The Big Bass Bonanza is the largest fishing tournament in the state of Arkansas. The tournament started Friday (June 27) and will last until Sunday (June 29). The competition starts at 6 a.m. on all three days, with the first hourly weigh – in at 8 a.m. There are weigh – ins at the top of each hour unitl the final at 1 p.m.
This tournament started in the year 1989 and it has been an annual event ever since. Anglers from all over the country come to Arkansas to compete.
” There’s people that are from Georgia, Michigan, a lot of Oklahoma people will come in, also from Missouri and Texas,” said Keith Millsap who is a volunteer for the Big Bass Bonanza.
Around three to four thousand people participate in the amature tournament each year.
“Your out there looking for one big fish that you think will win you some money hourly you take it to weigh it in and most the time they pay up to three places for the biggest bass of the hour,” said fisherman Sam Horn.
In the tournament, there are five different pools that expand across the Arkansas River. Fishermen can choose which pool to fish in during the three – day event. However, all fish must be weighed in the pool which they were caught. These pools start at the Garrison bridge in Fort Smith and go all the way down to where the Arkansas River empties into the Mississippi River.
Fishermen can have two people in a boat, however, each of you are catching your own fish. “Fisherman can have two fish in their possession and they can weigh one fish an hour,” according to Millsap.
Each hour they give away a cash prize to the person with the biggest catch in each of the five pools. Then at the end of the tournament, the angler who catches the biggest bass in each pool takes home $10,000.
After the weigh in, volunteers release the fish into the pool where it was caught.
Whoever catches the largest fish throughout the whole tournament, wins the cash prize of $50,000.