Tag Archives: Beaver Lake

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.

Fishing with FLW Pro and Kayaking Superstar Eric Jackson

For the past couple of years I have been fortunate enough to fish with an FLW Pro in the Will Fish for Kids charity tournament on Beaver Lake and this year was pleased to draw Eric Jackson as my pro partner. Teaming up with Eric was no accident, I had requested to be paired with the world champion kayaker, pro fisherman, business man and marketer – knowing we’d have a great time talking as well as fishing.

Eric Jackson and I at the FLW Will Fish for Kids Tournament on Beaver Lake.
Eric Jackson and I at the FLW Will Fish for Kids Tournament on Beaver Lake.

Beaver Lake had just come off of a roller coaster couple of weeks of record rains and quickly rising water, creating issues for most of the pro anglers during the tournament. The night before our event threw another curve, with temps dropping to 38 degrees overnight (in May!) and 20-30 mph wind gusts during the day. Add to that a hazelnut stain in the normally crystal clear water and it was not the lake I had been used to.

Eric and I met up that morning and started out heading up an arm of Prairie Creek to check out some underwater wood structure he had

This color is not my Beaver Lake.

identified. Shortly thereafter, we were about to escape the very muddy water of Prairie Creek and head up to chase some smallmouth when his motor took a dive on us and we were stuck around the take-off point for the rest of the day.  In what was a recurring theme, Eric took this in stride and put a positive face on the situation. The rest of our day we worked around the launch area fishing some different techniques as best as we could, but just didn’t make magic happen. We boated only one keeper before we agreed to pack it in for the day and let Eric and family hit the road back to Tennessee. As expected however, fishing wasn’t the key highlight for me. I enjoyed my interaction with Eric as I picked his brain on what it is like to try and become a pro, the kayak industry, sponsorship theory and his marketing approach in general.

First and foremost that stands out to me is how positive Eric was all day long under diverse conditions. Every time we would creep our way to a new area with his trolling motor, he would be positive and declare, “This is a good spot, looks really good.” Or, if I suggested we hit a certain stretch, “That’s a good call, let’s do it.”  As we struggled to get enough bites we cycled through baits trying various things. “That’s a good idea, really might be the right thing to use,” he would say as I would move to a new bait.  No matter what was going on, he had a great attitude and made it better for his co-angler.  Last year I had met Eric at the morning take-off of the event and wrote this blog post about it: FLW Tour Pro Eric Jackson Good for Kayak Fishing – which also discussed the positive vibe this guy puts out all the time.

Eric and I moving down the creek arm before losing motor power.

This positive attitude has to have had a lot to do with the successes in his life.  Too many accolades to list here (but check them out here), he truly has had a world-class career.  He’s also been very successful in the business world, with Jackson Kayak, Orion Coolers and other brands being among the most well known and respected outdoor names. As a marketer, I was very interested to hear about his ideas about brand building, marketing and how to leverage the grassroots connections. We talked about the importance of ‘layering’ when working on content and brand messaging. Maybe the most telling aspect to me about his concepts of business is when he told me how at Jackson, he sees his warranty department as an extension of marketing. He recognizes how a company stands behind their product and cares for loyal customers means long-term prosperity.

We also discussed at length the soon to be released Jackson Flex Drive System, which is a pedal based system for Jackson Kayaks. I currently use a Hobie Pro Angler as my tournament boat but definitely plan to check out this offering from Jackson once available. It sounds like there will be a couple of really interesting features, including an easy beaching ability without drive issues. Jackson yaks are well known for quality, and I’d expect their pedal version to live up to the legacy there.

All in all it was an interesting day of ideas, marketing, and conversation – with a little fishing thrown in. Eric is clearly very passionate about his fishing career and has a clear plan on how he’s going to be a long-term successful competitor on the professional level. At the end of the day, because of his positive attitude, drive and mind for creative thinking…I tend to believe him.

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.

 

Beaver Lake KBF Tournament Preview

I had a recent opportunity to visit in person with B.A.S.S. Elite angler Ott DeFoe and he made it clear what a challenge Beaver Lake can be for anglers. As I introduced myself at the beginning of the conversation I said that I was from Arkansas and that Beaver Lake was my home lake. Ott’s face immediately dropped and he quipped, “I’m sorry to hear that.”

