It's the last Major in the foreseeable future and it has moved locations in the past two months. Now set for Lake Dardanelle, the Bassmaster Legends presented by Ramada Worldwide has thrown the 51 qualifying anglers quite a few curveballs before a single line has hit the water.
Last year on Arkansas River in August, the fishing was tough, so we tracked down some of the locals who qualified to see how they think the tournament will play out this year.
Here are the five questions we threw at them: 1.) How well do you know Lake Dardanelle? 2.) Will the Legends be as tough as it was last year? 3.) What was your reaction when you had heard the tournament had been moved? 4.) Does the move help or hurt your local advantage? 5.) Have you put a plan together on how to fish Dardanelle?
Knowledge of Dardanelle? I know it real well. We used to have one or two local tournaments up there a year. Most of the time it was May or June when I fished, or even September and October.
I fished a lot tournaments and I've done real well, but I've never won a tournament on Dardanelle. I've finished every place but first.
Tough as last year? No, definitely not. The river wouldn't be that tough this year either. They had a tournament down there Saturday that took 22 pounds to win. There's a lot of color and a lot of current in the water.
Last year was just a real unusual year where we didn't have any color or current in the water. It was like that for two or three months and the bait fish moved out in the river and suspended, and the bass followed them. That was really unusual and I've never seen them like that before.
Reaction to the move? I can probably sum it up with one word: disappointment. For me, simply because I know a lot more about the Little Rock pool than I do Dardanelle. I know where to go and what to look for and where to find them regardless the time of year, and I don't have that advantage at Dardanelle.
Help or hurt local advantage? Most definitely hurt. You've got guys like Brian Snowden, who has fished some pro-am tournaments and even won a tournament on Dardanelle. Mark Tucker has the same type of experience in pro-am tournaments. Of course Randy Howell and Davy Hite have both won Elite-50 tournaments there.
I mean everybody has experience on Dardanelle. It will definitely make it tougher to win.
Is there a plan in place? No, I try not to get any preconceived notions about where or how I am going to catch them. I am just going to go up there and pre-fish and try to figure them out.
Knowledge of Dardanelle? I had a good college education right by that lake (Arkansas Tech University), so I'd say I know it pretty well — about as well as anybody who's going to be fishing this tournament.
Tough as last year? I don't think so. Not at all. I think it will take quite a bit more weight.
Reaction to the move? I thought it was premature. I was disappointed because I had been studying like a local should when he knows a tournament is coming to his area, and that doesn't mean anything now.
If I had known that if there was even an opportunity to be in Dardanelle I would have done my homework there. I had a bad showing on the river last year and I wanted to prove myself out there this year.
Help or hurt local advantage? I think it will hurt a little bit because I felt like I had done my homework. Even though I have spent a lot of time on Dardanelle, we could have had the river at its best.
Is there a plan in place? I have dug out all my old maps from college, some that are 10 or 15 years old. I know what the fish are going to do this time of year and where they are going to be, now it's just a matter of whether I can catch them or not.
Knowledge of Dardanelle? I used to fish down there quite a bit in the mid-to-late 90s. I would fish quite a few pro-ams and some of the regional tournaments down there. It was a once or twice a year stop for us.
Tough as last year? Absolutely not. Even though Dardanelle isn't quite as same as the Arkansas River, there is still going to be a lot of flow. And this time of year with that kind of flow on the river, it should make fishing pretty good.
Reaction to the move? You know, I was somewhat disappointed because most of my experience on Dardanelle, as far as tournaments that I have done well in, has always been in the Illinois Bayou where the six-hole course is. There's two ways to looking at that, I guess. As long as I can go out and figure out a way to get to the six-hole course, I feel real good about my chances.
That Arkansas River would have been a tremendous tournament because with the current flow that we have there, it was going to push all of the fish to the bank and everybody would have caught them great.
Help or hurt local advantage? As long as I can make the six-hole course, it is actually going to be helpful to me to be on Dardanelle instead of the Arkansas River.
Is there a plan in place? I've been thinking about it quite a bit and I've got a pretty good mindset on how I am going to approach it. I'm definitely going to spend some time on the river trying to fish some of the current and the main breaks, and beyond that, there are still some good back waters on Dardanelle that I will spend some time in as well.
Last year, the backwater pools actually ended up being a little more productive than the main river itself, so you have to at least look at some of the options back there.