UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2018 - Lake Okeechobee

Up and Down on Dardanelle

Matt Arey blasts off in search of hawgs on Dardanelle.

Tournament fishing inherently has its ups and downs, but Rayovac FLW Series Central Division anglers are getting a concentrated dose of this angling truism on Lake Dardanelle.

An Army Corps of Engineers impoundment of the Arkansas River, Dardanelle has seen its water level fluctuate with recent rains and the Corps’ efforts to moderate this flow. Dam releases have pulled the lake down enough to reposition fish, adding to the challenge in this event, which is hosted by Russellville Advertising and Promotions.

“If your roof kept closing in on you every night, you’d be moving around too and a little nervous,” says Glenn Browne, who recently won the Northern Division event on Lake Champlain. “They [the Corps] will drop the lake a foot, bring it up a foot. I think that’s what has these fish messed up.”

FLW Tour pro Glenn Browne will throw his homemade black/blue jig most of the day.

Making his home in Florida, Browne loves his shallow flipping, and that will fit well with Dardanelle’s ample shoreline cover. Browne will rely almost solely on his 3/4-ounce homemade black/blue jig with a blue chunk trailer.

“This lake plays shallow really well, and I’m just going to fish my strength, beat the bank, and fish wood and grass,” he says. “I haven’t caught any big ones in practice, but I’m hoping a couple will show up. I’m getting a lot of 14- to 15-inch fish, but I think if you can catch 13 to 14 pounds for two days it will get you close to the top 10. So that’s what I’m shooting for. If I can weed through a bunch of them and catch a 4-pounder and a couple of 3 1/2-pounders, that will be the difference maker.”

Browne says the fluctuating water level will remain a consideration, but he’ll target areas that allow fish optimal flexibility.

“I look for banks that are a little steeper so they can adjust vertically, rather than having to go in and out,” he says.

A one-two punch of frogging and cranking will be Zack Birge's strategy.

Elsewhere, pros like Dicky Newberry will flip an assortment of Texas-rigged plastics, while Michael Wooley’s Strike King KVD 2.5 square-bill will also see plenty of action.

Walmart FLW Tour Rookie of the Year Zack Birge hopes to capitalize on some early topwater action before settling into a winding-and-grinding routine.

“I’ll be frogging grass and shallow cover early, and then I’ll throw a square-bill crankbait,” Birge says. “If I can just get a few good frog bites early, I’ll be in good shape.”

Tour pro Zack Birge readies his tackle for the start of day one on Dardanelle.

Kentucky pro Dan Morehead will also incorporate the surface work into his game plan. He’ll throw a custom-painted Zara Spook in the early hours, but he’s not limiting the bait to that time period.

“The one thing I’ve learned about this lake is that you’d better keep a topwater bait handy at all times,” Morehead says. “These bass are known for running those shad up onto a bar, and when they do, you can catch a few in a hurry.”

FLW Tour pro Dan Morehead will keep a custom Zara Spook handy all day.

Bucking the trend, Central Division point leader Matt Arey will focus his attention on an offshore pattern he developed in practice.

“Typically, in the summertime, these river fish like to live shallow and group up shallow,” Arey says. “There’s a lot of current in this lake because they have been moving a lot of water through this system.

“I did want to look for something a little bit off-the-wall, a little bit different, because that’s how you win tournaments,” he adds. “So I’ve concentrated a little off the bank this week. A lot of our guys are going to be up there beating the bank, but not me. I’ll be fishing a little deeper.”

Arey, who won the FLW Tour events on Beaver Lake the last two seasons, notes that “deep” is a relative term on Dardanelle. Nevertheless, he believes he can find the quality he’s looking for in the offshore range.

“Six to 12 feet is what I’ll be fishing, and 12 is on the deep side for Dardanelle,” he says. “I’ll be fishing a lot of drops and stuff that’s current-related because there’s so much current moving through. I wanted to look for those areas because I know they will replenish. It may or may not work out, but I caught some big ones in practice doing this. I didn’t get many bites, but they were the right ones.”

Arey is keeping his specific baits confidential, but notes that he’ll be using hopping and slow-rolling presentations.

“It’s August, and the fish are kind of sluggish. It’s not like they’re in full feeding mode, so you have to really grind to get those bites” Arey says. “If I can get six to eight bites a day, they’ll be the right ones.”


Click here to view the morning takeoff photo gallery.



Sunrise: 6:30 a.m.

Water temperature: 84 to 86 degrees

Air temperature at launch: 64 degrees

Forecast high: 88 degrees

Wind: east at 5 mph

Weather: sunny


Tournament Details

Format: All boaters and co-anglers will compete for three days. The top 10 boaters and co-anglers based on cumulative weight after two days of competition will advance to the third and final round, with the winner each division determined by the heaviest cumulative three-day weight.

Takeoff time: 6:30 a.m. CT

Takeoff location: Lake Dardanelle State Park, 2428 Marina Rd, Russellville, AR

Weigh-in time days 1 and 2: 2:30 p.m. CT

Weigh-in location days 1 and 2: Lake Dardanelle State Park

Weigh-in time day 3: 3:30 p.m. CT

Weigh-in location day 3: Walmart, 2409 E Main St., Russellville, AR

More information

For complete details and updated information, visit the Rayovac FLW Series tournament page. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Rayovac FLW Series on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter atTwitter.com/FLWFishing.


Tags: lake-dardanelle  flw-series  david-a-brown  morning-story  2015-08-13-lake-dardanelle 


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