Fishing has begun across the Razoryak Tournament Trail for 2016 and so far it’s been very competitive, with some familiar and some new names at the top of the standings for early events.
In NW Arkansas, the Arkansas Kayak Anglers kicked off their season on Swepco Lake on an incredibly blustery day. Nathan Bohannon took 1st place and Jason Klingman walked away with big bass. I was one of several anglers who didn’t spend the full day on the water due to the wind and finished 16th out of 61 anglers. My catches came on Yum plastics. For more info, read the tournament recap here.
Western Arkansas Kayak Anglers held their kickoff event on my nemesis lake, Lake Fort Smith. It was a cold, dark and rainy day with a very tough bite – producing almost no limits. Lloyd Mize took 1st, Christa Hibbs 2nd, Benny Williams Sr. 3rd, and Brandon Ward took big bass. My love/hate relationship with Lake Fort Smith continues as I scratched out a 13th place finish out of 31 anglers, catching my fish on a Bandit squarebill.
Kayak Bass Anglers of Central Arkansas has had two events, with Jeff Otts winning the first event, and Terry Brown taking the second. For Twin Lakes Kayak Anglers, Eli Powers took the top spot in their first event of the year. Visit the Razoryak Tournament Trail standings page for up to date rankings on all four trails.
The first event of the 2016 Arkansas Kayak Anglers season is coming soon to SWEPCO Lake and expectations high for a large turnout for this tournament season kick-off. SWEPCO Lake (also known as Lake Flint Creek) is a 530-acre body of water located near Gentry, Arkansas, and is a popular fishery in the winter months thanks to the power plant which keeps the lake temperature higher than other Northwest Arkansas area lakes. This first stop on the RTT-NWA Razoryak Tournament Trail will be held on Sunday, March 6 – visit the RTT-NWA SWEPCO tournament page on Facebook for more information, including start time and entry fee. Last year’s tournament (2015) featured 72 human powered watercraft on a tough post-front bluebird sky day…but the top anglers still turned in some solid limits. Tim Hotchkin turned in 80” for the day to take 1st, with Kyle Fields and Josh Sherrill taking 2nd and 3rd. Will that be enough to win it in 2016? We will soon find out!
SWEPCO has a good population of healthy Florida strain largemouth bass which thrive year-round thanks to the warm water of this power plant lake. During the winter months SWEPCO is a magnet for bass fishermen from all directions who bring their boats and kayaks to this little lake in hopes of some good fishing in the cold weather. Unfortunately, this also means that the fish are highly pressured and by the end of winter they have seen a thousand artificial lures from hundreds of fishermen. This year, water temps are down from their normal totals due to pauses in power generation and local dock talk is saying this has slowed the bite compared to last season.
Fishing SWEPCO for most anglers usually involves a few key areas of the lake, depending on which strategy you wish to employ. The southern end of the lake is lined by a long rip-rap covered dam. The northern end of the lake splits into two large arms, one to the northwest and one to the northeast where the power plant discharge is located – generally providing the warmest water area. From the south to the north end there are many small pockets and coves branching off of the main lake. Wind is almost always a factor on SWEPCO in the late winter and early spring. The lake runs at an angle that allows winds out of the south and southwest to scream up the lake on some days making it tough to hold a kayak position on points or to get back to the ramp by paddling after a long day of fishing.
Razoryak Tournament Trailevents are a fun way to meet other kayak anglers, improve your fishing skills and to enjoy friendly competition on the water. To participate in the event, no advance registration is required; you can show up with your entry fee, hawg trough, camera and kayak on tournament day. Be sure to review all of the information on the NWA-RTT SWEPCO event page and check out the NWA-RTT Schedule for info on future events.
Bending Branches recently posted an article about the significance of the measuring tape on their paddle handles. They list some good uses, although as they point out many tournament anglers use a hawg trough instead for measuring. One use they don’t mention that I rely on from time to time is using the tape measure for a reliable water clarity guide. Sometimes instead of just eyeballing water clarity when kayak fishing, i’ll use the paddle and tape measure to gauge depth visibility.
Kayak Fishing Blog in my opinion produces more consistently good content than anyone on kayak bass fishing, and Chris Payne does the best work. Some other highlights from this week include a guide to CPR Camera Selectionand a Lew’s Reel Giveaway.
