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 – 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.
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.