Tag Archives: Arkansas

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

 

Carolina Rigging for Trout in Arkansas

Rainbow Trout Caught on Carolina Rig at Lake Atalanta, Rogers Arkansas
Arkansas lake Rainbow Trout.

Fishing in Arkansas during January can be a hit or miss situation with the weather. One day it could be mild and in the 50s and the next day you may encounter sleet and ice and below freezing temperatures. One thing that you can count on is lake water temps dropping well into the low 40s and even the high 30s in some small lakes.

This is a great time of year to do some trout fishing in Northwest Arkansas, either in the White River tailwaters of Beaver or Table Rock lake or in some select clear water lakes in the area like Lake Atalanta in Rogers.

As primarily a bass fisherman I don’t own a fly rod, but you can use some bass techniques for some easy trout fishing. One of these techniques is to fish Carolina-style, but with a different and more finesse setup.

Owner Fishing Hooks - Mosquito size 8 Model 5177-031
Use size 8 or 6 hook.

One of the keys to making this work is to have a good quality sharp hook in the appropriate size. When using an egg-style floating bait, I’d select an Owner Mosquito Hook in size 8, or size 6 if you prefer. These Owner hooks are reliable and needle-sharp which is critical in a situation like this. They also have very small barbs that are easily pinched down depending on the waters you fish. If your local tackle store doesn’t carry these, you can find Owner Hooks on Tackle Warehouse.

Simply set up your rig by using a lightweight spinning rod and Shimano reel and attach a small swivel to a 4lb (try P-Line) leader with a small bullet weight and glass bead on the main line. Tie your Owner Mosquito hook to your leader, making it anywhere from 1 to 3 feet depending on water depth. Apply your floating bait egg

Close up of Owner hook in Rainbow Trout Caught on Carolina Rig at Lake Atalanta, Rogers Arkansas
The Owner Mosquito Hook in size 8 is the perfect small size for trout, but is needle sharp for a nice hookset.

on the hook, adjusting so just the tip of the hook is showing.

To fish it, simply toss it upstream in a current allowing it to then slowly bounce along back to you, taking up slack as it goes. This is a great system for fishing ponds or lakes with trout because you can either cast it out and leave it until you get a bite, or periodically move it a bit. The floating bait will look like a natural snack for the trout. Once you get a bite, the sharp Owner hook doesn’t require a strong hookset.

Give this technique a try the next time you want to try some trout fishing on a cold day. It’s an easy transition for a bass fisherman to find some success with trout.

Lake Fort Smith Tournament Preview with Brandon and Kyle

Next up on the Razoryak Tournament Trail for AKA and WAKA is a big-time event on the infamous Lake Fort Smith. I’ve asked kayak tournament anglers Kyle Fields (AKA) and Brandon Ward (WAKA) to give their thoughts on the lake, their strategies and what it will take to win. This event is big because points count toward AOY points in each trail. Another record turnout is possible, depending on weather conditions.

LakeFSM
Competitors should get used to this water color.

For more general info on my nemesis, Lake Fort Smith, check out a preview posted earlier in the year which outlines the general makeup of the lake and other items. Due to spring rains, the water has been up and stained which will challenge fishermen who can’t adjust to the conditions.

Kyle Fields is a veteran kayak angler from NW Arkansas who is very familiar with Lake Fort Smith and has fished it in all conditions, and Brandon Ward is a River Valley based fisherman who has posted a good tournament history on the lake. Below they share their insights on the upcoming tournament.

Lake Fort Smith is once again muddy and a bit high. How do you approach a lake differently when there’s been a lot of rain?

Brandon: I will approach it no differently than I do any lake we have in the River Valley. One of the perks of growing up around our chocolate milk lakes is knowing how to fish Lake Fort Smith when it gets muddy and nasty.

Kyle:  Lake Fort Smith is almost always muddy so you have to get clear water tactics out of your head – it’s not Beaver Lake. Focus on loud, bright, vibration baits to get bites. I believe the key will be who can get them early.

FSFMmap
Whether going north or south, Lake Fort Smith is dark and full of terrors.

You both have caught good numbers of fish at Lake Fort Smith, any insight you want to share on how to break through on this lake?

Brandon: I think the main reason people struggle is the lake’s size. I know it has got me before. I’ll have my plan laid out then tourney day comes and I overthink where I need to go. There are many quality areas and when fishing from a kayak you need to choose where you are going wisely.

