Tag Archives: Skirmish Baits

KBF Beaver Lake Tournament Recap – It’s Alive!

Dead Sea? Not on this particular Saturday in April when a fickle Beaver Lake decided to give up some nice bass to an armada of kayak anglers battled high winds and a 100+ bass boat tournament.

In the tournament preview it was clear that past kayak fishing tournaments on Beaver Lake have not produced big numbers, and catching a limit usually put you in the top 20. Not this year. The fish are moving up to spawn, were active up shallow and anglers took advantage.

All but eight of the 73 of those entered carded a fish (89%) and a whopping 38 (52%) anglers turned in a limit. These are outstanding numbers not only for Beaver Lake but for any fishing tournament. The only bigger shock than the number of fish caught was a 22.25″ largemouth bass caught by Nathan Henthorn. The tail was so torn and bloodied it was likely a 23″ fish if it hadn’t just spawned out. At the weigh-in many were surprised to see a bass of that size out of Beaver.

Nathan Henthorn's 22.25" Beaver Lake pig.
Nathan Henthorn’s 22.25″ Beaver Lake pig.

First place went to Dwain Batey with 89.50″, second to Craig Wood with 89.25″ and third to Nathan Henthorn with 87″ on the board.

Top 10 Finishers
  1. Dwain Batey (AR)
  2. Craig Wood (AR)
  3. Nathan Henthorn (OK)
  4. Jerry Cornelius (MO)
  5. Justin Coon (MO)
  6. Cody Milton (AR)
  7. Jose Rodriguez (OK)
  8. Gary Kasper (OK)
  9. Jason Cossey (AR)
  10. Carson McBride (AR)

The top 20 was made up of 11 anglers from Arkansas, 3 from Oklahoma, 2 from Missouri, 2 from Kansas, 1 from Texas, and 1 from Tennessee.

View complete tournament results for the KBF Beaver Lake event here.  

Tournament Recaps

Dwain, Craig and Nathan provided some details of how they finished in the top spots:

Dwain – My first bite of the morning was on the Skirmish Baits M9 squarebill in the Army Green Craw color, and it was the 21.50” kicker fish. That bite alone really helped me keep my head in the game the rest of the day. I managed to get my first 3 fish on that bait, but as the day went on the bite shifted away from the crankbait and I started putting fish in the kayak with a shaky head. I was using a Netbait 6 inch straight tailed worm in a green pumpkin/blue swirl, but my key was using a spike-it marker to put some orange on the bait to closer match the crankbait color I was using. Rather than putting the orange on the tail, I marked about the first ½” of the head of the worm with the orange to put the focus near the hook. I was catching my shaky head fish around docks in Prairie Creek. Late in the day I managed to catch one last fish on the M9 that give me a cull up of 1/4” which turned out to be my margin of victory in the end.

Nathan – After doing some Google Maps research, I decided to put in at Horseshoe Bend and fish some of the coves across the main lake from it. My plan was to try to fish for the winning fish and leave the little spotted bass and spinning rod alone. I picked up a good 18.5 inch fish on Skirmish M9 in Goldilocks early. Shortly after I caught the 22.25 and the 18.75 on back to back casts to the same tree. Those fish hit a Booyah jig with a Zoom Z Craw trailer. Unfortunately, after that it was a bunch of small fish for me, and I caught keepers on a variety of baits, mostly the jig and squarebill though.

Craig – I pre-fished three key areas on the south end of the lake with gale force winds all day was able to rule out two last weekend. I couldn’t have been so effective without my Hobie Pro Angler in those conditions. I decided to go to a spot that produced several chunky bass in pre-fishing. It paid off, and a hundred yard stretch netted my entire length for the tournament. Slowtown custom jigs was the bait used.

On To The Next Event

I finished with a small limit of 69.50″ and 26th, just couldn’t find the right fish on the day. Overall it was a great KBF event in Arkansas and hope to see more in the future on Beaver Lake. There is another KBF event in Bella Vista on June 3 which is a night tournament, should be an interesting time! Check it out.

 

Golden Retrievals With Crankbaits

I once heard Bassmaster Elite Series Pro Angler Greg Hackney say that he can “…make a fish bite with a crankbait.” He continued by saying “…because a fish is kind of like a dog. No matter how good of a dog he is you can make ’em bite.” Since poking a stick through a fence won’t work for a bass what’s the magic formula to making it bite? The answer may partially lie in the art of presentation via the retrieval. Let’s look at an example to illustrate some points:

It’s a beautiful day. The sun is out, a slight breeze is blowing and it’s lunch time. You settle down to enjoy your meal and suddenly a pestering fly takes on the persona of Tom Cruise in Top Gun. Ole “Maverick” is coming in to buzz your tower and spoil your peace. First it flies right by your noggin causing your head to flinch. Next it hits your fingers holding your beloved BLT sandwich. You flail your hand to try and shoo the quarter inch pain in the posterior away. Next, as a coup de grace, the fly zooms up to your face and hovers a mere inch from your eye. You instinctively grab for the fly with your Cheeto stained free hand.