Van Hollow on Beaver Lake.
Van Hollow on Beaver Lake.

We spoke for a while about how to attack some of the key features of the lake like deep water floating docks and rocky points and bluffs, and it all really came back to the lake can be good…but it can be fickle from day to day which frustrates the Pros and the Joes. It’s a beautiful reservoir, but I often refer to it as the “Dead Sea” because you can also have some really tough days on the water.

Beaver Lake is well known around the country due to it being an annual stop on the FLW tournament circuit. This weekend, the Kayak Bass Fishing (KBF) Trail makes a stop on Beaver, a full two weeks before the FLW fishing pros come to town.  What’s in store for this event? I polled some top Northwest Arkansas kayak anglers to get their thoughts – Jason Underdown, Jeff Malott and Dwain Batey.

Beaver Lake KBF Roundtable

Beaver Lake level is down for the year, but up fairly dramatically from recent rains. How do you think this will affect the fishing?

Underdown – I don’t feel it will affected it too much, the water was recently down 13ft. below normal pool and recently has risen to only 7 feet below normal pool. This allows more cover to be under water and more flats to be accessible for spawning.  If anything it may help individuals that were lucky enough to get out on the lake when it was low and mark some spots on their charts that may now be underwater.

Mallot – As the water rises and warms the bass will move toward the banks and back of pockets. The spawn is upon us so they want to move anyway, the rising water only helps. 

Because of the rising water, anglers can find very clear water and stained water, where do you think most will gravitate to?

Batey – I think most people will fish clear water, but that may not prove to be the best strategy.

Mallot – I like a slight stain in the water so mid lake would be my go to area. This is one of my favorite things about Beaver Lake, you can find your water color and fish your strength most times of the year.

Being a KBF event, there will be several newbies to Beaver Lake, what advice or words of wisdom would you share with them?

Batey – I have fished Beaver one time last year for the AKA event (which I won) and my last trip here fore that was in 2008 before I ever fished from a kayak, when my partner Alan Heavener and I won a fund raiser tournament for the University of Arkansas fishing team. I also haven’t been on the lake since my win last year…so I guess my best advice is not to pre-fish! (laughing)

Underdown – This lake changes from day to day, so don’t think the spot you pre-fished will be the same two days later. Stick with what you are confident and comfortable with and don’t listen too much to any fishing reports. Secondary points in coves and creek arms will more than likely be the best producers for pre-spawn bass.

Prediction on winning overall length and big bass?

Mallot – I think something in the mid 80s will win, so let’s say 85″ and for big bass I will say 20.5″.

Batey – 84.5″ for total and 21.75″ big bass.

Underdown – Bass have been pretty decent size this last six months or so on Beaver Lake thanks to flooding last year so I’m going with 85-90″ to win and a big bass of 21″.

Beaver Lake Kayak Tourney Trends

Historically, Beaver Lake has been very stingy for kayak tournaments, living up to the “Dead Sea” title.

In 2015, the Arkansas Kayak Anglers held their Beaver Lake roadrunner event in early May. Most of the 50 anglers (76%) carded a keeper in this tournament, while only one in five anglers turned in a limit. 72″ won the event, with 17.75″ taking big bass. I finished 9th with a modest 66″ on the day.

Later that year, the Arkansas vs Oklahoma border battle was held in September on Beaver Lake. On this day, only five of the 48 anglers (10.4%) turned in a limit, with 37.5% of the field not carding a keeper. A small 66.5″ limit won first place on this tough Dead Sea day at Beaver, with a sub-par 15.75″ taking big bass. I took 3rd place with a paltry 61″ on my card, but was happy with a limit on that tough outing.

In early spring of 2016, the Arkansas Kayak Anglers road runner on Beaver Lake posted better results. Only 21% of anglers turned in a limit, while almost one-third of the field did not card a fish. Sizes were bigger this time around, with first place scoring 82.5″ and big bass being a legitimate 19.5″ – a really nice fish on Beaver Lake. I managed 15th on this frustrating day with 57″ total.

