King climbs into driver's seat at Dardanelle Toyota Series - Major League Fishing

King climbs into driver’s seat at Dardanelle Toyota Series

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April 5, 2023 • Erik Gaffron • Toyota Series

RUSSELLVILLE, Ark.- A weather delay halted the start of Day 2 of the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Lake Dardanelle; and with another front moving through the area not long after takeoff, the anglers who adjusted to the myriad of changing conditions found themselves climbing the leaderboard on “moving day.”

Leader Zach King was the key climber today, moving into the lead from second place with 18 pounds, blasting ahead of the field with 36 pounds, 9 ounces with his second 18-pound bag in two days. King holds a 3-pound lead over his nearest pursuer Kirk Smith.

“I caught probably 30 keepers today, I caught a bunch,” King said. “I kind of figured them out this afternoon in my little spot. I’m looking at some fish – the big ones that I had today, I caught them off of beds. There were a few fish that I didn’t catch (that way), I just caught them fishing around.”

King’s keys to Day 2

King is fishing off the beaten path, working over a go-to area that he usually leans on this time of year at Dardanelle.

“I’m just fishing some backwater areas,” King said. “I’m fishing some main river stuff (also), but it’s (mostly) backwater stuff right off the river. I’m actually targeting dirtier water. The fish I saw on the beds were in clear water, but I’m not doing that tomorrow. I’m going to fish the dirty water.”

King’s day went smoother than most, but with the changing conditions he had to adjust throughout the day to catch his fish. He caught most of his fish on a YUM Dinger, a Booyah Swim Jig, and a War Eagle spinnerbait. The Dinger did all of King’s work on Day 1 and accounted for his pair of sight fish on Day 2. When the storms rolled through midmorning, though, King put in time with the spinnerbait before switching over to the swim jig as the sun came out into the afternoon.

As for the final day, King knows he’ll have to continue to adjust in order to keep up with the changing conditions.

“It’s going to be cold in the morning, but you just never know what’s going to happen,” he said. “(Fish) will still be up shallow, but it’s just a matter of getting them to bite. I think as the day goes on tomorrow, they’e going to bite.”

King’s years of experience on Dardanelle are putting him in a position to claim his first MLF victory after amassing 21 Top 10s in his career. He knows that his area has the fish to get the job done and is locked in heading into the final day.

“I think if I can catch 14 pounds tomorrow, we’ll be all right,” he said. “I feel confident, I think I can do it.”

Smith works his way into second place

Smith finds himself in a familiar position – in contention – heading into the final day. He’s a three-time MLF winner looking to claim his fourth victory. With a 3-pound deficit to overcome, Smith knows he’s going to need a massive bag to catch the Day 2 leader.

“I feel nervous, I’ve got the Dardanelle ‘king’ in front of me, Zach King,” said Smith, laughing.

After waiting out the morning delay, Smith arrived at his starting area only to have to hunker down and wait out the second storm front that blew in shortly after his arrival. Even still, Smith was able to boat all of his fish before 11 a.m.

“I had my entire weight by 10:45 and then I let up,” Smith said. “I was still looking for one more big bite to get up to that 17- to 18-pound range. It didn’t happen, so I’m a little nervous about that. I caught several other keepers but just couldn’t cull up. With three days of changing conditions, I’m not sure it’ll hold up.”

Smith has not been able to sight fish because of the dirty water in his primary area; but he knows the fish he’s targeting are on beds and has to methodically work them into biting.

“When you get them to bite (once), you just pole down and keep firing on them until they eat it,” he said.

Top 10 Pros

1. Zach King – 36-9 (10)
2. Kirk Smith – 33-9 (10)
3. Matt Baker – 33-1 (10)
4. Cole Breeden – 32-14 (10)
5. Teddy Bogard – 30-10 (10)
6. Keith Combs – 30-4 (10)
7. Tommy Loving – 29-12 (10)
8. Jeff Reynolds – 29-11 (10)
9. Jeffrey Lugar – 29-6 (10)
10. Todd Castledine – 29-6 (10)


Chavers holds Strike King co-angler lead

Robert Chavers sits atop the leaderboard for the Strike King co-angler division after a two-day total of 28-6. Like everyone else who caught them on Day 2, making an adjustment was the key to his success.

“We took Day 1 and scrapped it,” Chavers said. “We ran up the river and I got lucky and got five bites on a fluke over some grass. I mean that’s basically it from today. With our little ‘Arkansas hurricane’ we had this morning and the hour delay, everything down (by the dam) got blown out, so we ran upriver.”

Chavers is cautiously optimistic, knowing that Championship Thursday brings yet another opportunity for someone to smash a big bag. He feels that with the stabilizing conditions, he has a shot to get the victory; but knows that it’s still wide open for his division.

“It’s anybody’s game tomorrow,” Chavers said. “If you look at the co-angler weights yesterday, I didn’t think there would be that many bags that close together. It goes to show you they can catch them. Everybody here can catch them.”