Finally, cold water safety when kayaking has been top of mind lately and I ran across this article from about a year ago from Looknfishy. This is a really good breakdown of not only what to have with you in case you get wet, but some other thoughts on what you’ll need if you are out alone, and truly are in a life threatening situation.
Here’s a roundup of some of the things that caught my eye this week that are worth a look from fellow kayak bass fishing anglers:
Tim Hotchkin is once again back with a solid video, this time he is breaking down his approach with drop shot fishing. He’s an excellent drop shot fisherman and I’ve learned a lot from him on the water about this topic. Golden’s Baitsis featured – they make some great plastic bait options. Check out this video for some insider tips:
I’ve recently written a Dobyns Rods review here on this blog, but here is a more comprehensive breakdown on the Dobyns Fury Series by Justin Brouillard that identifies five of the best rod options in this new rod set. I’ve been using a 734C version and like it so much I am currently adding more to my arsenal. This article has been very helpful in reviewing options – hopefully it helps you as well. For value-minded kayak fishing shoppers, Dobyns Fury series is a quality option at a really nice price point.
Safety is always a paramount concern when kayaking, kayak fishing or just paddling. Increased danger emerges in winter when water temps start dropping and flipping your kayak can put you in a life-threatening situation. With the recent news of multiple fatal accidents, I’m hoping people will take extra caution when hitting the water. This article on Dangerous Cold Water Submersion by Chris Payne at Kayak Fishing Blog is a harrowing account of an experience he and his son had in a cold water situation. Additionally, thisarticle and video from Paddling.net are good for anyone who kayaks in the winter to see. Be safe out there!
On a local note, this blog article on Yakfisharkansas.com is a touching story by Katrina DeGraff about why she joined the Arkansas Kayak Anglers and really illustrates the community aspect of kayak fishing. Katrina is a great person and I look forward to continue to get to know her and Luke better at future events.
Here are some of the better recent stories and articles about kayak bass fishing. Take a moment to check out tips, reviews and stories from these online sites:
Kayak fishing requires us to be more efficient with our tackle management. This video from Chad Hoover and the Kayak Fishing Blog gives great insight on how he preps and carries his tackle for a typical shoot.
Yum baits and Alton Jones help us out with some tips and techniques for winter bass fishing. He shares some thoughts on winter fishing and what he’ll be doing this winter to get ready for the upcoming season.
Although I don’t agree with everything stated in the article, this opinion piece on fishing prostaff is thought provoking and worth a read. If considering participating in a fishing or tackle company’s promotional staff or ambassador program, it is good to do your research and know what it means – for both the angler and the company. Article is from Kayak Fishing Blog.
It’s not often that reality matches up with the hype that comes with fishing destinations – but Lake Atkins delivered for me. I’d heard a lot of talk about this up and coming “Big Bass” lake stocked with Florida strain bass in Arkansas, but had not fished there until just recently – and it was impressive.
Lake Atkins was recently the site of the 2015 Arkansas Kayak Anglers State Championship, bringing together qualifiers from local trails for a year end event. The lake is made up of expansive flats which vary from 5 to 12 feet deep, with a small deep end being 20-25 feet around the dam. Standing timber, both visible and submerged, litter the lake from end to end which provides underwater structure everywhere. In addition, much of the shoreline is ringed by cypress trees and small coves and cuts, providing excellent cover for bass. Good luck finding ditches or humps or ledges, because there aren’t many and they are subtle.
Pre-fishing was on a Saturday and Atkins was littered with a kayak fishing fleet determined to unlock the lake’s secrets. Almost all those fishing that day were catching good fish, including 7.6lb and 8lb hogs brought in by yak anglers. I did well that day with a Bandit crankbait and Yum plastics. A cold front came in on tournament day, changing the fishing dynamic and resulting in a tougher bite. Even so, one kayak angler hauled in a massive 24.5″ monster that didn’t even look real. What also impressed me was that good fish were being caught on multiple types of baits, which isn’t always the case on a tough, post-front day.
This lake is definitely worth more visits. Use caution and watch for stumps just below the surface when navigating the lake! Many kayaks were high centered and impaled through scuppers and more than one pedal-kayak was damaged from striking submerged timber. If you need a break, order a good burger or grab some tackle at Lucky Landing, located on the south side of the lake.