Tag Archives: Lake Charleston

WAKA Roadrunner Preview: The Lakes

This weekend is the Western Arkansas Kayak Anglers Lake or Reservoir Road Runner to any publicly accessible Arkansas Lake. The question is which lake will produce the winning limit of big bass? There are a few lakes that could be contenders, or at least some of the most obvious choices that anglers will get to choose from.

In kayak fishing a road runner event means anglers have the choice of fishing a variety of waters within a pre-determined radius and must account for drive time to turn in their scorecard on time. For this event, lakes must be publicly accessible (no private or membership lakes) and must be an officially named lake or reservoir. With rivers, creeks and Arkansas River backwaters off limits, here are some of the Arkansas lakes most likely to be fished:

Lake Greenwood – This little lake on the south side of Greenwood is nice lake not too far from Fort Smith. I fished this in a tournament last year and did fairly well. Mixture of grass with some cover and an old railroad bridge which divides the lake into two parts. This should be a popular spot.

Lake Dardanelle – Although this is a Lake or Reservoir only road runner, for this event there is an exception allowing Lake Dardanelle. This is a bit of a drive but could pay off for someone who knows how to find the fish on this lake.  This large body of water should give you plenty of options to find what you are looking for.

Lake Atkins – Lake Atkins is a wild-card for someone willing to make the longer drive. There is no doubt there are big bass in this lake and a lot of them. For someone trying to win total length and big bass, this is a good bet.

Jack Nolen – I’ve not fished Jack Nolen and have heard from some anglers that this little lake is a great fishery, while hearing from others that they don’t care for it. Based on who I’ve talked to, I tend to believe that it is a good lake for bass and provides a variety of cover options. Might be a sleeper location.

TJ House Reservoir – I know nothing about this lake and have never been there. Some online sources say there are bass here, but I don’t see it being a factor this weekend. There are just too many other options.

Charleston City Lake – WAKA already has held one tournament here this year and the fishing was reportedly very tough. The tournament I fished there previously was also a bit difficult, but I am told there are fish here. Will anglers stay away of this shallow lake because of the recent tournament history?

Lake Fort Smith – Most anglers competing will likely be familiar with Lake Fort Smith, a beautiful lake nestled in the mountains. There are bass in this lake and all types of cover, and could be an advantage to anglers who’ve fished it before. As a bonus, Lake Fort Smith is the site of an Arkansas Kayak Anglers tournament in June, so this would double as a pre-fishing opportunity.

Sugar Loaf – This lake is about 45 minutes south of Fort Smith and is a pretty little lake. I’ve fished here once and it has lots of grass as its primary feature. There are some fish here, just not sure how big they are.

Some other lake options for the weekend include Blue Mountain, Ozark City Lake, Waldron Lake and Lake Hinkle.

There are certainly many other lake options for kayak fishing in the Arkansas River Valley, but these are some of the most common destinations. Normally, some Washington County lakes might come into play on this event, but with the AKA road runner the very next day, those lakes are off limits, keeping this event south of the Bobby Hopper Tunnel.


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:

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.

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.

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.

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.