What will happen this year? Swepco Lake results far exceeded previous data, so maybe we’ll see the same on Beaver. We’ll find out Saturday.

This tournament also really matters to local anglers, points not only count for KBF, but this is also a Natural State Kayak Anglers (NSKA) points event. Someone can really bolster their AOY chances with a big win on Saturday. Good luck, wear your PFDs and deploy visibility flags!

 

2017 NWA Natural State Kayak Anglers Season Preview

One of the largest kayak bass fishing tournament tNatural State Kayak Anglers (NSKA)rails in the country, Natural State Kayak Anglers, is about to start for 2017 and we contacted some veteran NSKA anglers for their take on the upcoming season schedule. The Natural State Kayak Anglers (NSKA) tournament series is a great way to improve your fishing skills, meet other anglers and most importantly to have a lot of fun on the water.

The 2017 NSKA Tournament Schedule

Jeff Malott is the tournament director for NSKA events this year, we asked him some general questions about the upcoming season:

What’s the best change you made this year to the NSKA tournament trail?

Jeff – Changing tourney management over to 100% use of tourneyX.com will be a real game changer. No more long waits at weigh in and the ability to follow a live leaderboard should take our events to another level.

Knowing you are not fishing the tournaments this year, what’s the one event you will miss fishing in the most?  

Jeff – To ensure the NSKA events go smoothly I won’t participate locally this season. The one event I’ll miss most will probably be the NWA Road Runner, only because I historically do really well, lol.

Which event will have the most impact on the AOY race?

Jeff – With there being only 1 drop this season (best 5 of 6 count towards AOY), all events are going to have a huge impact, but a good start is essential so probably Swepco in NWA and Spadra in the River Valley.

Roundtable – NSKA Angler Season Preview

Natural State Kayak Anglers Taylor Frizzell, Justin Phillips, Rob Barnica and myself shared predictions and thoughts on the upcoming schedule for 2017:

Which NSKA event will produce the longest length? 

Jeff – The longest string should come from the road runner event, folks can really tune in on the handful of big bass lakes around NWA and the River Valley.

Taylor – I think the NWA road runner will produce the the longest length. Only because there will be so many bodies of water in play that you won’t have 60+ anglers on the same lake. I feel like someone will end up with a area pretty much to themselves and be able to really work the body of water.

Jason – To me it is clearly the online event, anglers will have multiple days to put a limit together.

What’s the key in getting off to a fast start for the season?

Rob –  For myself it simply placing top 10 in a tournament. This is my first year fishing kayak tournaments.

Justin – For me it comes down to preparation, practice and homework. All of these have one thing in common. Trying to maximize control over known variables. In short, take care of what you can and when hiccups come you’ll be less inclined to get rattled and more inclined to formulate a solid Plan B.

Jason – I’ll be happy if I can get any sleep the night before tournaments. It’s hard for me to do because I’m excited and ready to go.

Which event do you have circled where you want to do the best?

Rob – The first one at Swepco Lake. It’s a huge confidence booster to know you can compete in your first year with so many great anglers.

Taylor – I’m looking forward to the KBF/NSKA event the most only because I feel like turn out will be amazing and it will give a lot of competitive NWA guys a chance to prove themselves on a larger scale. It’s going to be a lot of fun to have that opportunity to fish a big event and not have to travel hours to do so.

Jason – Probably the NWA Road Runner…there is so much strategy involved on where to go it is interesting to see where anglers wind up fishing.

Swepco Lake is notorious for being a wind tunnel in March. How might this impact how anglers attack the lake? What’s the winning length going to be?

Justin – It really depends on how much wind and what anglers are willing to put up with. Wind can be great in some circumstances but if it’s white capping not many will want to deal with that. The protected pockets may become so packed a guy will be able to walk across the water and not get his feet wet.  If it’s not too bad it may keep everyone more dispersed. I predict 84 inches will win.

Rob – The wind is simply a mindset. Between anchors and pedals I don’t feel it’s a huge obstacle. Winning length on Swepco will be 90+ inches.

