Bassmaster Elite at Lake Dardanelle Lake Dardanelle - Russellville, AR, May 15 - 18, 2014

Musical chairs at Lake D?

Standings tight on first day, but Day 2 will be another day

James Overstreet
Andy Montgomery caught the big bass of Day 1, which he called fortunate. "I didn't get a whole lot of bites," he said.

RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. — Be prepared for the leaderboard to get "all shook up" on Day 2 of the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament at Lake Dardanelle. Day 1 packed the standings so tight that anything could happen Friday.

That would match the fishing on this Arkansas River reservoir — constant change.

"It's changed every day for me," said Keith Combs, fresh off a Toyota Texas Bass Classic win last weekend on Lake Fork. He's in fourth place with 19 pounds, 14 ounces.

"The current, the water color – everything is changing. In one spot I caught nothing. I came back later and caught three good ones."

Andy Montgomery is in seventh place with 19-7, which included the big bass of the day, a 6-5.

"I was fortunate to get a big bite," Montgomery said. "I got real fortunate. I didn't get a whole lot of bites."

Whoever gets fortunate and lands a big one Friday will make a major move up the standings.

Out of 107 anglers, only five didn't catch a five-bass limit Thursday. Almost half the field – 53 anglers, to be exact – is packed within four pounds – from 20th place Justin Lucas (16-15) to 73rd place Brandon Lester (13-1).

John Crews leads the tournament with 22-9. But it's not like he's locked-in to a winning pattern.

"I'm running around a bunch," Crews said. "I'm fishing a big stretch of the lake. I had been fishing one way most of the morning. I changed baits and caught a 4 ½- or 5-pounder. I saw something that clued me in to what I needed to be doing."

But that was Thursday.

Tomorrow is always another day, so to speak, on Lake Dardanelle. Greg Hackney, who is in second place with 21-13, found that fishing was different Thursday than it had been in practice.

"I got a handful of bites. I just got the right ones," said Hackney, who had two identical big bass in his bag; both weighed 5-1. "I didn't catch the numbers that I'd been catching in practice."

The bites were so infrequent that Hackney thought somebody must have been fishing his spots before he got there. That wouldn't be unusual on this 40,000-acre lake that "fishes small."

"I felt like I must have been rotating behind somebody," he said. "It got better as the day progressed, but it never got wide open like it has been."

Hackney finally got keyed in to the fact that fish were relating to cover "just a hair different than they have been." And that made all the difference. It's just one more example of the constantly changing bite on Lake Dardanelle.

Grant Goldbeck was the third angler to top the 20-pound mark Thursday with 20-1. Goldbeck is praying that his hot spot doesn't change Friday, but he's not counting on it. After he caught most of his weight by 9:30 a.m., he spent the rest of the day looking for new water.

"You've got to have plenty of back-up," he said. "You never know how it's going to play out."

But Goldbeck might be on something a bit different than everyone else. For one thing, it's not shallow. Most of this field is "fishing in the dirt." Goldbeck said he caught a 2-pound crappie during practice that clued him into a place where fish are holding in 14 to 15 feet.

"There's so much food in the lake right now, I think these fish are just sitting there getting fat," he said. "I think they spawned about a month ago."

Goldbeck's bag included one of those difference-makers, a 5-12.

Anything weighing five pounds or more is a difference-maker here. Lake Dardanelle has an abundance of those. That's why both Hackney and Crews think a 25-pound bag is possible.

"I think if somebody catches 25 pounds, it'll be with five 5-pounders," Hackney said.

The field will be cut to the Top 50 after Friday's weigh-in. Two of those 5-pounders, like Hackney caught Thursday, will move anyone from the bottom to the top of the leaderboard. It's going to be moving day.
 

advertisement

advertisement