Follow Us


HOBIE B.O.S. lands at Lake Dardanelle

Fishing Stories |


With an abundance of bigmouths and 34,000 acres to explore, Arkansas’s premiere bass tournament venue is sure to challenge an elite kayak field.

OCEANSIDE, Calif. (September 8, 2020) – The famed bass waters of Lake Dardanelle, an impoundment of the Arkansas River, is the next stop for the Hobie Bass Open Series (B.O.S.)and it promises to be an exciting one. Host to many top professional tournaments each year, this lake is a primary pool of the McClellan-Kerr Navigation System. Featuring an average depth of 15 feet, maximum depth of 61 feet, and over 300 miles of shoreline, the expansive waters here stretch for 50 miles, offering kayak bass fans tons of potential to focus on individual strengths. In addition to bigmouths, the diverse fishery also includes white bass, spotted bass, smallmouths, hybrid stripers and a mix of big catfish.

“Lake Dardanelle is located in the central region of the ‘Natural Sate’ and, in addition to offering solid bass fishing, it’s pretty easy to get to,” says Tournament Director, A.J. Mcwhorter. “It’s a six-hour ride or less from Nashville, Dallas, St. Louis or Kansas City. In terms of the bass, there’s a solid population of fish measuring up to 20 inches, plus a decent number of lunkers on top of that. There’s also enough shoreline, weeds and structure here for anglers to use a variety of techniques. As usual, entrants will be competing for a cash payout of 10% of the field, and the top-three non-qualified anglers will earn a spot in our Tournament of Champions (T.O.C.) this November in Knoxville, Tennessee. We’ll have plenty of random giveaway prizes. too.”

Being a river system, anglers can expect both current and vegetation to come into play here. They may also have to deal with the beginning of the fall transition as nighttime temperatures continue to fall and the bass switch back and forth between late-summer and fall patterns. Much of the action is likely to take place along the main lake shoreline, but there are ledges bordering the major channel, plus significant tributaries, including Big Piney Creek, Spadra Creek and Illinois Bayou, to consider. As a rule, the backwaters here tend to be relatively clear, but the main river channel is sometimes stained.

“It’s always good to keep in mind that the bass fishing here is current-driven, and that water depths can fluctuate a bit,” says Garrett Morgan of Conway, Arkansas. A frequent Hobie B.O.S. competitor, and 2019 T.O.C. qualifier, he notes there are plenty of pockets, eddies, and depressions to work, in addition to all the shoreline brush. “With so much good water to probe here, it makes sense to keep moving,” he advises. “You might find a bunch of 12- to 15-inch bass in one spot but find another area a short distance away where most fish run 15 to 18 inches. Bass measuring over 20 inches in length have been tougher to come by in these waters the past few years, but there are some around and they can attack at any time so always be ready for a crushing strike.”

Morgan suggests anglers fish to their own strengths on Lake Dardanelle. If you like to work deep ledges, look to the channels, he advises. If you’d rather work in the brush, head toward the shore. If punching through weed mats is how you tend to score, you’ll find plenty of vegetation to work on the flats. “There are even areas with submerged timber here if you look around,” notes Morgan. “Come prepared to fish a variety of ways but lean heavily on what you do best because you’ll find the right water for every technique somewhere on this lake.”

Another tip from Morgan: Don’t fear the murky water. It can hold plenty of fish – you just need to figure out what you need to use so they can see, feel, smell or sense your bait.

With so much potential, and an elite kayak fishing field determined to push their skills to the limit, Morgan figures it will take a pretty big haul to grab the top spot in this Hobie B.O.S. event. “I think you’re looking anywhere from 176 to 181 total inches,” he predicts, “so you’re going to have to pull close to 90 inches a day to finish in the top three. This is my third B.O.S. this year, and I’m looking to maybe qualify for the T.O.C. again. It’s going to be hard, though, because the season is growing short and there are a lot of anglers that would love to get one of those spots.”

Fellow competitor Jeff Malott, from Fayetteville, Arkansas, is one of them. He’s been fishing Hobie B.O.S. events since the series started. “I’m always looking for the best competition I can find,” says Malott, “and the B.O.S. provides that at every opportunity. Just to be able to compete with the guys and gals that sign up for these tournaments is unbelievable, and the events are so well run and so well organized – even considering all the complications of these strange times. Additionally, most B.O.S. contests are held on waters many kayak anglers would include in their ‘bucket list,’ so that’s another great reason to attend.”

No stranger to the tournament trail, Malott is the founder of the Natural State Kayak Anglers – the largest fishing club in Arkansas – as well as the Arkansas State Bass Championship, so you can bet he’s a serious threat to finish in the money over the weekend event. “I like to flip and pitch Texas rigs and jigs, and there’s plenty of room for that here,” he reveals. “Like Garrett points out, this is a river system, so you can find plenty of little back waters, eddies, lay downs and targets to throw at. That’s usually my first plan of attack, but there’s a good topwater bite in the early fall, too, and that could come into play as well. I’m hoping to catch 85- to 90-inches of bass each day because that’s what it’s going to take to win this tournament. There are enough four- to six-pound bass in this lake to make a big difference in the scores, and you’ll probably need one or two of those brutes to get over the top.”

No matter how they fish, anglers here should be happy to learn that Lake Dardanelle is more of a “fishing lake” than a recreational water sports paradise. “We’ll see a few jet skis, water tubes and pontoon boats,” says Christie Graham, Executive Director, Russellville Tourism and Visitor Center, “but this spot is a little quiet compared to some of our more favored boating waters. With a little bit of effort, anglers should be able to find some elbow room, push back into the coves, and dig in to catch the big ones. We’re excited to have the Hobie B.O.S. come to town, and we can’t wait to see you all. We’re sure everyone will have a great time.”

Login leave a reply