State prominent in top lakes list
Mount Ida team wins national title
Arkansas waters are prominent in Bassmaster magazine’s annual list of America’s top 100 bass fisheries.
The entire list will appear in Bassmaster’s July/August issue.
While no Arkansas lakes made the overall top 12, Dardanelle (17th), Millwood (20th), Ouachita (22nd) and Bull Shoals (24th) made the top 25 of the Central Division. Table Rock Lake, a bit of which is in Arkansas, ranks 15th.
Mille Lacs Lake in Minnesota, which ranked sixth overall last year, tops this year’s list due to its impressive production of trophy smallmouth bass, said James Hall, Bassmaster’s editor.
“This fishery really got our attention last September during the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship when 94 limits of smallmouth were weighed in that topped the 20-pound mark,” Hall said. “Had that been a four-day event, eventual winner Seth Feider may have topped the 100-pound mark with smallmouth, a feat that has never, ever happened before.”
Rankings are based on more than just one event, Hall said.
“After months of research and processing data from dozens of sources, we realized that the Angler of the Year event was hardly impressive production for the lake,” Hall said. “Thirty-pound limits were weighed in during five team events last fall, including two limits breaking the 36-pound mark. Remember, these are limits of smallmouth. Just incredible.”
Lake Dardanelle, which has hosted three Bassmaster Elite Series events, at least two Elite 50 events and multiple Bassmaster Opens and a BASS Nation championship, is a Bassmaster staple. Regardless of the weather and water conditions, it has been rock-solid consistent for decades.
Bull Shoals Lake has returned to obscurity after stunning Elite Series anglers with its excellence in 2012-13, but it is in excellent shape due to sustained high water in successive springs. Raising the lake level to provide water for minimum flow in the Bull Shoals tailwater helped, too.
Once one of our most vaunted big bass fisheries, Lake Millwood is all but forgotten in tournament circles, but it is still one of our best places to catch big bass.
If the Corps of Engineers will let its grass grow, Lake Ouachita will soon be back among the best in the region.
For the second time in its four-year history, the Bassmaster Team Championship will be held in Arkansas on Dec. 6-9 at Lake Norfork. The winning team will receive a new Nitro Bass Boat and a Mercury motor. The individual winner will earn the final berth into the 2018 Bassmaster Classic.
Teams from 54 affiliated trails around the country will qualify for the Team Championship. Anglers will begin the event in two-angler teams, with a team champion being crowned after the first two days. For the final two days, the six anglers from the top three teams will fish solo.
Bassmaster has a rich recent history with the Mountain Home area. Randall Tharp of Florida won an Elite Series event in April 2016 that was split between Norfork and Bull Shoals Lake with a combined weight of 61 pounds, 10 ounces.
John Stewart, BASS Nation director, said the timing might be perfect for this event to produce memorable weights.
“The Elite anglers showed what Norfork could produce in 2016,” Stewart said. “I think the fishing could be even better in December.”
THRIFT TOPS IN FLW
Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., recently won his second Fishing League Worldwide Tour Angler of the Year title and $100,000, making him the fifth FLW angler to win multiple angler-of-the-year titles.
Thrift started the FLW Tour season off with back-toback second-place finishes in February at Alabama’s Lake Guntersville and Lake Travis in Texas. He finished 6th at
Hunter Davis and Tyler Allenbrand, both of Mount Ida, won the The Bass Federation/Fishing League Worldwide High School Fishing National Championship on Pickwick Lake in Florence, Ala., with a three-day total of 53 pounds, 6 ounces.
The team earned trophies and each won a $5,000 scholarship to their college of choice.
A field of 142 teams competed in the event, which launched from McFarland Park in Florence. The Mount Ida duo won by 1-pound, 14-ounces over the second-place team of Cal Culpepper and Mason Waddell from Harris County, Ga., who weighed in a three-day total of 51-8.
Coached by Hunter’s father, professional Bassmaster Elite Series angler Mark Davis, the Arkansans fished two different areas to amass their heaviest stringer of the tournament, which weighed 23 pounds, 10 ounces. The team used three-quarter-ounce football jigs and Strike King Menace Grub trailers (green pumpkin). the Harris Chain of Lakes in Florida, followed by 12th- and third-place finishes, respectively, at Lake Cumberland in Kentucky and at Beaver Lake.
David Dudley, Andy Morgan and Clark Wendlandt have won three FLW anglerof-the-year titles. Jay Yelas has won two.
“The Angler of the Year is the greatest accomplishment you can have in professional fishing,” Thrift said. “You were the best fisherman all year long. Not one tournament, not the championship, but all year long.”