Arkansas' Top Tournament Fishery to Test B.A.S.S. Amateurs
RUSSELLVILLE, Ark., June 19, 2001-The most popular site for holding bass
tournaments in Arkansas will be tested this week by the top amateur anglers
from eight states. And what they hope to find on Lake Dardanelle is the
quality bass fishing this fishery is famous for in summertime.
The B.A.S.S. Federation Central Divisional is June 20-22 with anglers from
eight states entered in the tournament. It is sanctioned by B.A.S.S., the
largest fishing organization.
Represented in this regional championship are the states of Arkansas,
Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri. The
96 contestants qualified for their 12-man state teams after advancing from
local bass club tournaments to the state team level. While the contestants
measure up against the B.A.S.S. pros as amateurs, they are by no means
secondary in ability. Most fish weekly and can go rod to rod with their
Winning the overall tournament is one goal, but the more valuable objective
for anglers is finishing in first place on their respective state teams.
After the conclusion of the contest Friday (June 22), eight state
champions advance to the next level of competition, the 2002 B.A.S.S.
Federation Championship. Four other regional tournaments held this year will
also determine qualifiers for the championship, dates and location to be
announced. Competing will be all 46 state champions and international
representatives from Canada, Japan, Italy, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Also up for grabs will be state bragging rights. The $26,800 prize purse
will be divided between the states based on how they finish beginning with
the first place team. The money will be used to fund conservation and civic
projects in their home states.
The Arkansas River impounds this tournament fishery, and it once produced a
world championship record that has yet to be broken. Downstream from Lake
Dardanelle, the 1984 BASS Masters Classic was won by legendary pro angler
Rick Clunn, whose 75-pound, 9-ounces winning weight remains the event's
heaviest on record. That Classic was also held in summertime, not unlike
next week's Federation event upstream on the river.
Lake Dardanelle is named as a lake but fishes more like a river. With 34,000
acres of backwaters and flooded river channel, it ranks as a structure
fisherman's dream come true. In summertime, largemouth stack up on main
channel ledges, feeding on baitfish when ample current is generated by the
river's lock-and-dam system. Yet anglers preferring shallow water aren't
alienated from the hot summertime action. Backwater areas hold year-round
populations of largemouths in a variety of dense cover. From flipping the
shallows to cranking deep ledges, Dardenelle has something for any angler.
The rules for this competition allow each angler to bring back five bass
measuring at least 12 inches in length. The fish are held inside aerated
livewells, weighed and then released back into the fishery. A 4-ounce
penalty applies to any fish brought back dead, a costly mistake and one that
is rarely made by these conservation-minded anglers. Scores are based on
total pounds and ounces.
Daily weigh-ins will be held at the Dardanelle State Park (2428 Marina Road,
Russellville) and begin at 2:30 p.m. (Central).
The B.A.S.S. Federation is the conservation and civic services arm of
B.A.S.S. The federation is a grass-roots organization of bass clubs whose
members plan, serve, endorse, lobby and support conservation efforts,
community service projects and youth programs. The global network of 51
federations and 2,800 clubs provides a critical lifeline from national ideas
to widespread implementation and action.
By sanctioning over 20,000 tournaments worldwide, B.A.S.S. is the world's
largest fishing organization. The BASSMASTER Tournament Trail is the oldest
and most prestigious pro bass fishing tournament circuit. It continues to
set the standard for credibility, professionalism, and sportsmanship after
more than three decades. B.A.S.S. is a wholly owned subsidiary of ESPN.
ESPN2 will air an hour special on the 2001 BASS Masters Classic set for New
Orleans in early August. The telecast is August 18 at 9 p.m. (Eastern). The
program will provide complete coverage of bass fishing's world championship
held on the sprawling Louisiana Delta.
Sponsors of the 2001 B.A.S.S. Federation Central Divisional tournament are:
Ranger Boats, RangerTrail Trailers, Mercury Marine, Chevrolet
Trucks, Humminbird/Zercom Electronics, Pennzoil Marine, ACDelco
Batteries, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, Motorguide Trolling Motors,
Quantum Rods and Reels, Berkley Trilene, Berkley Power Bait, Eagle Claw
Fishhooks, Worldwaters.com, First USA, Long John Silver's, Kumho Tires,
Gore-Tex, GMAC Insurance and Armstrong Industrial Hand Tools.