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:
- Dwain Batey
- Chris Jones
- Cody Milton
- Jason Cossey
- Roy Roberts
- Justin Phillips
- Nathan Henthorn
- Jason Adams
- Brendan Johnson
- 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.