RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. – Fall is here. The only problem is the fish just haven’t quite gotten the memo yet on Lake Dardanelle. As it seems to be the case with the previous conference championships over the past weeks, the bass are still reluctant to fully make their fall migration shallow. With that being said, anglers could face tough conditions this week at the National Guard FLW College Fishing Southern Conference Championship.
The big key to help push these bass shallow is a combination of cooler water temperatures and shorter days. The only thing that has been hindering this migration is mild evening temps and warm daytime temps. There will still be plenty of fish to be found, yet the bigger bites may be few and far between.
“The fish really haven’t moved up shallow yet; they are still pretty scattered,” said McGuire who has fished Dardanelle before. “We are going to be burning gas and covering water. When it’s all over today we are probably going to need to fill up both tanks tonight.”
“We are going to see every bit of this lake by the day’s end,” Holmes echoed with a smile.
“Normally it’s pretty easy to catch a limit out here, but the biggest thing is going to finding that big bite,” noted McGuire.
The general consensus seems to be that fish in the 2-pound range shouldn’t be that hard to come by. Though, it sounds like many fish over that size will take some effort to find.
With the possibility of a tough bite, it helps to have some knowledge of the lake and its habits. The team that takes home field advantage on Dardanelle would be Evan Barnes and Reagan Moore of Arkansas Tech.
Having their campus located just minutes from the lake, Moore and Barnes are able to fish several days a week on Dardanelle.
“It’s pretty tough right now,” said Barnes. “You can catch a lot of 12- to 13-inchers, but the thing is you might catch 20 fish, but only one keeper. I think that catching a good one – 4 to 5 pounds – will really help to separate you.
“We are just on some average fish, but we do have a pattern we will run,” Barnes continued. “There is some isolated grass and points we want to fish, we may fish some of them several times even. I think we have the keeper fish narrowed down. I’ll be happy with anything over 15 pounds for a total today. Finding that big bite will be crucial.”
Twenty FLW College Fishing Southern Conference teams will compete for two days with a top-five cut being made after the day-two weigh-in. The top-five teams, based on total accumulated weight, will advance to Saturday’s finals and the team with the heaviest three-day cumulative weight will be declared champion.
Anglers will take off from Lake Dardanelle State Park located at 100 State Park Drive in Russellville, Ark., at 7 a.m. each morning. Weigh-ins will be at Walmart located at 2409 E. Main St. in Russellville beginning at 4 p.m. each day. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.
Fans will be treated to the FLW Expo at Walmart on Thursday and Friday from 2-4 p.m. and Saturday from noon-4 p.m. prior to weigh-ins. The Expo includes Ranger boat simulators, interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors. Fans can also learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public.
Coverage of the Southern Conference Championship will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network when “FLW” airs Dec. 30 from 1-2 p.m. EST. “FLW” is hosted by Jason Harper and is broadcast to more than 559 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world.
Sunrise: 7:10 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 53 degrees
Expected high temperature: 84 degrees
Water Temperature: 75-76 degrees
Wind: Light and variable
Max. Humidity: 85 percent early, then 55 percent later
Day’s outlook: Clear and sunny