Tag Archives: Lake Fort Smith

Lake Fort Smith Tournament Preview with Brandon and Kyle

Next up on the Razoryak Tournament Trail for AKA and WAKA is a big-time event on the infamous Lake Fort Smith. I’ve asked kayak tournament anglers Kyle Fields (AKA) and Brandon Ward (WAKA) to give their thoughts on the lake, their strategies and what it will take to win. This event is big because points count toward AOY points in each trail. Another record turnout is possible, depending on weather conditions.

LakeFSM
Competitors should get used to this water color.

For more general info on my nemesis, Lake Fort Smith, check out a preview posted earlier in the year which outlines the general makeup of the lake and other items. Due to spring rains, the water has been up and stained which will challenge fishermen who can’t adjust to the conditions.

Kyle Fields is a veteran kayak angler from NW Arkansas who is very familiar with Lake Fort Smith and has fished it in all conditions, and Brandon Ward is a River Valley based fisherman who has posted a good tournament history on the lake. Below they share their insights on the upcoming tournament.

Lake Fort Smith is once again muddy and a bit high. How do you approach a lake differently when there’s been a lot of rain?

Brandon: I will approach it no differently than I do any lake we have in the River Valley. One of the perks of growing up around our chocolate milk lakes is knowing how to fish Lake Fort Smith when it gets muddy and nasty.

Kyle:  Lake Fort Smith is almost always muddy so you have to get clear water tactics out of your head – it’s not Beaver Lake. Focus on loud, bright, vibration baits to get bites. I believe the key will be who can get them early.

FSFMmap
Whether going north or south, Lake Fort Smith is dark and full of terrors.

You both have caught good numbers of fish at Lake Fort Smith, any insight you want to share on how to break through on this lake?

Brandon: I think the main reason people struggle is the lake’s size. I know it has got me before. I’ll have my plan laid out then tourney day comes and I overthink where I need to go. There are many quality areas and when fishing from a kayak you need to choose where you are going wisely.

I have fished three different Kayak tournaments on this lake. Every time I’ve done really well, and each time has been with a different core choice of baits. Before the first tourney I’d never even been to the lake. I relied on Google earth to help me locate some potential hot spots. The lake is full of good wood to crank if that’s what you like, and also has some great rock piles and points for Carolina rigging. All three times I’ve even been able to find just enough clear water to throw a stick bait. The main thing I’ve found is don’t give up on it. The lake has produced some pretty good fish later in the day when half of the field is already headed back to the ramp (Shane Oakes).

Kyle: I like to think of this lake still as 2 lakes. One has brush and multiple feeder creeks and is relatively shallow; with the other end deep, steep banks, rocky and tree stick ups. I have forced myself to learn to fish it. Most of my time has been spent on the Fort Smith side.

In a shotgun start with potentially 60-70 or more boats, do you think that affects strategy on where people will go fish?

Brandon: I don’t think it’s going to affect it too much. You will always have your folks who want to get away from everyone as soon as possible no matter how far they need to go. Then there will be some that fish around the marina all day long. It may just be a little more crowded than usual.

Kyle: I think with the water being high and all of the debris in the lake it will limit anglers on where they plan to fish. I feel like if anyone had a strong pattern a week ago it has since changed. It has changed up my spot some but I feel good about how the high water may have positioned the fish.

What is your prediction on the winning length for this event?

Brandon: With the on and off rain that we’ve had in the area this week changing to sunny skies on Sunday, I’m going with 72.5 inches to win. I have a feeling it’s going to be a tough day for many anglers. A few will get on enough fish to put together a nice stringer though.

Kyle: As far as limits you have to choose an area and pick it apart to catch fish. I think 65 inches would be a conservative estimate on the winning sack.

To learn more about Sunday’s event, go to the RTT NWA – Lake Fort Smith Facebook page. Check-in is 5:00-5:30 a.m. followed by the captain’s meeting and then shotgun start.

