LITTLE ROCK (AGFC) – It has been described as Everyman's Bass Tournament. Better make that Every Person because women and kids are enthusiastic competitors in the Arkansas Big Bass Bonanza right along with the men.
The state's most popular fishing competition is coming up June 29 through July 1 on the Arkansas River – all of the Arkansas River in the state. Big Bass Bonanza is operated by the Arkansas Hospitality Association. Professional bass fishermen are not allowed to enter the tournament.
In its 23 years, beginning in 1989, there has not been a repeat overall winner in the Big Bass Bonanza.
Top prize is a guaranteed $50,000. The river is divided into five pools for the tournament, and winners of the other four pools are guaranteed $10,000 each.
Hourly first, second and third place winners in each of the five pools will receive money based on the number of entries in the tournament. There is an extra $100 for wearing Big Bass Bonanza caps and T-shirts at the weigh-in for each of the hourly first, second and third place anglers.
Anglers can choose to fish one, two, or all three days of the tournament. Entry fee to fish is $90 each day. Additional prizes awarded in various categories. One competition that always draws interest is the Willow Leaf Award, going to the parent-child combination or grandparent-grandchild, weighing in the largest bass for the tournament.
Fishermen can choose to fish any of the five pools and can fish different pools during the three-day event. However, all fish must be weighed in the pool in which they were caught. Eligible fish species include largemouth, smallmouth and spotted or Kentucky bass.
The tournament begins at 6 a.m. on all three days, with the first hourly weigh-in at 8 a.m. and subsequent weigh-ins at the top of each hour until the final 1 p.m. weigh-in. The five weigh-in sites are Clear Creek Park, Fort Smith; Dardanelle State Park, Russellville side; Alltel Ramp, North Little Rock; Regional Park, Pine Bluff; and Pendleton Bridge, east of Dumas.