I have fished three different Kayak tournaments on this lake. Every time I’ve done really well, and each time has been with a different core choice of baits. Before the first tourney I’d never even been to the lake. I relied on Google earth to help me locate some potential hot spots. The lake is full of good wood to crank if that’s what you like, and also has some great rock piles and points for Carolina rigging. All three times I’ve even been able to find just enough clear water to throw a stick bait. The main thing I’ve found is don’t give up on it. The lake has produced some pretty good fish later in the day when half of the field is already headed back to the ramp (Shane Oakes).

Kyle: I like to think of this lake still as 2 lakes. One has brush and multiple feeder creeks and is relatively shallow; with the other end deep, steep banks, rocky and tree stick ups. I have forced myself to learn to fish it. Most of my time has been spent on the Fort Smith side.

In a shotgun start with potentially 60-70 or more boats, do you think that affects strategy on where people will go fish?

Brandon: I don’t think it’s going to affect it too much. You will always have your folks who want to get away from everyone as soon as possible no matter how far they need to go. Then there will be some that fish around the marina all day long. It may just be a little more crowded than usual.

Kyle: I think with the water being high and all of the debris in the lake it will limit anglers on where they plan to fish. I feel like if anyone had a strong pattern a week ago it has since changed. It has changed up my spot some but I feel good about how the high water may have positioned the fish.

What is your prediction on the winning length for this event?

Brandon: With the on and off rain that we’ve had in the area this week changing to sunny skies on Sunday, I’m going with 72.5 inches to win. I have a feeling it’s going to be a tough day for many anglers. A few will get on enough fish to put together a nice stringer though.

Kyle: As far as limits you have to choose an area and pick it apart to catch fish. I think 65 inches would be a conservative estimate on the winning sack.

To learn more about Sunday’s event, go to the RTT NWA – Lake Fort Smith Facebook page. Check-in is 5:00-5:30 a.m. followed by the captain’s meeting and then shotgun start.

Lake Fort Smith WAKA Preview

The first Western Arkansas Kayak Anglers tournament of 2016 will be held at a beautiful, but infamous body of water located south of the Bobby Hopper tunnel on I-49. Lake Fort Smith is a 1,400 acre fishery LakeFSMsurrounded by the scenic Boston Mountains and is one of the most beautiful lakes in Arkansas. This mountain lake can be quite clear, but like last spring, the lake is currently dirty and muddy – which some anglers will love and some will loathe.

Lake Fort Smith (which is not located in Fort Smith, Arkansas) is probably only infamous in my mind because of the two nightmarish tournaments I spent there last year. This lake is the site of my personal best both in fishing tackle broken off and rod and reel combos lost. Otherwise, it’s great.

The tournament is on Saturday, March 12, and will start from the boat ramp in the state park area.  Captain’s meeting is at 5:30 a.m. and will take off around 6:00 a.m., with scorecards due in the bucket by 2:00 p.m. Read more about it on the WAKA 2016 Opener at Lake Fort Smith Facebook page. Lake Fort Smith has the best ramp, parking and setup area of any of the tournaments I’ve been to – it’s really a nice place to hold an event.

The lake itself is fairly new creation, a combo of old Lake Fort Smith and Lake Shepherd Springs which re-opened in 2008. High winds out of the southwest or northeast can make it difficult, but the orientation of the lake can blunt some winds from the northwest or southeast. The most prominent attributes are the dam to the far southwest end and the main feeder creek far to the northeast. The ramp, park and the marina are situated in a large cove on the northern side of the lake. This lake has a lot of great scenes like waterfalls, small creeks, coves and bluffs. Do be wary crossing the lake in a kayak, there are boats that will motor through, so be sure to have your visibility flag deployed.

Last year’s two tournaments out there were held after the spawn period, so the lake should be totally different this time around. Dock talk says the water is already stained, with lots of rain on the way this week. The great thing about this lake is that if you want to fish bluffs, go ahead. Like a big flat or rip rap areas? Go ahead. And if you like standing and fallen timber, Lake Fort Smith has it. Basically, you can fish how you want to thanks to the variety of options.

Razoryak Tournament Trail events are a fun way to meet other kayak anglers, improve your fishing skills and to enjoy friendly competition. To participate in this WAKA event, no advance registration is required; you can show up with your entry fee, hawg trough and kayak on tournament day. Be sure to review all of the information on the 2016 WAKA Opener event page and check out the WAKA-RTT Schedule for info on future events.

SWEPCO Lake RTT Tournament Preview

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!

IMG_1312
Mike Iaconelli found some good bass on his recent trip to Swepco Lake.

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 Swepcomapsouthern 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 Trail events 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.