Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a series profiling 2014 Elite Series locations.
Limit catches should be the norm when the Bassmaster Elite Series pros venture to Lake Dardanelle, Ark., in mid May. Frank Leone, a fisheries management biologist for Arkansas Game and Fish, claims that 2013 was the best year for bass fishing here since 2007.
“It will be good in 2014, too,” Leone says.
The bass in Lake Dardanelle, a 34,300-acre run-of-river reservoir, were negatively impacted by three consecutive high water years from 2007 through 2009.
“We finally had some average to low water in 2011 and 2012 and the bass population bounced right back,” Leone says.
Another plus for the Elite pros is that the minimum length limit for bass at Dardanelle was lowered from 15 to 14 inches in January 2013. The change was prompted by the results of an eight-year study of the Arkansas River fishery by the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
If the winter and spring are cool, the bass during the Elite tournament will be mainly in a postspawn phase, Leone asserts. With warmer weather, the bass will be well into their summer feeding patterns.
Heavy rainfall could be a fly in the soup. It would muddy the water and create a swift current that would hamper fishing on the main river portions of the lake.
Elite Series pro Kevin “Pink” Short of nearby Mayflower, Ark., has seen Lake Dardanelle’s good, bad and ugly. He has fished the lake since boyhood and has pocketed a boatload of cash competing in tournaments here.