UPCOMING EVENT: YETI College Fishing - 2019 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir


Stable Weather Needed to Ignite Dardanelle

Consistency is what the bass in Arkansas’ Lake Dardanelle need. The Costa FLW Series Central Division opener on this 34,300-acre Arkansas River impoundment will likely see fish in all three stages of the spawn, but to what degree is anyone’s guess. A lot rests in the hands of Mother Nature and Army Corps of Engineers.

The three-day tournament, which is presented by Mercury and hosted by Russellville Advertising & Promotions, kicks off Thursday.

Oklahoma pro Zack Birge says his practice has delivered a few quality fish to 4 pounds. Five of those would make an impressive tournament bag, but Birge says conditions need to stabilize first.

Currently, the water on the main river is dirty, so anglers will have to move to secondary areas, which isn’t all bad since some fish are starting to push toward beds.

“The backwaters are fairly clean, and you can get bit,” Birge says, “but good fish are few and far between.

“The water level has been fluctuating a lot the past few days, and that probably has them messed up. They’re just sitting there waiting. That’s about all they can do.”

If the water levels even out between now and Thursday, the entire lake might turn on and provide anglers with the quality bass fishing Dardanelle is known for.

“We’ve had some 80-degree weather, but we’ve also had some cold spells,” Birge says of his practice time in Arkansas. “With it being warm recently, I think some of the fish moved up, got their stuff done and got out of there. That’s why you have some postspawn fish. But I know there are prespawn fish, and I know there are fish on beds somewhere, if you can just see them.

“I think there are still a lot of fish that haven’t spawned yet because I haven’t seen enough small bucks up shallow,” he adds. “I think a lot of these fish are trying to move up and are going to move up any day. We just need some stable weather. It has to stop going from 30 degrees at night to 80 degrees in the middle of the day.”

Central Division pro Tom Murphy echoes Birge’s observations, but says he’s seen a good number of bed fish already.

“I’m seeing fish shallow, but they hear you coming and they run,” Murphy says. “You click the bail on a reel and they run.”

Temperature ranges are supposed to moderate a little during the tournament, with overnight lows in the upper 30s to low 40s and daytime highs in the upper 60s.


What They’ll Throw

Birge’s best practice fish have been prespawners, and that’s what he’s hoping to target during the tournament. Unless he finds something different before Thursday, he’ll forego traditional moving baits such as spinnerbaits and swim jigs and stick with targeted presentations.

“I tried several areas where I could usually catch high numbers of fish with the majority of those fish in prespawn staging patterns, but I hardly got a bite from any of those places unless I slowed way down and flipped really slow,” Birge says. “I’d pick the spots apart, and every now and then I’d get a bite.”

Murphy has earned a few bites with a diverse arsenal ranging from traditional lipless crankbaits around stumps to an unweighted worm fished slowly around standing timber.

Most anglers are likely to focus on either the flats and pad stems in small pockets off the main river or the bigger bays such as Piney Creek and Illinois Bayou, where they’ll pick apart interior wood. Birge believes two 15-pound bags will earn a top-10 berth, but to win, an angler will need 17 to 18 pounds per day.


Tournament Details

Format: All boaters and co-anglers will compete for two 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 determined by the heaviest cumulative three-day weight.

Takeoff Time: 7 a.m.

Takeoff Location: Lake Dardanelle State Park, 2428 Marina Road, Russellville, AR 72801

Weigh-In Time: Days 1 and 2 at 3 p.m.; Day 3 at 4 p.m.

Weigh-In Location: Days 1 and 2 at Lake Dardanelle State Park; Day 3 at Walmart, 2409 E. Main St., Russellville, AR 72802


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Tags: lake-dardanelle  david-a-brown  pre-tournament  2016-03-31-lake-dardanelle 


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