NSKA Hickory Creek Tournament Preview

The regular season finale for the Natural State Kayak Anglers will take place on Beaver Lake in the Hickory Creek area. This should be a really interesting format in that it is one of the first times a large kayak tournament has been staged on Beaver Lake where all participants will be in relatively the same area. This is my favorite kind of tourney where all anglers are on the same water in similar conditions. What will a day at the Dead Sea bring?

Hickory Creek on Beaver Lake
Hickory Creek on Beaver Lake. The marina owner and operator is pretty militant about nobody fishing within 50 feet of his docks.
Past Tournament Trends

In 2015, the Arkansas vs Oklahoma Border Battle was held in late summer on Beaver Lake and the results were brutal – Dead Sea in full effect. Of the 48 entries, only FIVE anglers turned in a five fish limit. FIVE! Overall, only 30 anglers (63%) turned in at least one keeper. I was lucky to finish 3rd in this tourney with a paltry 61″ while a total of 66.5″ took the win. Larger fish were hard to come by, with Big Bass being only 15.75″ long.

Previous kayak tournaments on Beaver have historically produced the lowest totals of the year. But the lake has been fishing well up until recently and the NSKA Beaver Lake Road Runner earlier this year put up some really solid totals. With cooler weather over the past few weeks and some unusually high amount of rain for late July and August, the fishing may prove to be a bit better this time around.

In the Zone at Hickory Creek

This tournament will provide you the option to put in anywhere you want – as long as it is at one of the four ramps in the Hickory Creek area shown in the map below. All of these ramps are easily accessible, with the only free one being at the end of Hwy 264 in the north end of the zone. All others will cost you $5 to launch.

NSKA Angler Roundtable

A couple of anglers new to the NSKA trail this year are very familiar with Beaver Lake from fishing bass boat (cough) tournaments so I asked them to helps us evaluate the upcoming event. Cole Sikes and Bo Sarratt and I discussed some of the keys to the upcoming tournament.

The weather has been strange in the Ozarks this summer – What effect do you think that will have on the fishing this Saturday?
Cole –The high water will make Beaver fishing tough in my opinion. The fish have lots of cover to set up on and anglers will get bites few and far between.
Bo –With the cool weather the last week I think that it might bring a few more fish up shallow. There are fish that live shallow all year long but with the high water this year more fish stayed up in the bushes. Finding the right bushes is the key.
Jason – You would think the cooler weather would be improving the fishing and push some shallow. All reports I’ve been getting from anglers seem to indicate the fish are confused and scattered, making it difficult to develop any pattern.
What do you think the hardest part of kayak fishing is (adjusting from bass boat fishing) and how will that come into play this week?
Bo – Going out on beaver in my kayak is overwhelming after fishing in a big boat there all my life. The thing that gets me is that I don’t have the ability to cover water and fighting the wind on the big water. Unfortunately, Beaver is a tough lake and wind is a big key in finding fish that will bite. Easy to fish in the bass boat, not so easy in the kayak.
Cole – The most difficult switch from bass boat to kayak is you have to commit to one area. With a bass boat you can run and gun and hit high percentage areas, with a kayak you have to fish slower and really pick the area apart.
Jason – If I had a bass boat for this event, it would unlock some better ability to fish off shore and more in the main river channel area.  With wind and boat traffic it is difficult in a kayak to do for very long.
Fill in the blank: The angler who wins the tournament on Saturday will have successfully…
Bo – …capitalized on an early morning topwater bite to get a limit. After that it’s going to be about covering water and trying to get a couple good bites the rest of the day.
Cole – …junked fished.
Jason – …found a decent kicker fish to go with four small ones. I do agree with Cole, it will be a junk fishing day with nothing working the entire time.
Predict the following: Winning length, Big Bass and percentage of anglers with limits.
Cole – A limit of 76.25” will take first place, with a Big Bass of 18.5” long. Predicting a tough day with only 15% of anglers turning in a limit.
Bo – I think a 70-72″ limit will get the win. Big Bass length will be 19.75″, and 60% of the anglers will catch limits. Although, the rainy weather that is being forecasted could help the bite.
Jason – Based on people I’ve been talking to who fish Beaver regularly, the lake has fished as tough as it has in quite a while. “It’s back to old Beaver Lake,” said one experienced angler. This info plus the unusually mild weather we’ve been having makes it hard to predict. I’ll say that 74″ will take it, and 2nd place won’t be out of the 60s. Due to the rainy weather, 52% of the field will pull together a keeper and Big Bass will top out at 19.75″ in length.
The tournament begins at 6:00 a.m. and ends at 3:00 p.m. with heavy thunderstorms possible in the forecast. Be safe in the weather and avoid the lake during times of thunder and lightning, catching a fish isn’t worth risking your life. Check out more info on the NSKA Finale – Hickory Creek Facebook page.
Also don’t forget the Razoryak Tournament Trail Arkansas State Championship to be held on October 14 and 15 at Dardanelle. This will be the last year at that venue and will move around the state in future seasons.

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