Tag Archives: Bella Vista

Tournament Recap – KBF Bella Vista 2

Kayak anglers from several states descended on the seven small lakes nestled in the Ozarks around Bella Vista, Arkansas. The second KBF tournament in Bella Vista this year yielded more than 200 bass, but few giants.

Bluebird skies and fish in transition toward fall patterns didn’t make it easy on the field. Of the 41 anglers who entered, 35 (85%) carded a keeper while 24 (59%) turned in a limit. These results were expected as Bella Vista lakes are known for an abundance of 11-12″ bass. Big bass were harder to come by with only seven of the 202 (3.5%) being at least 18″ in length.

I was lucky enough to win the event with 73.5″ including a 20.50″ kicker. Travis Ueke took second place with 72″, Dorman Hughey placed a close third with 71.75″ and James Harding finished fourth with 69.25″.  The largest bass of the day went to Travis Ueke with a 21″ largemouth.

Lake Avalon. Photo by Marc F. Henning

The top ten finishers:

  1. Jason Kincy (AR)
  2. Travis Ueke (MO)
  3.  Dorman Hughey (MO)
  4.  James Harding (MO)
  5.  Jason Adams (AR)
  6.  Hans Bentz (MO)
  7.  Joshua Martin (KS)
  8.  Jason Cossey (AR)
  9.  Chris Jones (AR)
  10.  Chris Connolley (AR)
Angler Recap Roundtable

Some of the top finishers shared their experience in Bella Vista including what lake they went to and what worked for them:

Where did you go, what lakes did you fish?

Jason – I was actually driving to Loch Lomond, but about halfway there I turned around and headed to Lake Windsor, just felt that was where I needed to go.

Travis – We went to Lake Avalon. We were going to launch at Lake Windsor but there were a few people there unloading so we wanted to get out on the water and looked at the other place we wanted to fish and decided to go there.

James – I went to Lake Windsor.

What worked for you to catch fish?

Jason – As the norm, I started the day with some topwater and picked up a few on a Heddon Zara Spook. Mid-morning I switched over to a Texas rig YUM worm on steeper banks and caught a few more. Slowly as the day went on I was able to cull by .25″ at a time it seemed. Finally around 12:30 I caught my kicker with a YUM Dinger up shallow and that made all the difference.

Travis – No real major keys to finding them…it was early so I decided to throw a jig, which I typically throw about 90% of the time.  I got a bite on my third cast up along a brush pile. A couple of casts later I got another 12″ fish, so I worked it a little as well as throwing a top water which didn’t prove to work. I then went back to the jig and caught the 21″ fish in about 5 ft of water…so needless to say I worked docks with a jig most of the day. I tried a handful of other things however, but the jig worked for me.

James – Started with some topwater early but had no takers. Then I saw a bass up shallow feeding, so with that observation and the clear water conditions I picked up the spinning rod with light line and started skipping a wacky rigged Zoom finesse worm under any overhanging tree branches which provided shade. I would then slowly drag the worm back to the kayak. Bites were light. The two larger bass were in the very back of coves in a few inches of water.

Any particular fishing story related to the day?

Jason – Early on I mixed in some drop shot fishing with my topwater and twice lost decent fish when my knot tying my leader to my braid broke loose. This has never happened before and was very frustrating, so much so that I put the dropshot away for the day. Back to the drawing board with my knot!

Travis – Really no particular story, but it was a wonderful place to fish, truly a gem in Arkansas.

James – After figuring out there were some quality bass in the backs of coves, I paddled to the back of one.I skipped my worm towards a hollow laydown , a very large bass picked up the worm and headed into the hollow log only to escape out the backside throwing the bait.

Any observations about Bella Vista or the lakes in general?

Travis – My observation of the area is that it seems to be a great place to fish not only for boats and of course kayaks, but it seems like a great place to banks fish for the kids of the community!

James – Thanks to Bella Vista for opening the lakes up for the tournament. Several homeowners came down to ask about the kayak anglers on the lake, giving me the opportunity to educate them on kayak fishing. I hope to return to the beautiful community of Bella Vista again sometime.

More Tournaments in Bella Vista?

By all accounts after two KBF events this year in the Village, anglers really enjoyed the variety of lakes to choose from, the ample availability of pavilions and ramps and the high numbers of keeper bass. As a local, I was proud to welcome so many out of town visitors to these beautiful local waters. Hopefully KBF will be back in Bella Vista in 2018.