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: RTT Competition Recaps

Fishing has begun across the Razoryak Tournament Trail for 2016 and so far it’s been very competitive, with some familiar and some new names at the top of the standings for early events. BoldBluegill

In NW Arkansas, the Arkansas Kayak Anglers kicked off their season on Swepco Lake on an incredibly blustery day. Nathan Bohannon took 1st place and Jason Klingman walked away with big bass. I was one of several anglers who didn’t spend the full day on the water due to the wind and finished 16th out of 61 anglers. My catches came on Yum plastics. For more info, read the tournament recap here.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette was there to cover the Swepco Lake event and wrote up a great article about kayak fishing. This was great local coverage of the sport and our members they interviewed represented us well.

Western Arkansas Kayak Anglers held their kickoff event on my nemesis lake, Lake Fort Smith. It was a cold, dark and rainy day with a very tough bite – producing almost no limits. Lloyd Mize took 1st, Christa Hibbs 2nd, Benny Williams Sr. 3rd, and Brandon Ward took big bass. My love/hate relationship with Lake Fort Smith continues as I scratched out a 13th place finish out of 31 anglers, catching my fish on a Bandit squarebill.

Kayak Bass Anglers of Central Arkansas has had two events, with Jeff Otts winning the first event, and Terry Brown taking the second.  For Twin Lakes Kayak Anglers, Eli Powers took the top spot in their first event of the year. Visit the Razoryak Tournament Trail standings page for up to date rankings on all four trails.

 

Lake Fort Smith WAKA Preview

The first Western Arkansas Kayak Anglers tournament of 2016 will be held at a beautiful, but infamous body of water located south of the Bobby Hopper tunnel on I-49. Lake Fort Smith is a 1,400 acre fishery LakeFSMsurrounded by the scenic Boston Mountains and is one of the most beautiful lakes in Arkansas. This mountain lake can be quite clear, but like last spring, the lake is currently dirty and muddy – which some anglers will love and some will loathe.

Lake Fort Smith (which is not located in Fort Smith, Arkansas) is probably only infamous in my mind because of the two nightmarish tournaments I spent there last year. This lake is the site of my personal best both in fishing tackle broken off and rod and reel combos lost. Otherwise, it’s great.

The tournament is on Saturday, March 12, and will start from the boat ramp in the state park area.  Captain’s meeting is at 5:30 a.m. and will take off around 6:00 a.m., with scorecards due in the bucket by 2:00 p.m. Read more about it on the WAKA 2016 Opener at Lake Fort Smith Facebook page. Lake Fort Smith has the best ramp, parking and setup area of any of the tournaments I’ve been to – it’s really a nice place to hold an event.

The lake itself is fairly new creation, a combo of old Lake Fort Smith and Lake Shepherd Springs which re-opened in 2008. High winds out of the southwest or northeast can make it difficult, but the orientation of the lake can blunt some winds from the northwest or southeast. The most prominent attributes are the dam to the far southwest end and the main feeder creek far to the northeast. The ramp, park and the marina are situated in a large cove on the northern side of the lake. This lake has a lot of great scenes like waterfalls, small creeks, coves and bluffs. Do be wary crossing the lake in a kayak, there are boats that will motor through, so be sure to have your visibility flag deployed.

Last year’s two tournaments out there were held after the spawn period, so the lake should be totally different this time around. Dock talk says the water is already stained, with lots of rain on the way this week. The great thing about this lake is that if you want to fish bluffs, go ahead. Like a big flat or rip rap areas? Go ahead. And if you like standing and fallen timber, Lake Fort Smith has it. Basically, you can fish how you want to thanks to the variety of options.

Razoryak Tournament Trail events are a fun way to meet other kayak anglers, improve your fishing skills and to enjoy friendly competition. To participate in this WAKA event, no advance registration is required; you can show up with your entry fee, hawg trough and kayak on tournament day. Be sure to review all of the information on the 2016 WAKA Opener event page and check out the WAKA-RTT Schedule for info on future events.