The NSKA NWA Road Runner took place on a post-front day with bluebird skies but that didn’t keep these kayak anglers from catching a lot of fish. The trend for 2017 continued with higher catch totals than in previous years. For those of you who don’t do the weekly Yakpot, it seemed to have been key for the top performers this time around.
Dwain Batey took 1st again with 93.75″ on Lake Elmdale, while Cole Sikes finished 2nd on Elmdale as well with 85.50″ and Big Bass with a 23.50″ monster. Craig Richardson and Brayden Richardson finished 3rd and 4th with 85.25″ each at SWEPCO Lake.
A whopping 66% of the field turned in a limit, showing that when these kayak anglers can choose their spot, fish will be caught.
The top 10 was as follows:
- Dwain Batey
- Cole Sikes
- Craig Richardson
- Brayden Richardson
- Justin Wright
- Roy Roberts
- William Jones
- Baron Meek
- Robert Murphy
- David Preston
The top anglers shared their recaps on the day. Great summaries by Dwain Batey, Cole Sikes and Craig Richardson.
Dwain – There was a cold front, quickly clearing water, and ridiculous fishing pressure to deal with at Lake Elmdale, but knowing all of that I still decided I was “on them” enough to catch fish with the changing conditions and behind other boats and kayaks. My plan to fish Elmdale began with the awesome day that many of us had at the weekly Yakpot the week before, the water was high and muddy, and the fish were shallow and eating. I checked it again on Friday, and Sunday, and continued to refine my presentation each trip. I was very worried that the water would be too clear for those very shallow fish to remain that shallow by the event day, but I resisted the urge to check them again before the off limits period started. I pedaled out to my best area before start time, and was waiting there when it was time for the first cast.
I only got a couple of bites fishing through my best stuff, and didn’t put any of them in the boat. Just beyond my best area I caught a couple of 10+” to break this ice, but then I had to skip the next 150 yards of that bank because there were a series of boats and kayaks fishing that stretch. Moving on down to the next free area I finally connected with a few decent fish on the jig. Even down there I was fishing behind two bass boats that were both fishing similarly, pitching something into the same cover. Catching fish behind them really gave me confidence that I was doing something right, and different enough to catch fish with the heavy fishing pressure of the day. I made another pass down the entire stretch, and picked up a couple more fish then near the very end of it put my best fish in the boat, a 20.25″ that really anchored my bag for the day (this was at 10 a.m.).
After that I didn’t boat another fish that would cull until I found one fish away from my area on a deeper bank at 1 pm. While I had a serious game plan with several different lures, it turned out that all I needed was my jig. It was a black and blue Missile Jig, which is compact in size and profile but matched the fall rate of the larger jig I was using the week before. My trailer was a Reaction Innovations Smallie Beaver in a matching color. I wanted the smaller jig, and no kicking legs on the trailer because the fishing pressure and the clearing water put the brakes on the activity level of the bass. The cover that the fish were holding on also continued to change as the water cleared and fell. The first trip last week the fish were holding on vertical wood cover that was approx. 2 to 4 inches diameter, the next day they were on the base of the really big stumps/trees that were 2 to 4 feet diameter, but on the day of the tournament they had moved to the bushy stuff that was very sparse and was under ½ inch diameter. Another big change was, last week in the dirty water fish were biting the bait on the drop, and during the tournament you’d have to let it go to the bottom and hop/drag it some to get a bite.
After the sun got up and really showed how clear the water was, I really couldn’t believe that those fish were still up in a foot of water and biting the morning of the tournament, but I’m glad that I didn’t know until after I’d caught them, it could have ruined my confidence in the area to see that early in the day, but luckily it still looked dirty in the low light of the early morning when I was doing my damage. While everyone expects me to catch my fish on a Skirmish Baits M9 squarebill crankbait (and that’s usually the case) it’s nice to show some diversity and catch some fish on a slower bait once in a while.
Cole – I ended up choosing Lake Elmdale because it’s the lake I know the best outside of Beaver Lake and I had one of my best fishing trips while fishing the Weekly YakPot tournament the week before. From my experience in the past, Lake Elmdale doesn’t usually have an abundance of quality fish (18+”) but this year the lake has been on fire.
Conditions played a big role in my overall strategy. The sun and no wind always makes it a grind so I knew the early morning bite would be key. In the morning I tried to flip my jig by every piece of cover up shallow while I knew the bank was going to get hit hard by other weekend anglers. This worked for me but only was able to manage to catch some average 15” keepers. Once the shallow bite got tough, I started fishing out deeper on points and pockets hoping to catch a key kicker.
This move worked out well for me while I caught my kicker fish in a mouth of a pocket using a jig around laydowns that were not visible to the human eye. The fish was an 8.5″ cull and moved me from 13th to a 2nd place finish. My key baits for the day were BassX Jigs with Zoom Ultra Vibe Speed Craw trailers.
Craig – Decided to hit Swepco because for some reason it doesn’t seem to get all muddied up after rains like some of the other lakes. Brayden and I found the fish pretty quickly in the coves, mostly in a little deeper water on secondary points and structure. As the day heated up and the sun came out, the fish moved up into the flooded vegetation in the same areas. We were able to catch them all day throwing a wacky rig.
River Valley Road Runner
On the same day as NWA events, there is another tourney for those south of the Bobby Hopper Tunnel. Congratulations as well to the NSKA River Valley Road Runner Winners:
- 1st – Chris Nemeth with 89″
- 2nd – Christa Hibbs with 83.5″
- 3rd – Chris Jones with 72″
- Big Bass – Josh Baker with 22.25″
As for me, this is easily one of my worst decision making tournaments ever. Although I caught several fish, I made a last minute decision on the lake I chose and the area of the lake where I wanted to start. On that day I used a lot of go-to techniques and caught small fish but it just didn’t work for the bigger ones. By the time I adjusted the sun was out and it was just too late. Hopefully we all learned something in this event that will help us down the road.
Thank you to Jeff Malott for putting on a well organized and fun event so that we can all have some fun.