Taylor – The wind tunnel in March is always interesting. It makes you really be on your toes and you have to be able to adapt to this on a whim. I think the paddlers will hug the banks and try to attack the coves and the peddlers will have more of an opportunity to fish where they want. It will also make the finesse guys figure out a strategy to put fish in the boat. I know last year I had to change tactics several times based on the wind. It tends to make it really hard to keep your position when Texas rigging or Jig fishing. I used a Ned rig a lot last year but when the wind picked up I had to change my plan of attack. I think for the winning length at Swepco will be over 90 inches because of the size of fish that are in that lake.

The NSKA/KBF event is on Beaver Lake in April. Last year the lake was high and muddy, so far this year it is low and very clear. How do you expect this change to affect this event?

Justin – If it stays as it is the low water will keep the fish pooled in tighter areas. With the decent year on Beaver Lake last season that may prove to provide great regardless of your style. However, I wouldn’t get overly excited just yet. The spring rains may flood and upset the apple cart. If that happens the water would probably become muddy and power fishing techniques will come more into play. 

Rob – Hopefully it keeps the big boats away from several spots. Obviously the lake and all structure has changed. Let’s pray we don’t have a torrential downpour the week before our tournament.

Jason – Should benefit the finesse anglers mid-lake to the dam. A lot of others may run up closer to the river looking for some stained water. I’m happy we’ll get a shot at Beaver Lake before the FLW pros do. Last couple of years they hammered the lake right before our event.

With the NWA River Road Runner focused on river fishing, where do you think the hotspots for anglers will be for this event?

Rob – Illinois, Kings and White would be my best guess.

Justin – I’d like to look at War Eagle, could be a solid choice.

Jason – There are some great river fishermen in NSKA and I’m not one of them. Have heard great things in the past about the Illinois and Kings. Might be that there’s a honey hole on a little known creek or river that may be the secret to victory.

For the NWA Road Runner, strategy comes into play big time for this event – big bass lakes can pay off or burn you. What’s the best high risk high reward destination for this event?

Taylor – The NWA roadrunner high risk high reward destination is Swepco Lake. The fact that there are so many large fish in that lake makes it a go to option but the time of year makes that lake a coin flip. If that water is hot the angler who knows how to fish deep and entice the fish to bite could have a winning outcome, but at the same time it could set them up for failure.

Jason – When I think about the biggest bass in NWA I tend to think Lincoln Lake. That place has the ability to provide a good limit with two to three 20s in it, but it can be fickle sometimes. I’d say Lincoln is the best home run chance.

There is a weekend online tournament in July, that is obviously a different type of deal than a one day event. How should anglers approach this differently than a normal tournament?

Rob – Due to being my first year, I really don’t know the answer. I’m still learning myself.

Taylor – The summer slam online is going to be an interesting event. I feel like Anglers should stick with what they’re comfortable with but at the same time it might take stepping out of that comfort zone to win. I personally won’t run to the “go to” lakes that we normally would in the spring. It’s going to be a hot summer I think and I feel like the rivers are going to have an advantage over the lakes for this particular event but with fishing you honestly never know where the money stringer is going to be.

Jason – Those who fish the most over the weekend won’t necessarily win, I think it will be the angler that picks the right spots at the right time.

Get Ready – It’s Go Time!

Check out the Razoryak Tournament Trail website for info about NSKA as well as the River Valley, Central Arkansas, and NE/North Central trails. If this is your first tournament season, read this article on Five Catch Photo Release (CPR) Protips and the one on a Kayak Fishing Tournament Packing List for helpful information.

Like this article? Check out other recent kayak fishing posts:

Spotlight: Expert Crankbait Tips, Choosing a Stand-Up Paddle, Jeff Malott Wins KBS on Table Rock, Installing LED Lights, AKA and WAKA Results

IMG_2927
Taking off on Beaver Lake the morning of the AKA NW Arkansas road-runner event.

This week’s spotlight features some great content and some exciting results involving some of my fellow Arkansas Kayak Anglers.

Dwain Batey is maybe the best crankbait kayak angler I know of and he’s put together a great article called Why You Can’t Catch Fish on a Squarebill Crankbait. Despite the title, Dwain does everything he can in this article to help you catch fish on a crankbait. He should know, he’s the owner of Bait Werks Custom Lure Painting and paints all of the lures for Skirmish Baits. If you like to fish crankbaits or want to improve, this is a good place to start.

