Looking to Get it Done at Dardanelle

Posted by stephen on May 31, 2017

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We made it here to Dardanelle Sunday evening after a short two hour drive.  This one is basically in the backyard which really is nice with all of the traveling that’s coming up on the Northern swing.  I unpacked my son Beau’s gear after captaining for his BASS High School event and packed up the Triton with all of my favorite river fishing gear.  Beau ended up in fourth place which he was pretty disappointed about.  They take the top two kids to Nationals and he really wanted to qualify.  On the bright side, after winning the Junior Championship last year, he and his partner will get to go defend their title in the Junior Championship again so it’s not a total loss. 

The northern portion of our Elite Series tour will be coming up after Dardanelle and I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to gear up.  It’s going to be quite the switch up after the events we’ve already had to this point.  We’ll be switching over a lot of the heavier stuff for most of the events for some finesse fishing and smallmouth bass. 

June through July are looking to be pretty busy months.  I’ll be captaining Beau again at a couple more high school events at Pickwick and Kentucky Lake along with fishing the next BASS Central Open at the Sabine, getting in the meat of our northern swing, and going to ICast.  After looking at the schedule, it looks like we’ll be home for a total of ten days in that time period.  It’s definitely going to be a whirlwind couple months and also very important ones that will determine how the rest of the season goes. 

We’re ready to get this one kicked off here at Dardanelle.  I’m kind of excited this one is so close to the house.  I don’t get to fish it much anymore, but when I was working my way up the chain, I would fish it a couple times a year.  It’s a place I’ve seen a good amount and feel pretty good about.  It reminds me a lot of the lower Arkansas River that I grew up fishing.  I kind of like it here and would consider it one of the better pools on the whole river system. 

Right now we’ve got a lot of flow on the river.  The Oklahoma portions of the river have received a lot of rainfall and we’re seeing the effects here at Dardanelle.  The river is muddy and because of that, it is probably going to fish pretty small.  I would expect a handful of backwaters to be a factor in this one while the main river being relatively out of the equation. 

Despite heavy flow and muddy water, the fishing seems to be pretty good.  The local events have been taking about seventeen to eighteen pounds a day to win.  For a June derby, that’s some good weights and I expect much of the same for this one.  This one will all be about fishing the moment.  I don’t think this is one where one particular pattern will be the best.  Put eight to ten rods on the deck and go figure them out each day in this one. 

After a couple rough events at Rayburn and Toledo Bend I’m ready to get this thing turned around.  -SB  

Ready for Ross Barnett

Posted by stephen on April 26, 2017

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We just finished up practice at Ross Barnett and it’s definitely been a grind.  These fish seem to be mostly in the postspawn phase and because of it they are in a bit of a lull.  Practice has been frustrating, but I have figured out one little deal where I can catch them.  I’ve been here a few times in the past and the fact that it’s not a very big lake helps you figure things out a little quicker.  To be honest, I think the fishing will get better throughout the event too.  We have warming weather and I wouldn’t read too much into practice as a whole.  The lake has got some big fish and they have showed up throughout the winter and spring in the local events.  Although practice has been tough, I’m optimistic that it will turn into a great event.

Ever since finishing up the debacle at Toledo Bend, I’ve been heavily dedicated to setting the stage for success in the second half of the season.  I went and spent time on both Rayburn and Dardanelle to get ready for those next Elite events.  This four tournament swing including Toledo, Ross Barnett, Rayburn and Dardanelle are all in my wheelhouse.  We started off slow, but I’m focused on turning the train around in the next three.  I’ve had some success at all of those fisheries and specifically at Ross Barnett I’ve been in the top twenty in each of the events I’ve fished here in the past.  It fits my eye for sure.

Toledo was Toledo.  It was what we expect to get when we go to there, but throughout practice I never really found what I needed.  I got into a couple areas I thought I could grind out thirteen to fifteen pounds, but something never felt right.  I normally don’t mind that grind it out style of event, but I was just never able to get into that all important rhythm.  Toledo is a place that I either seem to do real well or stink it up.  I’ve made several final day cuts there, but unfortunately this year it fell into the later category.

Going into the second half of the season we’re down in the points, but it doesn’t both me.  In reality I’ve got about forty spots to move up to get inside that Classic cut and you can knock half of those spots out with one really good event here this week at Ross Barnett.  We should have some solid weights this week and hopefully I can stay with them and grind them out enough to tap into some of those bigger bags they have here. -SB 

Busting Them at the Big O

Posted by stephen on March 12, 2017


I’m back at home after two Elite events and the first Bassmaster Central Open of the season.  Overall, I feel pretty good about our start on the Elites.  We were able to get some great points at Okeechobee and not have a total bomb at Cherokee.  Table Rock was a grind of an event and after a tough day one I was able to come back a little on day two there as well.

Preseason Preparations for the 2017 Season

Posted by stephen on January 24, 2017

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We’re getting that much closer to kicking off another Elite Series season.  With the Cherokee Lake event only a couple weeks away, I’ve been working hard to get everything in order to take on 2017.  I just got in the new Triton on the 13th and got it in to have it and the truck wrapped.  All of the new tackle and Raymarine units have been trickling in and the packing and rigging has begun.

Thanksgiving and Trophy Trout Fishing

Posted by stephen on November 26, 2016

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I want to start off by saying that I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.  We are spending our weekend in Northern Arkansas for Beau’s birthday this Monday.  There is a trophy trout stream below Norfork Lake that is only open to fish if you are under sixteen, so Beau wanted to take full advantage while he still can.  We went last year and he managed some really nice fish on 2 8 weight fly rod which is quite the fight on the light rod.  It’s been a busy week thus far, but we’re happy to be able to spend some time together up here around Norfork.