Clinton Chandler of Lewisville was confident after Saturday’s action of the Arkansas Big Bass Bonanza that his 5.64-pound catch would remain the largest in the Pine Bluff pool for the tournament.
On Sunday, he felt a little nervousness.
“I was thinking somebody might beat it because it’s a possibility,” he said. “I was trying not to get my hopes up too much.”
No one caught a fish bigger than 5.25 pounds Sunday, meaning Chandler earned the $10,000 top prize for winning the pool. He plans to build a workshop with the prize.
“We’ve got some expensive boats and toys to lock up,” Chandler said.
But for at least the third year in a row, the tournament-winning came out of the Dumas/Pendleton pool. And for his 6.63-pounder on Friday, Jonathon Swink of DeValls Bluff pocketed the grand prize of $50,000.
Imagine his thought process during the last two days of the tournament.
“A lot of worrying,” he said. “That one fish was the only one I put across the stage.”
Swink, 28, fished all three days, but didn’t think the other catches were enough to earn him any more money. He made his winning catch at the Coal Pile area of the Arkansas River, 10 miles north of Dumas, with a pumpkinseed candy-colored jig with a pork chunk trailer.
With his paycheck, Swink will finish building a new roof on his house and “catch up on some bills.”
Chandler’s pool victory was pretty impressive considering he fished the water at Regional Park for the first time ever. This was the first Arkansas Big Bass Bonanza for the 63-year-old, whose victory was made official on his son Jason’s birthday.
“I was the one who got (Clinton) fishing,” Jason Chandler said, adding his father hadn’t fished for about three years.
Bart Moore and Shannon Pierce, both of Pine Bluff, tied for the second-largest catch in their home pool at 5.58 pounds. Moore won the tiebreaker because his catch was weighed first, taking the pool lead on Friday. Pierce matched that weight on Saturday, three hours after Chandler’s winning catch was weighed.
The second-, third- and fourth-place prizes for each pool are $900, $700 and $400. A total of $101,700 in hourly prizes were awarded in addition to the $100,000 guaranteed, but the exact amount for each hourly prize wasn’t immediately known.
There were more big winners in the Pine Bluff pool Sunday. Tim Gartman of Greenbrier won his fourth hourly prize of the tournament during the final weigh-in. With that particular win, he earned a $500 bonus from the Arkansas Hospitality Association in honor of late Pine Bluff and Stuttgart parks and recreation director Mike Drewett.
Clint Jones of Conway won two weigh-ins in Pine Bluff on Sunday. But his largest fish was just shy of the 4.56 by Scott resident Ryan Jordan that was the second-biggest of the day out of the pool.
All that earned Jordan, however, was the top hourly prize, but he went home knowing he cashed in on his first fish weighed in the tournament.
“I think that everybody’s fished the same water for three days has a lot to do with it,” Jordan said, asked about the lower weights Sunday. “It’s really the only decent fish I’ve caught all day … on my fifth cast (of the day).”