Fellow Arkansas Kayak Angler Jeff Malott won a cool $3,000 this past weekend at the KBS Open on Table Rock Lake. Jeff is a great angler who works hard at his craft and deserved the win. Jeff caught eight bass and turned in a limit of 82″ inches on a post-front day. He is the tournament director for Arkansas Kayak Angler events, one of the founders of the Razoryak Tournament Trail and serves on many other kayak fishing related boards. It’s no surprise an AKA member won on Table Rock; clear and rocky water like that is home turf. Jeff is currently at the top spot in the AOY points for AKA and has a great season. Check out Jeff’s blog, Yakfish Arkansas.

If you are fortunate enough to have a Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP), they are a lot of fun. Choosing the right paddle can make all the difference. Bending Branches has this great article about Choosing a Stand-Up Paddle that’s helpful and includes some graphics representing the height of the paddler to the paddle and the right angle at which to make a paddle stroke.

Kayakfishingblog.com has an updated layout and look if you haven’t seen it in a while. They posted a good article on Installing LED Fishing Lights that you might want to check out. My own article on Installing LED Lights On Your Kayak has been a popular one on this blog. Between these two articles you should be well on your way towards an install.

Western Arkansas Kayak Anglers and Arkansas Kayak Anglers have updated their respective Angler of the Year points rankings after their most recent events. In northwest Arkansas, the AOY standings are taking shape with only two events left. Jeff Malott, Dwain Batey, Jason Kincy (me), Decland McDonald and Tim Hotchkin are sitting in the top five spots, with the top three places separated by eight points. Overall, there are 108 anglers in the points race. For WAKA, Brandon Ward and Cody Skelton are in a tight race for first, with Tommy Mcguire, Christa Hibbs and Joe Feyen rounding out the top five. Having only fished two events this year for WAKA, I’m currently sitting at 21 out of 47 anglers.

Spotlight: YUM Pulse, KBF National Championship, PFDs, RTT Recaps

This week read about a hot new swimbait, PFD selection, Razoryak Tournament Trail and KBF recaps:

PulseChristie
Christie’s spinnerbait setup with Pulse trailers.

Many Bassmaster Classic fans watched YUM sponsored angler Jason Christie take an early commanding lead on Grand Lake, only to lose out on the final day to a monster bag from Edwin Evers. For the first three days Christie was lighting it up, leading field with an ability to put fish in the boat. One of the secrets of the week was that Christie was using a brand-new prototype YUM Pulse swimbait as a trailer on his spinnerbaits. This new swimbait was a key in helping create the right disturbance in the murky water because of it’s ribbed design. Although Christie used it as a trailer, it is primarily designed for use rigged as a swimbait on a jig-head or hook. These swimbaits were not available prior to the Classic and are now hitting stores.

Chris Payne at Kayak Fishing Blog has a really good article about choosing a PFD (personal flotation device) for kayak fishing. He discusses the different types and uses and makes some recommendations. I use a MTI Solaris when fishing and like it because of the high placement of the padding on the back so it doesn’t interfere with my kayak seat. Wearing your PFD is very important and most tournament trails require it in the rules. Invest in a comfortable one, the better it feels, the more likely you are to keep it on!

The best Kayak Anglers in the country met at Kentucky Lake in March for the Kayak Bass Fishing National Championship. I had qualified but had to miss the event and it sounds like I missed out on an awesome time. For those interested, here’s a recap of the winners. Congratulations to all who qualified and competed.

The Arkansas based Razoryak Tournament Trail continues for 2016 with more great events. Arkansas Kayak Anglers held their Beaver Lake Road Runner and had 70 kayak fishermen hit the water on a blustery day. Dwain Batey took first place with 82.5″ followed by Benny Williams and Craig Wood. My small limit placed me at 15 for the event. Read the tournament recap here.  Western Arkansas Kayak Anglers held their second event of the season at Charleston Lake and the cold really turned the fish off. Cody Skelton took the top spot with 53.5″ and big bass with 19″.  Visit the RTT Angler of the Year standings to keep up with the points race for 2016.