Your head moving, your hand shooing, and your grab for the pest are all reactionary actions. You don’t think about it, you just do it. This is why a crankbait is considered a “reaction bait”, because the fish isn’t necessarily biting out of hunger. It’s biting because your goading it into an involuntary, non-hunger induced reaction.

So, let’s put yourself in the place of the fly and run through some progressions. You’ve got your favorite Skirmish crankbait tied on and you’re going to give Billy Bad Bass enough incentive where he can’t ignore your masterly hand painted crankbait any longer.

First Progression: The Steady Retrieve
Probably the retrieve most new anglers use. Throw it out and real it back. It can be effective but the fish need to be in a more aggressive, or arguably a hunger driven, mood. Like the fly buzzing by your head in the example above, a crankbait rolling in and steadily rolling on can cause an action but not necessarily the aggressive bite reaction we are looking for.

Second Progression: Bang It Into Something!
This is a big one and where most strikes occur. Make sure your crankbait is either bouncing along the bottom or colliding into something. Like the fly above your hand will move if a fly runs into it. It’s just instinct. If the bass are relating to wood, brush, or rock don’t be afraid to send that Skirmish hunter killer in there and let it deflect off of that cover. Hitting something near the bass causes the crankbait to rapidly change direction and, as a by-product, creates a slight pause in the retrieve. Bass are opportunistic predators and many times nature will dictate that they react by biting.

Third Progression: The Pause
Here’s a nugget I’ve watched some of the best crankbait fisherman I know, or watched pros, do. Let’s say you’re moving down a bank that doesn’t have a lot of cover. Like the fly above that hovers in front of your face we want our crankbait to do the same. You can reel the crankbait down to running depth, and then give it a short pause. Real it a few turns and then pause. Or, like I’ve seen Elite Series crankbait expert Kevin Short do, the pull and pause. Just like it sounds you reel down the crankbait to running depth, pull the bait, pause while reeling back in the slack and then pull again. Rinse and repeat. In this action you try to mimic our hovering fly with the pauses. A bass will have trouble passing up an easy meal that swims up and pauses right in front of it.

While you’re out this season with your Skirmish crankbait tied on try these methods and watch your strike percentages increase. If your friends take notice and ask you what your secret is, just smile and say “fly fishing!”

— Justin Phillips

Spotlight: Expert Crankbait Tips, Choosing a Stand-Up Paddle, Jeff Malott Wins KBS on Table Rock, Installing LED Lights, AKA and WAKA Results

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Taking off on Beaver Lake the morning of the AKA NW Arkansas road-runner event.

This week’s spotlight features some great content and some exciting results involving some of my fellow Arkansas Kayak Anglers.

Dwain Batey is maybe the best crankbait kayak angler I know of and he’s put together a great article called Why You Can’t Catch Fish on a Squarebill Crankbait. Despite the title, Dwain does everything he can in this article to help you catch fish on a crankbait. He should know, he’s the owner of Bait Werks Custom Lure Painting and paints all of the lures for Skirmish Baits. If you like to fish crankbaits or want to improve, this is a good place to start.

Fellow Arkansas Kayak Angler Jeff Malott won a cool $3,000 this past weekend at the KBS Open on Table Rock Lake. Jeff is a great angler who works hard at his craft and deserved the win. Jeff caught eight bass and turned in a limit of 82″ inches on a post-front day. He is the tournament director for Arkansas Kayak Angler events, one of the founders of the Razoryak Tournament Trail and serves on many other kayak fishing related boards. It’s no surprise an AKA member won on Table Rock; clear and rocky water like that is home turf. Jeff is currently at the top spot in the AOY points for AKA and has a great season. Check out Jeff’s blog, Yakfish Arkansas.

If you are fortunate enough to have a Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP), they are a lot of fun. Choosing the right paddle can make all the difference. Bending Branches has this great article about Choosing a Stand-Up Paddle that’s helpful and includes some graphics representing the height of the paddler to the paddle and the right angle at which to make a paddle stroke.

Kayakfishingblog.com has an updated layout and look if you haven’t seen it in a while. They posted a good article on Installing LED Fishing Lights that you might want to check out. My own article on Installing LED Lights On Your Kayak has been a popular one on this blog. Between these two articles you should be well on your way towards an install.

Western Arkansas Kayak Anglers and Arkansas Kayak Anglers have updated their respective Angler of the Year points rankings after their most recent events. In northwest Arkansas, the AOY standings are taking shape with only two events left. Jeff Malott, Dwain Batey, Jason Kincy (me), Decland McDonald and Tim Hotchkin are sitting in the top five spots, with the top three places separated by eight points. Overall, there are 108 anglers in the points race. For WAKA, Brandon Ward and Cody Skelton are in a tight race for first, with Tommy Mcguire, Christa Hibbs and Joe Feyen rounding out the top five. Having only fished two events this year for WAKA, I’m currently sitting at 21 out of 47 anglers.