King earns his crown at Lake Dardanelle - Major League Fishing

King earns his crown at Lake Dardanelle

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Three days of 18-pound bags added up to a Lake Dardanelle win for local angler Zach King. Photo by Matt Brown. Angler: Zach King.
April 6, 2023 • Erik Gaffron • Toyota Series

RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. – At long last, Zach King finally has his crown.

After numerous Top-10 finishes with MLF and a reported four times being the bridesmaid on his home lake, King was able to bring his third consecutive 18-pound bag to the scales and claim the top prize of $40,000 at the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Lake Dardanelle. King amassed 55 pounds, 3 ounces over three days and outlasted hard-charging Todd Castledine and Erick Hurst who busted massive bags on the Final Day.

“Finally!” King exclaimed. “I’m excited. I mean I’ve been fishing this lake my whole life. This is the biggest tournament I’ve won out here, and it feels good because my co-angler (Robert Chavers) actually won, too. It was first and first out of my boat.”

King’s winning areas were shallow, backwater, shoots, and drains in the Spadra Creek region of the lake. Most of his best spots were sneakily difficult for anglers to run into, making King’s decades of local knowledge even more valuable for accessing his area.

“It’s no secret, everybody knows I ran up to Spadra,” he said. “I was in the area to win. I knew I would be, especially if it warmed up. It did, I mean today was a little cooler, but they stuck around in there. So, we got to hammer on some.”

While the location was absolutely essential for King, it was a matter of adjusting to varied weather conditions on all three days that made the biggest difference to his victory. He ran from spot to spot within Spadra Creek to target the ‘right fish’ that he had located on the first two days of competition, opting to save fish for the final Day to give himself the best odds to pull away with the win.

“I knew where some big ones were,” he said. “So, I didn’t target one little area and fish the heck out of it. I bounced around from hole to hole. Pull in one hole, catch a big one, then another hole, and catch a big one.”

King’s main weapon of choice for his bedding fish was a YUM Dinger, Texas rigged and weightless, to coax up finicky biters even after the Final Day got cold and challenging for many. While some of his fish were caught sight fishing each day, King also did a lot of his catching on Day 2 with a War Eagle spinnerbait. A Booyah Swim Jig also played an essential role, as he used both to cover water between stops on bedding fish.

King’s victory solidifies his local legacy, as many anglers felt he was untouchable heading into the final day, knowing full well that his area was one of the best in the lake if they could only get to it. 

His dinal day pairing and longtime fishing buddy, Chavers, may have said it best: “He’s the ‘King of Dardanelle.’”

Now the “King of Dardanelle” finally holds his most coveted crown.

Top 10 Pros

  1. Zach King – 55 – 3 (15)
  2. Todd Castledine – 49 – 6 (15)
  3. Erick Hurst – 49 – 6 (15)
  4. Kirk Smith – 47 – 15 (15)
  5. Dillon Harrell – 46 – 1 (15)
  6. Cole Breeden – 45 – 14 (15)
  7. Matt Baker – 44 – 5 (15)
  8. Keith Combs – 43 – 3 (15)
  9. Jeff Lugar – 41 – 13 (15)
  10. Steve Lopez – 40 – 12 (15)