 

AKA Beaver Lake and WAKA Charleston Lake Tournament Previews

Next up on the AKA and WAKA tournament series are Beaver Lake and Lake Charleston on Saturday, April 2nd. Both are the second event of the season for each circuit and will be important to anglers trying to move u in the AOY standings.

BeaverLake
Beaver Lake is the largest body of water in NW Arkansas, but not known as a “Big Bass” lake.

Last year’s spring tournament on Beaver Lake was later in the season and the lake was warmed up and fairly clear. This time around anglers will need to manage the conditions brought on by rotating warming and cooling trends and a body of water that is back down to normal levels but much of the lake is still dirty from the recent draw-down. Beaver Lake is a 28,000+ reservoir lake which can provide a good bite one day and no bites the next.

Fish are being caught on Beaver despite the spring roller coaster. Dock talk has been saying smallmouth have moved up from Rocky Branch down to Indian Creek and are being caught in good numbers. Mid-lake bass are being caught in the stained water in familiar areas of Prairie Creek, Esculapia and Monte Ne. On the river end where the water is darker, some anglers are having success. A good limit will be needed to win this event!

Registration for the RTT-NWA Beaver Lake event is Saturday, April 2, with registration beginning at 5:00 a.m. and captains meeting at 5:50 a.m. at Academy Sports in Fayetteville. From there anglers can drive and put in anywhere on Beaver Lake. It’s going to be a cold morning, so bundle up.

CharlestonLake
Charleston Lake should be primed for a big day.

Charleston Lake is the site of the second WAKA event of the season and there will be a giant bass caught at this small municipal lake. I’ve fished this body of water only once and can’t wait to get out there in the future. Just this year I’ve been hearing dock talk of multiple 9+ pound bass being pulled from the water.

It’s a very shallow lake with a few key contour features and a lot of vegetation in the form of buckbrush lining the banks. The ramp is near the only real hard structure on the lake, a short rip rap dam on the north side, with the rest of the lake spreading into four creek fed flat areas. During a break in the action you can catch a good view of Potato Hill. Wind can be a major factor on this lake, there just isn’t anything to provide relief. Registration for the WAKA – Charleston Lake event will begin at 5:15 with the captains meeting at 6:10.  If you catch a giant bass with a Bone Spook in its mouth, please retrieve that lure for me.

Spotlight: Primary Tackle, Drop Shot Fishing, Canoe and Kayak Storage & Water Wolf

Focus this week highlights a great source for some key tackle items, a drop shot fishing breakdown and a couple of other items of interest for kayak anglers:

Last spring while attending the FLW event at Beaver Lake I was exposed to Primary Tackle Co out of Bartlett, TN. This Memphis area tackle company has a variety of products available but seems to specialize in terminal tackle items and plastics. For me, it’s been a PrimaryTacklegreat money saver in tungsten weights, getting quality tungsten for a cheaper price than the big stores.

To give you an idea on price savings on these Vike tungsten weights, a pair of 3/4 oz is $7.99 on Tackle Warehouse and only $6.49 at Primary Tackle. A three pack of  1/4 oz worm weights are $5.19 on Tackle Warehouse and $3.99 at Primary Tackle. Tungsten 1/8 drop shot weights are $.50 less per three pack at Primary Tackle than at Tackle Warehouse. These prices illustrate pretty consistently the price savings you might see. Shipping is free with orders over $25!

We’re in February now and it’s always a good time to review some tips on canoe and kayak storage. Bending Branches put out this good article about preparing and storing your boats. Always appreciate the good content Bending Branches puts out to help paddlers get the most they can out of the sport!

Has anyone used a Water Wolf camera for underwater shooting? I’ve been reading about this product and am very intrigued by the idea of an underwater camera paired with kayak fishing. Hope to do more on Water Wolf in the future as I learn more about it.

