beaver might roll a seven and win this thing.

Wildcards – Some lesser known lakes are also in the mix and options for competitors: Wilson, Wedington, Lake Fayetteville, Lake Sequoya, Lake Prairie Grove and Siloam City Lake are all possibilities. (note – am told Lake Prairie Grove is currently closed)

Historical Look Back

In 2015, my first year with AKA/NSKA, the first roadrunner was earlier in the spring (April 14) and Lake Swepco was off-limits as an option. The winning angler fished the upper Beaver Lake area near War Eagle, 2nd place came from Lake Bob Kidd, 3rd place from Crystal Lake, 4th place from Lincoln Lake/Bob Kidd and 5th place from Lincoln Lake. It took close to 80″ to win this event.

In 2016, some of the same lakes produced the top results. Although I don’t have the order of finish, I do know that Beaver Lake produced the winner with approximately 86″ and Lake Bob Kidd, Siloam City Lake and Swepco Lake were in the mix for the other top finishers.

Not a real road-runner but the NWA Draw Four tournament featured Lincoln Lake, Crystal Lake, Lake Elmdale and Lake Bob Kidd. 1st came out of Crystal Lake with 2nd and 3rd coming from Lake Bob Kidd I believe.  Mid-70s was required to win this one.

NSKA Predictions

Northwest Arkansas kayak anglers Tim Hotchkin and Rob Bomstead weighed in along with me on what to expect this weekend:

What top two lakes do you think will produce the winner?

  • Jason – Based on historical data, the winner will come from Beaver Lake, Swepco or Lincoln. I’m betting Lincoln this year.
  • Tim – Swepco or Elmdale. Swepco stayed pretty clear after all the rain it’s just high from the rain. Elmdale has had alot of success lately so it will draw a lot of anglers.
  • Rob – I think Beaver or Swepco will produce the winner, although a smaller sleeper lake may surprise us all.

How does a road runner change your strategy?

  • Jason – Normally it is about finding the type of water you want to fish, but this year it is all up and dirtier than normal, so not as much of an issue.
  • Tim – It doesn’t change my strategy. If anything it helps me. I can to to whatever lake I feel confident in based on our recent weather changes and lake elevations due to all the rain.
  • Rob – Weather, water temp, water clarity, recent catches and wind all are part of the decision, however, personal confidence in a body of water and fishing how I like to fish play an important role.

Recent rains have muddied up about everywhere except Swepco, how will that affect things?

  • Jason – I think this is going to drive overall size totals higher than normal and some will catch a lot of fish. This won’t be a grind it out just for a limit in clear water event.
  • Tim – It will put a lot of stress on some anglers as their normal waters may not be fishable.  A lot of anglers may have to change their styles which could cause some anglers to try techniques they are not used to.
  • Rob – The rains definitely have changed the game plan, but good weather this week hopefully will calm things down and we should see some clearing of the water a bit.

Winning length and big bass size?

  • Jason – 86.5″ to win and a 20.75″ big bass
  • Tim – Winning Length: 78″ with a 21″ big bass
  • Rob – This group has some great anglers and I would be hard pressed not to believe someone will have them figured out. I’m going to say just over 98″ and big bass will be 22.5″

What is the key bait?

  • Jason – Spinnerbait or jig
  • Tim – Texas rigged creature bait.
  • Rob – Jig and crankbait.

KBF Beaver Lake Tournament Recap – It’s Alive!

Dead Sea? Not on this particular Saturday in April when a fickle Beaver Lake decided to give up some nice bass to an armada of kayak anglers battled high winds and a 100+ bass boat tournament.

In the tournament preview it was clear that past kayak fishing tournaments on Beaver Lake have not produced big numbers, and catching a limit usually put you in the top 20. Not this year. The fish are moving up to spawn, were active up shallow and anglers took advantage.

All but eight of the 73 of those entered carded a fish (89%) and a whopping 38 (52%) anglers turned in a limit. These are outstanding numbers not only for Beaver Lake but for any fishing tournament. The only bigger shock than the number of fish caught was a 22.25″ largemouth bass caught by Nathan Henthorn. The tail was so torn and bloodied it was likely a 23″ fish if it hadn’t just spawned out. At the weigh-in many were surprised to see a bass of that size out of Beaver.

Nathan Henthorn's 22.25" Beaver Lake pig.
Nathan Henthorn’s 22.25″ Beaver Lake pig.

First place went to Dwain Batey with 89.50″, second to Craig Wood with 89.25″ and third to Nathan Henthorn with 87″ on the board.

Top 10 Finishers
  1. Dwain Batey (AR)
  2. Craig Wood (AR)
  3. Nathan Henthorn (OK)
  4. Jerry Cornelius (MO)
  5. Justin Coon (MO)
  6. Cody Milton (AR)
  7. Jose Rodriguez (OK)
  8. Gary Kasper (OK)
  9. Jason Cossey (AR)
  10. Carson McBride (AR)

The top 20 was made up of 11 anglers from Arkansas, 3 from Oklahoma, 2 from Missouri, 2 from Kansas, 1 from Texas, and 1 from Tennessee.

View complete tournament results for the KBF Beaver Lake event here.  

Tournament Recaps

Dwain, Craig and Nathan provided some details of how they finished in the top spots:

Dwain – My first bite of the morning was on the Skirmish Baits M9 squarebill in the Army Green Craw color, and it was the 21.50” kicker fish. That bite alone really helped me keep my head in the game the rest of the day. I managed to get my first 3 fish on that bait, but as the day went on the bite shifted away from the crankbait and I started putting fish in the kayak with a shaky head. I was using a Netbait 6 inch straight tailed worm in a green pumpkin/blue swirl, but my key was using a spike-it marker to put some orange on the bait to closer match the crankbait color I was using. Rather than putting the orange on the tail, I marked about the first ½” of the head of the worm with the orange to put the focus near the hook. I was catching my shaky head fish around docks in Prairie Creek. Late in the day I managed to catch one last fish on the M9 that give me a cull up of 1/4” which turned out to be my margin of victory in the end.

Nathan – After doing some Google Maps research, I decided to put in at Horseshoe Bend and fish some of the coves across the main lake from it. My plan was to try to fish for the winning fish and leave the little spotted bass and spinning rod alone. I picked up a good 18.5 inch fish on Skirmish M9 in Goldilocks early. Shortly after I caught the 22.25 and the 18.75 on back to back casts to the same tree. Those fish hit a Booyah jig with a Zoom Z Craw trailer. Unfortunately, after that it was a bunch of small fish for me, and I caught keepers on a variety of baits, mostly the jig and squarebill though.

Craig – I pre-fished three key areas on the south end of the lake with gale force winds all day was able to rule out two last weekend. I couldn’t have been so effective without my Hobie Pro Angler in those conditions. I decided to go to a spot that produced several chunky bass in pre-fishing. It paid off, and a hundred yard stretch netted my entire length for the tournament. Slowtown custom jigs was the bait used.

On To The Next Event

I finished with a small limit of 69.50″ and 26th, just couldn’t find the right fish on the day. Overall it was a great KBF event in Arkansas and hope to see more in the future on Beaver Lake. There is another KBF event in Bella Vista on June 3 which is a night tournament, should be an interesting time! Check it out.