ROGERS, Ark. — Rick Clunn has carried over 10,000 pounds of bass across the weigh-in stage at B.A.S.S. events in his long and storied career, which includes four Bassmaster Classic titles. So it was only fitting that Clunn walked across the Bassmaster Elite Series stage with another winning weight at Beaver Lake. (To view photos from weigh-in)
Clunn teamed with Dayton, Ohio, Sam's Club general manager Mitch Duncan to win the second annual H.O.O.K. (Helping Out Our Kids) Charity Bass Tournament here Friday. They combined for a five-bass-limit, first-place-weight of 14 pounds, 15 ounces.
This victory, of course, won't rank high among Clunn's legendary professional bass fishing accomplishments. But winning always does a body good, even if it's a charity tournament. This one benefited the Children's Miracle Network and Arkansas Children's Hospital.
It marked the first year for B.A.S.S. to be involved with the charity. Almost 20 other Elite Series pros besides Clunn fished in the event. It came one week before the Elite Series resumes at another Arkansas Ozarks, Corps of Engineers-managed lake on the White River – at Bull Shoals.
Clunn, however, didn't think he gained any kind of edge for the Bull Shoals event.
" I probably didn't find anything that will help me next week, outside of feeling good," Clunn said with a smile. "But (feeling good) is always helpful."
The second place team of Dale Marsh and Danny Warren had 14-0 pounds in this tournament that attracted 146 boats. Arkansan Tim Clark took the big bass title and a 2012 Bass Tracker 265 boat with a 4-pound, 12-ounce fish.
Clunn's plan was to run up the main streams that feed Beaver Lake - the White River and War Eagle Creek – and target shallow bass. He started with a square-billed crankbait, but Duncan helped him find the key pattern.
"I hadn't had a bite on a square-bill and he'd caught four or five short fish on a spinnerbait," Clunn said. "I pulled out a three-quarter-ounce Luck "E" Strike Trickster spinnerbait that I still had tied-on from (Lake) Okeechobee (the last Elite Series event).
"I think that was the whole key — the long-drop blades on that spinnerbait."
Beaver Lake has a 15-inch minimum length limit on largemouth bass. The big-bladed spinnerbait started producing keeper-size bass for Clunn and Duncan, including a four-plus-pounder that Clunn caught in the White River.
"Those bigger blades produced better fish," Clunn said.
And all of their bigger bass came from flooded buckbrush. That's why Clunn doesn't think the win will help him much next week at Bull Shoals, where the Corps has been rapidly bringing the lake level down to the power pool or "normal" level.
"Between us, we probably caught eight or nine keepers and probably 20 to 25 fish," Clunn said. "Every one of them was relating to brush. But I don't think we're going to find much (flooded) brush next week."
Duncan is an avid tournament angler who fishes the Ohio Megabass circuit. He and his wife, Becky, have been in northwest Arkansas for a week, and Duncan has spent much of that time fishing on Beaver Lake with Jarrod Pate, who works in the Sam's Club home office in Bentonville. They had found a strong spinnerbait bite in the days leading up to the tournament.
Duncan drew Clunn as a partner by winning a raffle Thursday night during the pre-registration banquet.
"I'd never been to the lake before this week," Duncan said. "And I get to fish with a legend. Life is good.
"I learned a lot. The way (Clunn) handles a rod and reel and his lure presentation, that's probably the difference between an amateur and a pro. It was a great learning experience for me." (To view photos from weigh-in)