OCEANSIDE, California – With an abundance of bass, 315 miles of shoreline, and a reputation for producing blow holes under tournament pressure, Lake Dardanelle is widely recognized as Arkansas’ premier fishing spot. Last year Hobie’s elite kayak bass anglers tested the large lake under a September sun with exciting results. This year, the 2021 Hobie Bass Open Series (BOS), anchored by Power-Pole®, offers a shot of super spring action.
“This is our second visit to this great bass hotspot,” notes Tournament Director AJ McWhorter. “We came in late summer last year and it was a real shootout when Drew Gregory from Kent, Ohio, ousted Eric Siddiqi from Cincinnati via a tie-breaker, both anglers with 171 inch trout, photo and release largemouth bass (CPR) counted during the two day event. This year’s competition has the potential to get even more explosive as the warming spring weather should get the spawning season in full swing. Three bass stages are ready to crush competitor bait and trophy grade fish. Anglers will find diverse fishing here, where currents, vegetation and hard structure can come into play. “
In fact, this Arkansas River impoundment can actually produce 34,000 acres. Dardanelle hosts many top professional tournaments each year and is the main pool of the McClellan-Kerr navigation system. With an average depth of 15 feet, a maximum depth of 61 feet, and over 300 miles of shoreline, these expansive bodies of water stretch for 50 miles, giving kayak bass fans plenty of potential to focus on individual strengths. In addition to trout, the diverse fisheries also include white perch, spotted perch, small mouth, hybrid strips, large catfish and much more.
“I really like it when Hobie visits a venue again, at a different time of the year,” says 42-year-old Gregory, who not only won the Lake Dardanelle competition last year but also won the 2020 Angler of the Year award . “That makes it fair for everyone because the previous winner has to face a brand new set of conditions. I would love to repeat here as a champion, but the timing is different from last year and the competition will certainly be challenging. That means I’ll give it my all. “
Although he has never fished Dardanelle in the spring, Gregory looks forward to the opportunity. “April is a great month to catch big bass,” he continues. “It is the absolute peak season in this part of the country. I’m assuming the water will be high and muddy, which means anglers will either have to choose between two main approaches or combine them. They either need to fish the muddy water, where the big bass is easier to fool before spawning, or look for limited clear water to catch the bass already on their beds. “
Gregory suspects that he will actually combine these strategies by working dingy water early every morning until it hits its limit and then trying to upgrade by isolating the big bass on the beds identified during the pre-fishing . “If you can put that combination together, you might win,” he says, “but that’s easier said than done.”
Regarding the choice of bait, Gregory suggests tying a spinnerbait, ChatterBait® or swimming jig and backing it up with a soft plastic jerkbait or a floating worm. “This lake has a lot of grass, but swimming worms get through pretty well,” he adds.
Like Gregory, local felt pen maker Cody Milton is on his way. He’ll be looking for current pinch points and square-billed crank baits because they’re pretty weed-free, dig in well, and have dominated the catches of professional bass legends like Rick Clunn on these waters in recent years.
“This lake fishes very well in the spring,” reveals the 27-year-old Milton from Searcy, Arkansas. “I expect the fish to be more evenly distributed than last summer. As for the weather, the spawn should be in full swing at the beginning of us. That means the fish should be relatively easy to find and large sacs will likely predominate. I think it will take 93 inches or more a day to win. “
“That sounds about right,” agrees Gregory. “Last September, 112 participants caught almost 700 basses at this event. Since the timing of this competition is precisely geared towards fast action and big fish, those numbers could go up significantly. “
In addition to substantial cash prizes, the top three unqualified anglers from the Lake Dardanelle event will qualify for the Hobie Tournament of Champions (TOC), which will take place November 12-14 at Lake Eufaula, Alabama. Important points for Angler of the Year, presented by FarWide, the Outdoor Access App will be distributed to the top 100 competitors. The angler who catches the biggest bass of the two-day tournament will receive a check for $ 400 for the Bassin ‘Big Bass Award and Dakota Lithium Power Move winner, which will be the person with the biggest jump on the leaderboard from day 1 through day 1 will be awarded Day 2 will receive a Dakota Power Box with a 10-ampere lithium battery.
Whether or not the records fall at the Dardanelle event, participants will undoubtedly be greeted with enthusiasm when they arrive. “Russellville is thrilled to have the PowerPole® Hobie BOS anchored back in town! “Says Christie Graham, General Manager of the Russellville Tourism and Visitor Center. “Anglers can expect to catch the big one on Lake Dardanelle if they find the perfect bay. As this is one of the best bass fishing destinations in the country, you’re sure to all quickly fall in love with our waters and the hometown feel. We can’t wait to see you! “