An early look at Dardanelle

It’s been nice to have a couple of weeks off between tournaments. No matter how hard you try it’s almost impossible to really rest when you’re fishing one tournament after another. There’s always something that needs doing, something that demands your attention.

The highlight of my downtime was the CastingKids event at the Walmart in Rogers, Arkansas.

It’s always a pleasure to spend time with kids, especially when it involves fishing. In my mind, the activities we put on around the country are really important because they promote our sport and, at the same time, they help make a difference just by showing kids a good time. We need to do more of that.

And I learned something in the parking lot that day; Charlie Hartley makes riding a skateboard look easy. I’m here to tell you it isn’t, especially if you want to stay upright more than a few seconds.

Right now, though, it’s time to talk Dardanelle. This is a really good bass lake and this tournament’s going to be one we’ll all remember.

To begin with, the rain has been relentless. They have flash flood warnings up so I don’t have to tell you that the water’s high and it’s dirty.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it does present challenges. The rain’s supposed to stop by Thursday. Whether or not that means it’ll clear up during the tournament will depend on what they do with the dam. If they let water through, I’m thinking things will stay nasty. If they hold the water back, it’ll probably clear up somewhat.

What we’re seeing here is typical of impounded rivers, and Lake Dardanelle is an impoundment of the Arkansas River. They all can get nasty when heavy rains hit them. Dardanelle is 50 miles long, though, so I’m hoping that some of the water, somewhere, will clear a little bit.

The water’s hot, too. Most of it is around 75 degrees but I have found spots that were getting up towards 85 degrees. That’s pretty warm for this time of the year.

Overall, the fishing is similar to what we saw at Toledo Bend except that there aren’t any prespawn bass left here, or if there are I haven’t found them. The bite is really good, however.

You can catch fish all over the banks with about anything in your tacklebox — crankbaits, buzzbaits, frogs, plastics, jigs, you name it. But catching fish doesn’t mean they’ll be the winning fish. That’ll be the trick here. The winner will have to find a place and a lure that puts him on the right fish, those that are just a little bigger than the others.

In some ways, that’s what we always do but, this week, we’re going to have to step it up to the next level. That’s why I’m predicting that this will be a tournament where we’re going to have to fish extra hard, and be extra smart.


You can watch all of that unfold right here on

Chris Lane’s column appears weekly on You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook or visit his website,

Also By This Author