By Chan Davis
OF THE COMMERCIAL STAFF
To back up his 2007 win in the Pine Bluff pool of the Arkansas Big Bass Bonanza, Pine Bluff native Bart Moore had a simple solution to catching bigger fish.
“Fish with bigger bait,” Moore said. “It’s simple. Keep it in the water. You ain’t gonna catch ‘em if you ain’t fishin.”
Moore had his line in the water along with dozens of other boaters early Friday morning and it didn’t take long for the past champion to get action.
“I started out my first cast this morning and caught a 3.20,” Moore said. “And I hooked him deep. I brought him to the scales because he wouldn’t have made it to the next hour. He ended up living and I got bumped.”
The 3.20 would have been enough to displace White Hall’s Brett Rogers from third place in the 9 a.m. hour but failed to place in the morning’s first call as Damascus angler Kelly Glover headed the list at 5.19, which turned out to be big fish in the pool, to take the early lead with two days of fishing still on tap.
Moore said the bass were hitting at shallow depths, even with the water temperatures elevated due to outside temps hovering above 100 degrees.
“Every fish I caught was in 6-8 foot of water,” Moore said. “And the water temperature on my graph was showing 85 degrees. That’s hot. They are just going to where cover is. There’s just not much cover here.”
Moore did turn in a winning catch in the day’s final weigh-in with a 4.38.
“It was 12:30 and I was fishing right over there,” Moore said, pointing to an area just across the water from the weigh station. “There are three trees right off the drop and first cast I caught him. I live right down the bank on Riverside Drive. I kind of know the territory.”
Moore said the high temperatures didn’t seem to affect the appetite of the fish.
“I was throwing a 10-inch red-shad worm, the big culprit red-shad,” he said. “I caught every one of them on it. I threw a crank bait after it got hot but never got a bump. And it wasn’t no playing, they were eating. And everybody I talked to, it was the same story. They were hungry this morning.”
Pine Bluff weight master Richard Metcalf was pleased with the first morning of competition.
“The weights were good,” Metcalf said. “The fish were all healthy. They looked good. We didn’t see any sores or anything. They looked better than they have looked in years to me.”
Metcalf said the weights declined as the heat increased.
“You could see the weights start to drop in the middle of the day as the heat wears on them,” Metcalf said. “You can still get a big bass in the afternoon because bass will take cover under a log or something and isolate, but tend to bite a little better early in the morning this time of year.”
He added that the 5.19 perched atop the leaderboard was not expected to hold up through the event that concludes on Sunday at five different locations including near Dumas, Dardanelle, North Little Rock and Fort Smith.
“I would be real surprised if 5.19 held up in this group. I think there will be bigger fish. It usually takes around a 6-pounder out of this pool.
“Anything can happen,” he said. “There are some awful big bass out there. But I think 7-7 ½ pounds would be a good weight and it will probably come out of Dumas. They have more backwater and cover and is a really good fishery down there. But it could happen right here too.”
Arkansas Big Bass Bonanza
Day 1 of 3
Overall pool leaders (in order of weight)
Dardanelle — Gary Hensley, 5.94
Dumas — Les Irons, 5.93 pounds
Fort Smith — Craig Flowers, 5.22
Pine Bluff — Kelly Glover, 5.19
North Little Rock — Brett LeQuieu, 4.51
• Overall leader at end of tournament wins $50,000. Other pool winners each win $10,000.
Friday’s hourly weigh-in results
At Pine Bluff Harbor, Regional Park
8 a.m. — Kelly Glover 5.19, Kevin Beatty 5.05, Kenny Baugh 4.09
9 a.m. — Kenny Baugh 4.97, Clay Davenport 4.90, Brett Rogers 3.08
10 a.m. — Louis Walls 5.05, Larry Keen 5.03, Raymond Martin 4.15
11 a.m. — Teddy Bogart 4.49, Mike Hinojosa 4.47, Tim Law 4.29
Noon — Tim Law 4.34, Mike Hinojosa 4.09, Sam Smothers 4.06
1 p.m. — Bart Moore 4.38, Joe Spadoni III 3.82, Jerry Harris 3.70
At Pendleton Bridge, near Dumas
8 a.m. — Megan Posey 4.59, Michael Lambert 4.14, Jamey Black 3.81
9 a.m. — Kerry Weaver Sr. 4.64, James Mills III 4.10, Jonathan Richard 4.10
10 a.m. — Josh Thompson 4.63, Jamey Hurley 3.74, Robert Bland 3.69
11 a.m. — Joel Newman 5.83, Drew Dawson 5.03, Eddy Lendey 4.23
Noon — Les Irons 5.93, Joey Hurley 4.21, Nicholas Warden 4.09
1 p.m. — David Thornton 4.62, Bob Dawson 3.90, Dejuan Webb 3.71
• Other weigh-in sites: Clear Creek Park, Fort Smith; Dardanelle State Park, Russellville side; North Little Rock Marina & Boat Dock