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KBF Bella Vista Lakes 2 – Tournament Preview

The Kayak Bass Fishing (KBF) trail is back for another event on the Bella Vista lakes of Northwest Arkansas. This time around all seven lakes are in play – here’s an analysis of each Bella Vista lake and what we might expect out of the upcoming event.

Back in June, there was a rare KBF night Tournament in Bella Vista, with only five of the seven lakes open to anglers. Let’s look back at some of the tournament results.  As usual in Bella Vista kayak fishing, a lot of fish were caught but big ones were harder to come by.  Of the 39 entered anglers, 32 carded a fish, with 56% turning in a limit. The big story of the event was a 24.75″ monster caught at Lake Brittany. Read the complete recap of the last Bella Vista KBF event here.

Cody Milton's 24.75" largemouth from Lake Brittany in the June KBF Bella Vista tournament.
Cody Milton’s 24.75″ largemouth from Lake Brittany in the June KBF Bella Vista tournament.

This KBF Bella Vista kayak fishing tournament is different in a couple of ways from the one in June. First, it is a daytime event instead of a night tournament. Secondly, all seven Bella Vista lakes are in play for anglers.  Here’s a breakdown of each lake.

Bella Vista Lakes

Lake Rayburn – First lake on the list because in the June tournament, this is where the winning limit (76.25″) and many of the top 10 limits were produced. Great population of bass, and like all of Bella Vista, most are in the 12″-13″ range. But there is enough size here to win if you can catch the right ones.  As a no-wake lake you rarely deal with any boats and it is not a highly pressured body of water which should produce some limits. As a 45 acre lake it is very fishable by kayak.

Lake Ann – Other than Lake Brittany (see below), Lake Ann produced the most size in the June tournament. Lake Brittany does allow boats to speed around a bit of its 112 acres, but overall there are rarely more than two or three on the water at a time. This is one of the most beautiful lakes in Bella Vista due to the bluffs and surrounding hills and has a really nice ramp area. Fish are more plentiful here than some but does get some pressure. There’s fewer overall bass than Rayburn but you have a better chance at a good one.

Lake Brittany – This is the go big or go home lake in Bella Vista. As already mentioned, this 35 acre lake can produce giant bass. It’s only one of two lakes in the area which also stocks trout, helping feed up those largemouth. But these fish are smart and can be finicky at times. This is also a no-wake lake and is fed by two creeks coming in from the opposite end of the dam. A good limit caught from this lake will be in contention and odds are on this lake producing the big bass winner. Below is a video of me catching a 22″ largemouth this year on Lake Brittany:

Lake Windsor – The second largest lake in the village (220 acres) is a motor allowed fishery. Because the lake is not large and allows bass boats it gets a lot of pressure but has a decent fish population of all sizes. It can be hit or miss, particularly if there are a lot of boats in the water on a given day.  I’ll admit, I’ve had more than one kayak vs boat altercation on these waters. About half the shoreline of this lake consists of seawalls and man-made edges – so hope there aren’t any water skiers. Like most lakes, the average bass here is in the 12-13″ range with some larger ones mixed in.

Lake Avalon – This is one of the older lakes in the Bella Vista area and lives up to the trend of having a good fish population with some of a good size mixed in.  Most of this lake’s 67 acres is developed shoreline but is a great kayak lake because of it’s no-motor use policy. It’s also very convenient to the weigh in location which is the Lake Avalon pavilion. The main feature of this lake is the dam on the far end of the ramp and lots of small docks. Being a no-wake lake, it is lightly pressured.

Lake Norwood – I’m the most unfamiliar personally with this lake, although many swear it has the most dense fish population. It’s a scenic little lake with mostly natural shorelines and 33 acres of generally very clear water.  There are some underwater caves somewhere on this lake that supposedly hold some good bass, but I’m not sure where this is. It’s a no-wake lake which rarely has a boat in the water.

Loch Lomond – Saving the best for last, Loch Lomond is the biggest lake in the village at 477 acres and has a mixture of developed shorelines with docks and some natural shorelines. This also the only Bella Vista lake with a marina, found in a cove near the dam. Widely recognized as the best fishing lake, there is a good amount of pressure and boaters. However, due to the lake’s configuration, there are many arms of the lake which are no-wake areas which keep the skiers and pleasure boaters at bay. Every bite you get at Loch Lomond can be a 11″ bass or a six pound fish, but it can be fickle and like all the lakes is dominated by smaller bass. There are three good ramps on this lake for easy access.

Enjoy Bella Vista Kayak Fishing

Although these lakes are accessed by members, 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.

Sign up now for the KBF Bella Vista Lakes 2 Tournament on Tourney X or visit the event Facebook page for more information.


