Grass has Arkansas River primed and ready for Okie Division anglers - Major League Fishing
Grass has Arkansas River primed and ready for Okie Division anglers
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Grass has Arkansas River primed and ready for Okie Division anglers

Image for Grass has Arkansas River primed and ready for Okie Division anglers
Word is, the Arkansas River is healthier than in years past. Photo by Jody White. Angler: Chris M Jones.
June 13, 2024 • Sean Ostruszka • Phoenix Bass Fishing League

All fisheries go through ups and downs. Well, the Arkansas River seems to be on the upswing. Will it show that off come the  Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine Okie Division tournament presented by Suzuki Marine on June 22? Hard to tell, as we may still be a year or two early, but the potential is there, as this is a fishery to watch in the next few years.

Tournament details

Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine Okie Division presented by Suzuki Marine

Arkansas River

Muskogee, Okla.

June 22

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About the fishery

One of the major tributaries of the Mississippi River, the Arkansas River has been dammed to form some pretty well-known fisheries like Fort Gibson, Eufaula, Tenkiller and Dardanelle (which is the only one of these in the state of Arkansas).

While that’s a nice geography lesson, the section near Three Forks Harbor in Muskogee, Oklahoma, is where the field will hang out. And it just so happens to be a section that is undergoing quite a positive transformation because of some random circumstances.

In 2019, a barge carrying liquid fertilizer crashed near this section, spilling its cargo load. While the initial spill killed more than 750,000 fish, it also did something else – cause the system’s vegetation to explode.

“There are sections that look like the upper Mississippi River with how much grass there is,” says local Chris Jones. “Now, the fish haven’t quite caught up with the grass yet, but they’re figuring it out. The river is as healthy as I’ve ever seen.”

What to expect

In theory, a lot of typical river and grass baits will work on the Arkansas River. Photo by Matt Brown.

Few things are more fickle than rivers. So, Jones says he’s always cautious about predicting a tournament on the Arkansas River. That said, one thing is obvious: He’s excited for this event and ones down the line.

“This place is set to explode,” Jones said. “Right now, we’re seeing more small fish than we’ve seen in years, and a lot of guys are griping about it and the grass. But in a couple years, when people start to figure out how to fish the grass and those little fish grow up, it’s going to really come on.”

Needless to say, anglers should come expecting to fish plenty of grass and to catch plenty of fish.  The only thing to watch is the weather.

“We’ve had so much rain this spring that there’s been nonstop current,” Jones said. “Most of the current is coming from Lake Eufaula, which is still a little high but also dirtier than normal. By the tournament, though, I’m worried they’ll have the lake back to normal and they’ll shut off the current. That would hurt a lot, but guys are still going to catch them.

“Just bring your power-fishing gear. Your squarebills, spinnerbaits, topwaters and flipping gear. Because that’s how you’ll get to that 16 pounds or more to win.”