Super spring action should be on tap


Super spring action should be on tap as Hobie B.O.S. Anchored by Power-Pole® launches its third event of the season.

OCEANSIDE, Calif.  - With an abundance of bass, 315 miles of shoreline, and a reputation for producing lunkers under tournament pressure, Lake Dardanelle is widely considered Arkansas’ premiere fishing venue. Last year, Hobie’s elite kayak bass anglers tested the big lake under a September sun with exciting results. This year, the 2021 Hobie Bass Open Series (B.O.S.) Anchored by Power-Pole® offers a shot at super springtime action.

“This is our second visit to this terrific bassin’ hot spot,” notes tournament director, A.J. McWhorter. “Last year we came in late summer and it was a real shootout as Drew Gregory of Kent, Ohio, edged out Eric Siddiqi of Cincinnati via a tie-breaker with both anglers tallying 171 inches of catch, photograph and release (C.P.R.) largemouth bass during the two-day event. This year’s competition has the potential to be even more explosive as warming spring weather should kick spawning season into high gear, with three stages of bass ready to chomp competitor’s lures and trophy-class fish a distinct possibility. Anglers will find a diverse fishery here where current, vegetation and hard structure can all come into play.”

Indeed, at 34,000 acres, this impoundment of the Arkansas River really can produce. Host to many top professional tournaments each year, Dardanelle is the primary pool on the McClellan-Kerr Navigation System. Featuring an average depth of 15 feet, maximum depth of 61 feet, and over 300 miles of shoreline, these expansive waters stretch for 50 miles, offering kayak bass fans tons of potential to focus on individual strengths. In addition to largemouths, the diverse fishery also includes white bass, spotted bass, smallmouths, hybrid stripers, big catfish and more.

“I really like that when Hobie revisits an event site they do it at a different time of season,” says the 42-year-old Gregory, who in addition to winning the Lake Dardanelle competition last year also claimed the 2020 Angler of the Year award. “That makes it fair for everyone because the previous winner has to face a brand-new set of conditions. I’d love to repeat as champion here, but the timing is different from last year and the competition will certainly be challenging. That said, I’ll be giving it my all.”

Although he’s never fished Dardanelle in the spring, Gregory is looking forward to the opportunity. “April is a great month to catch big bass,” he continues. “It’s the absolute prime season in this part of the country. I figure the water will be high and muddy, which means anglers are going to have to either choose between, or combine, two primary approaches. They’ll have to either fish the muddy water where big pre-spawn bass might be easier to fool, or search for limited clear water to target bass already on their beds.”

Gregory suspects he’ll actually combine these strategies, working dingy water early each morning until catching his limit, then trying to upgrade by isolating big bass on beds identified during pre-fishing. “If you can put that combo together maybe you get a win,” he says, “but that’s easier said than done.”

In terms of lure selection, Gregory suggests tying on a spinnerbait, ChatterBait® or swim jig and backing any of these with a soft-plastic jerkbait or floating worm. “This lake has a lot of grass, but floating worms come through that pretty well,” he adds.

Like Gregory, local sharpie Cody Milton is rearing to go. He’ll be looking for current pinch-points and throwing squarebill crankbaits because they are fairly weedless, dig in well, and have dominated the catches of pro bass legends like Rick Clunn on these waters in recent years.

“This lake fishes really well in the spring,” reveals Milton, 27, from Searcy, Arkansas. “I’m expecting the fish to be more evenly distributed than they were last summer. The way the weather is trending, the spawn should be in full swing by the time we get started. That means the fish should be relatively easy to find and big bags will likely be prevalent. I’m thinking it will take 93 inches or more per day to win.”

“That sounds about right,” agrees Gregory. “Last September, 112 competitors at this event caught nearly 700 bass. With the timing of this competition being right on cue for fast action and big fish, those numbers might push significantly higher.”

In addition to substantial cash prizes, the top three non-qualified anglers at the Lake Dardanelle event will qualify for the Hobie Tournament of Champions (T.O.C.) to be held on Lake Eufaula, Alabama, November 12 – 14. All-important points toward Angler of the Year, Presented by FarWide, the Outdoor Access App, will be distributed to the top 100 competitors. The angler catching the largest bass of the two-day tournament will earn a $400 check for the Bassin’ Big Bass Award, and winner of the Dakota Lithium Power Move, which recognizes the person with the greatest leap up the leader board from Day 1 to Day 2, will receive a Dakota Power Box with 10-amp lithium battery.

Whether records fall or not at the Dardanelle event, there’s no doubt competitors will be welcomed with enthusiasm upon arrival. “Russellville is super excited to have the Hobie B.O.S Anchored by Power- Pole® back in town!” says Christie Graham, Executive Director, Russellville Tourism and Visitor Center. “Anglers can expect to catch the big one on Lake Dardanelle as they find the perfect cove. With this being one of the top bass-fishing destinations in the country, I’m sure you’ll all quickly fall in love with our waters and hometown feel. We can’t wait to see you!”