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KBF Bella Vista Tournament Recap

Bella Vista, Arkansas, hosted its first ever kayak bass fishing event with the Kayak Bass Fishing (KBF) night tournament on June 3. Bella Vista lakes are accessible by members, their guests or others who purchase a public use pass from the POA. Anglers could choose from five different lakes and fished from 4:00 p.m. until midnight. Six states were represented on the water for this unique KBF Trail stop.

The tournament started off with a rain shower and thunderstorms which cleared up as the evening wore on. Anglers were fairly spread out among the five lakes, with the most at Lake Ann, which totaled 15 by my count.  After all the fishing wrapped up, we were left with a LOT of small bass and one gigantic largemouth.

Of the 39 registered participants, 22 (56%) turned in a limit, while 32 (82%) carded a keeper.  Big fish were in short supply, and smaller ones dominated the limits – with only NINE of almost 200 fish submitted being 16″ or larger. In the weeks leading up to the event, I had predicted 77″ to win the tournament, and almost got it right on the nose.

Dwain Batey took first with 76.25″, Chris Jones second with 74.25″ and Cody Milton turned in 74″ for third. Cody also took big bass with a 24.75″ monster bass caught at Lake Brittany. Watch for an article later this week for more details about how he caught this 10+ lb behemoth. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The top ten finishers were as follows:

  1.  Dwain Batey
  2.  Chris Jones
  3.  Cody Milton
  4.  Jason Cossey
  5.  Roy Roberts
  6.  Justin Phillips
  7.  Nathan Henthorn
  8.  Jason Adams
  9.  Brendan Johnson
  10.  Chad Warford

I made a very last minute decision and started out with Lake Ann, overall having a poor performance. Finishing 13th, it didn’t help that I lost at least 5-6 fish off the hook, but none would have put me on top. Overall, a scattered and not very clean tourney on my end.

Here are some recaps by the top three anglers:

Dwain – Having only pre-fished one day on Lake Ann, which didn’t impress me, I chose to fish lake Rayburn, only because someone had said it had some color to it, and wasn’t as clear as the others. (Author’s note – this may have been me, Dwain probably owes me a %)  My original plan was to switch over to Lake Brittany after dark, but based on the live scoring at TourneyX I decided that Brittany wasn’t fishing any better other than Cody’s monster of course, so I stuck it out the whole time at Rayburn. I started off fishing a Skirmish Baits prototype glide bait that has been on fire last month for me. I had heard that these lakes had a lot of small fish, and I was trying to attract above average fish. I had several fish swipe at that bait and even stuck what would have easily been my biggest fish, but it pulled off under the boat. After sticking with that bait for about two hours I finally caught three on it, including one of my best fish for the night. I finally switched over to the Skirmish Baits M9-OK (one knocker) squarebill, and filled out my limit, and started culling fish. This bait too seemed to be catching fish above average for me, and I found a few places that seemed to be holding better fish than most of the lake. After dark, I switched over to a buzz bait and caught another 15 fish or so, but only one of them would cull up for me.

Cody – I chose Brittany because of how clear the water was. I thought it would be slow during the day but have a chance at better fish at night. During the daylight hours I fished in the middle of the lake over 60-70 feet. The fish would stay suspended in 7 feet if they weren’t schooling. You could mark 3-5 fish and throw back to them and catch them pretty easy.  I used a wacky rig senko to catch all of them.  After dark I threw a jig with a black D bomb trailer. I focused on any hard bottom that was close to 60ft of water. The most hard bottom was the dam, so I just went back and forth on it. I assumed the trout had to be in that deepest area and I wanted to stay close to them. Especially after hearing of the giants that live in Brittany. Thankfully I came across one throwing directly at the boat ramp next to the dock.

Chris – I chose Ann mainly due to word of mouth from the bait store up there and I liked that it was bigger in size. I threw a popper in the rain under the trees for some keepers then when the sun came out I threw a 5-6 foot crankbait bluegill colors for a lot of fish mostly small though. 2 of my best fish came after dark on the new 110 size whopper plopper, loon(black) was the color. I noticed a lot of bait in 2 coves and I mainly focused on them. I caught about 20 fish but most were 12″ fish.

Overall this was a cool event and gave several anglers their first taste of Bella Vista fishing. The Bella Vista POA seemed pleased with the outcome and it may lead to another tournament in the future. Although it likely dispelled the rumors of lakes stocked with schools of big bass, this event did show the lakes have a good keeper sized fish population – and at least one giant.

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

 

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.