Conway’s Scherrey moves into Big Bass lead

Steve Scherrey of Conway is trying to keep up a winning tradition for the Dumas/Pendleton pool of the Arkansas Big Bass Bonanza.

Scherrey’s 6.98-pound catch at the 8 a.m. Saturday weigh-in moved him into the lead for the $50,000 grand prize, awarded to the angler with the biggest fish in the entire tournament. If his catch stands through today’s action, it will be at least the fourth straight year the winning catch has come from that portion of the Arkansas River.

“I’ve fished every year since 2000, and I haven’t won any money since then,” said Scherrey, who won the first-place hourly prize as well expected to be worth $500, in a tournament press release. “I fish with my buddy, and we’ve weighed in fish, but they’ve gotten bounced out by bigger fish. Today we just decided to fish like we do in Conway. We threw some worms and found some lily pads. We saw a big fish in the area earlier. About the fifth cast, I caught it.”

Sunday marks the last of the three-day tournament, which is the 26th annual. Anglers in the Fort Smith, Dardanelle, North Little Rock and Pine Bluff pools will have from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. to try to unseat Scherrey atop the grand prize leaderboard or top the pool leaderboard for $10,000 if they don’t win the $50,000.

Montine McNulty of the Arkansas Hospitality Association, which sponsors the event, said an 8-pounder was caught last week at at tournament in Pine Bluff. There hasn’t been a grand-prize fish of 7 pounds or more in the Bonanza since 2009, and the last winning 8-pounder was caught in 2008.

William Fitzgerald of Greenbrier, the previous overall leader, still leads the Dardanelle pool with a 6.87-pound catch from Friday, and David May of Little Rock leads in his home territory at 6.85. Jason Hamilton of Star City took the Pine Bluff lead Saturday at 5.63, while Karry Dedmon of Huntington holds on to the lead in nearby Fort Smith at 5.69.

“If we win, we win,” Scherrey said. “If not, it’s still exciting. This tournament is so good for the average angler.”

Also Saturday in the Dumas/Pendleton pool, Lee Broach caught back-to-back hourly-prize fish of 5.31 and 5.17 pounds.

Second-place anglers in each pool will receive $900, third-placers will earn $700 and fourth-placers will be paid $400 in addition to other prize money won.