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

The thriller on the river

Arkansas River at Lake Dardanelle left some emotional wrecks

A last-minute stop on the way back to weigh-in yielded a 3 1/2- and a 4 1/2-pounder for Swindle.A last-minute stop on the way back to weigh-in yielded a 3 1/2- and a 4 1/2-pounder for Swindle.
Christie, who lives in Park Hill, Okla., is experienced on another Arkansas River pool – Kerr Reservoir, in his home state. Rather than flipping a jig, he was swimming it.

"The pool I live on, that's just what we do," he said. "After the spawn, you swim a jig. I had some really good teachers on swimming a jig.

"I tried to flip it, and let it go to the bottom, but they wouldn't eat it that way. (The jig) had to be up high (in the water column)."

Even in the muddy water, Christie said he saw every bass he caught bite the jig, just 3 or 4 inches under the surface. They were holding under shallow mats of aquatic vegetation. He was using a 1/2-ounce Booyah jig with a Yum Craw Chunk trailer, both in black-and-blue.

Although he moved up in the standings each day, from 26th to 10th to 4th, Christie thought he blown his chance to win before the final day. The second day his 16-10 bag included a 1 1/2-pounder, a small keeper he wasn't able to cull. The third day he tried to swing a 7-pounder in the boat, after not retying his jig recently to remove any abrasions.

"I just didn't think that fish was that big," Christie said. "I thought it was a 4- or 5-pounder. We swing those in all the time. Once she started coming out of the water, I knew I'd made a mistake."

Added Christie, "I felt like I was giving the tournament away."

Christie edged out Hackney and Swindle in a dramatic finish.Christie edged out Hackney and Swindle in a dramatic finish.
Swindle, on the other hand, felt like destiny had suddenly swung in his favor during Sunday's final hours. Unlike most other anglers, Swindle found fish way off the bank.

"At 2:10, I had three good fish and two 14-inchers," he said. "They didn't weigh a pound-and-a-quarter. I wasn't getting any bites. I made an adjustment and moved outside the grass."

Swindle said he felt stupid at first, throwing a 3/8-ounce black-and-blue Original Chatterbait, trailed with a Zoom Z-Hog "as far as I could throw it" and slow rolling it back. There wasn't a target he was aiming for, hence the feeling of looking foolish.

"When you get a 5 1/2-pounder to choke it, you're like, 'This ain't so dumb after all,'" Swindle said.

It was when the wind picked up late Sunday afternoon that his flurry began.

"I think I caught 14 keepers in about 35 minutes," Swindle said.

With 20 minutes left before check-in time, Swindle ran out of Illinois Bayou to the Dardanelle State Park weigh-in site. He arrived with 12 minutes remaining.

"So I just pulled over and pitched to a piece of grass and caught a 4 1/2-pounder," Swindle said. "I culled. I didn't know what to do. I had eight minutes left, so I just made another cast and caught a 3 1/2-pounder."

Understandably, that's when Swindle began to think he was destined to win the tournament. As it turned out, destiny left him 5 ounces short of the title.

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