Arkansas River Central Division

Anxiously awaiting the first tournament of the 96-97 B.A.S.S. Central Division season on the Arkansas River reminds me of my first B.A.S.S. event. My first event was this same tournament last year on the Arkansas River and what a rough one it was. My traveling partner and I had located an area full of bass in practice. Quality fish where I felt that I could get an easy limit each day. In a three day tournament a limit a day has got to be your number one goal. Well one draw back to these fish were that they were 65 miles from the tournament headquarters and there were two locks on the river that I would have to lock through to get there. Each lock takes approximately 30 minutes. So I was looking at two hours of travel time one way. As rumor had it many of the fishermen made the run and had success with the limited fishing time on the unpressured fishing areas that were so far away. I intended to make the run if my partner did not win the toss. Once you meet your partner you have to flip a coin to see who’s boat you take and also to see who’s fish that you go to first. My first day partner was from New Jersey and he was willing to make the run. We left in our flight and started our long run. Two locks and two hours later we pulled into my area. I quickly get the trolling motor down and start fishing. I made a few cast and eased up to a big laydown. I made a cast down each side of the tree and let the spinnerbait fall as it reached the end of the log. No fish, so I picked another target and cast. My partner is flipping a jig and flips into the same laydown I had just fished and sets the hook. A three and a half pounder comes to the boat and into his livewell it went. First of all I was amazed that the fish had not hit my spinnerbait because I know that fish had just seen it and secondly this guy was catching my fish. We fished our way around and this guy catches two more quality fish on the jig fishing behind me, used water. I come off of my game plan and put the spinnerbait down and tie on the exact jig he is throwing. I pull up to a big tree top in the water on the edge of the bank. I have good position on it so I make about ten casts into every little nook and cranny. No fish, so I pick another target and cast. This “guy” flips in there and sets the hook. A solid fish is in the tree tangled up and dangling under a branch. I get on the trolling motor and crash into the tree trying to knock the fish off, just kidding, trying to get into the tree far enough so that I could reach it. I did and he has four solid fish in his livewell. I back off of the tree that I had just crashed into, banged into all of the branches, and even ran the trolling motor all over and figure I had better make a couple of casts into anyway. I make several flips and feel there are no more fish in it or that if there is they are so spooked that they won’t bite and then I flipped to another tree. My partner flips in there and sets the hook. It’s another three pounder and my mind is now totally gone. I was a FISHING FRUITCAKE from that point on. I somehow managed to catch a keeper fish to keep from blanking that day before we had to head back, but that was totally by mistake because I was in la la land kicking rocks with a fat lip. Day two and three went about the same and I ended up way…. way back in the standings. It took me a while before I could analyze the tournament and see what all I had learned. One thing I had learned was how to get waxed by your partner on your own fish. But looking back now it is kind of a humorous memory. Maybe I could have been a little more tuned in and a little more aware and the outcome would have been better for me. Well I will be there the third week of this month and with the knowledge of what not to do and with a little luck maybe I will come out on top.