State prom­i­nent in top lakes list

Mount Ida team wins na­tional ti­tle

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - OUTDOORS/WIMBLEDON - BRYAN HEN­DRICKS

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.

TEAM CHAM­PI­ONSHIP

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.”

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