This is a really good video put up by Jeff from Yakfisharkansas.com about drop shot fishing using Goldens Baits. I know Jeff and Tim and they are both great kayak anglers. Take some time to watch this video for some solid drop shot action:

 

Top Six Kayak Fishing Tournament Lessons from 2015

My first year competing in kayak bass fishing tournament trails was a real learning experience. Each and every event taught me something new – and sometimes the lessons were painful, but made me a better competitor and helped me accomplish a successful Razoryak Tournament Trail season. Here are some of my top kayak bass fishing tournament lessons learned from 2015:

  1. Fish security is very important. This seems obvious, but if you don’t get a quality photo on the hawg trough, you can’t count the fish. In my very first kayak bass fishing tournament on a tough day of fishing at Swepco Lake, I lost three bass off the board while taking the picture – leaving me only one to turn in on the card. It was a bad start for the AOY points race and I finished far down the rankings for this event! Some people use a clip or fish grips (as their circuit may allow) and others just have a certain technique that helps control the fish. What I learned here is I hadn’t practiced this enough going into the tourney. When getting started, this is something you should practice over and over with your hawg trough and camera when pre-fishing or fun fishing so that it is second nature on tournament day!
  2. Take care and time when taking photos. In my second kayak bass fishing tournament of the year my luck improved and I caught a very competitive limit (and kept them on the hawg trough for the pic) but in my excitement I didn’t focus enough on making sure each
    kayak bass fishing tournament fish
    This bass was caught using a Heddon Super Spook around submerged rock along the bank.

    bass had its mouth fully closed for the photo. I was in too much of a hurry and not taking the time to work a bit with the fish to get the mouth closed. I finished third in this event, but lost out on Big Bass and second place due to deductions on three of my five fish. Learning from this, I didn’t have a deduction the rest of the year.

  3. Don’t give up! You hear this all the time and read it in almost every article, but staying focused and not giving up on a bad day is difficult. During the WAKA River Run event I had scouted a location where I’d never fished and got off to an OK start, picking up a couple of largemouth bass early. Over the next several hours I didn’t get any bites and didn’t have a clue. I wanted to quit, give up, and was thinking about an early start on the long drive home. But I kept going and kept trying. With less than an hour left before tournament turn-in I caught a 16″ and 17.5″ on back to back casts and then one more a few minutes later. Caught on a wacky rig, check out Yum Dingers for some great color options) This resulted in my first win of the year and Big Bass for the tournament. If I had listened to my self-doubt and frustration then I would have missed out on a great finish. Two other times in 2015 I had similar experiences with catching an important fish in the last 30-45 minutes – don’t give up!
  4. Pay attention to the details. Another difficult lesson learned this year is not to take small details for granted. It’s not enough to pick the right bait, make the best cast and work the lure perfectly. I paid the price a few times this year for not doing some little things to help make sure I landed the bigger fish you need to win. Some things to focus on include ensuring your hooks are sharp (change them out if necessary!), check the drag settings on every reel, and take time to tie the right knot for your technique and re-tie as often as needed. On one tournament day at Lake Charleston I lost one of the biggest largemouth bass that I hooked all year when the knot broke from worn line and my drag was too tight. This could have changed a fourth place finish into a first place finish!
  5. Take an inventory before you launch.  Finding the pattern on tournament day to get bass in the kayak is a terrific feeling. Losing the lure that’s catching them, or running out of the plastic bait that’s pulling them in is an awful one. If you have a go-to confidence bait or some key lures for a particular event, be sure you have more than one in the boat. One of the things I enjoy about kayak fishing is the challenge in managing a limited amount of space and gear I can take on the water. One event this year I did a very poor job of this and it cost me when the key pattern emerged and I wasn’t prepared to take advantage.
  6. Map out your time. This is one item I figured out fairly early and it works well for me. Before a tournament starts I know exactly how long it takes me to get on my fishing location and how long it takes me to get back to turn in my card.  This allows me to maximize my time on the water casting for bass without risking missing the cutoff.  Things can happen such as a vehicle or equipment breakdown, but other times people just misjudge paddling or driving time.  This is particularly helpful in Beaver Lake style road runner events, or if you keep paddling further, clock your time. To help with this I keep a visible watch face in my kayak so I know what time it is at all times and can keep tabs on when I need to get moving.

Many of these tips are fairly basic but are all related to some personal lessons learned and I hope are helpful to kayak bass fishing tournament anglers regardless of experience level.