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

Fantasy Fishing: Pick pros who will head north

About the author

Jim Root

Jim Root

Jim Root is the author of the Weather Underground blog Reel Weather, an outdoor writer and a competitor in the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Opens presented by Allstate.

Whoever makes the run north at the Bassmaster Elite on Lake Dardanelle is going to win.

Period.

Remember that when you’re setting your Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing team.

Running north is not as easy as it sounds, and it could be downright dangerous.

Last Monday, May 5, there was a small craft advisory with only a 6 mph wind from the southeast. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t imagine how any lake, let alone a river system, could generate waves of that magnitude from such a small wind. I’ve grown up on Lake Ontario, and those waves will practically lay down at 6 mph!

What’s different at Dardanelle is the current, and any time you have a southeast wind, it’s going to push up against that current and get nautical real quick.

Why would I bet the winner would battle through that? That’s what Elite Series pros do.

Right now, there are nasty thunderstorms slamming into Russellville that are creating flash flood advisories, which will no doubt muddy the waters. The forecast also shows a cold front moving in late Monday night and early Tuesday morning that will replace the mid-80-degree temperatures that have been there with mid-60s to high 50s, as well as lows threatening to touch the 30s midweek.

Welcome, all you guys who just got sunburned in Texas!

I’m starting to wonder if B.A.S.S. is dragging this front with it everywhere the tournament trail goes.

The end of the week shows a couple of small storms, but only on one day (as of now) is there a chance of that wind coming out of the southeast, and that’s Friday.

So why head north? Charles “Chuck” Morrison at Classic Catch Guide Service gave me some different thoughts on the lake and told me that the fish are done spawning for the most part. There are still some on beds, still some males guarding, but the majority of the spawn is over.

On the north end of the river, those bigger schools of large fish will be condensed and easier to find day after day. They’re also more likely to be left untouched by guys unwilling to drive more than an hour each way. The fish here are river fish, not lake fish, so they rely on current. The north end will have plenty of that and won’t be impacted as greatly by water being pulled by the dam.

Morrison said there is also a school of monsters at the south end. However, those fish can be hard to find day after day and may not produce 20-plus pounds a day like the school to the north will.

Pros looking to stay in the central or main lake fishing the water willows and hydrilla will find good topwater action in the morning. Morrison said swim jigs and crankbaits will dominate.

Like we saw at Toledo Bend, guys will pretty much be able to fish their strengths this week in Arkansas. I love that about this time of year. Just remember that a lot could change between now and Saturday, and if that front hangs around, it could be a finesse fishing fiesta, and a guy like Aaron Martens could be dominant.

My Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing picks for this week are Mark Davis and Brandon Palaniuk. Davis is the hometown favorite who also just happens to be hotter than a $2 pistol, but we’ve seen Palaniuk make runs more than an hour long at the St. Lawrence to pull in the huge smallmouth that led to victory in New York. If anyone would make that run this week, it’s him.

See the weather predictions for Russellville below, or get a real-time update here.

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