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.
The top ten finishers:
- Jason Kincy (AR)
- Travis Ueke (MO)
- Dorman Hughey (MO)
- James Harding (MO)
- Jason Adams (AR)
- Hans Bentz (MO)
- Joshua Martin (KS)
- Jason Cossey (AR)
- Chris Jones (AR)
- 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.