Amateur fishermen from across the country can be found along the Arkansas River this weekend (June 28-30) for the Big Bass Bonanza, the largest bass fishing tournament in the country. Each hoping to reel in the biggest bass worth $50,000.
"It is truly just for the amateurs and for the weekend fishermen to come out and have their chance at some big money," said Keith Millsap, a weigh master at Clear Creek Park in Alma.
The angler with the over-all biggest bass gets 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.
The five weigh-in sites are Clear Creek Park in Alma, Dardanelle State Park at Russellville, Alltel Ramp at North Little Rock, Regional Park at Pine Bluff and Pendleton Bridge east of Dumas. Millsap said local fishermen may have the advantage in their home pool.
"There's a lot of fishermen that live in this area that know these waters really well, and they like to fish this pool," said Millsap.
Millsap said the bass in the Dardanelle and Dumas pools tend to be larger than those in the other areas. He thinks most of the fishermen at Clear Creek are aiming for the $10,000 prize rather than trying to catch the $50,000 fish.
"I mean, he's out there, but he's tough to find," said Millsap.
Prizes were also awarded each hour to the three largest bass. Richard Stockton brought in the largest bass during the 11 o'clock hour weighing in at 4.09 pounds. Stockton said if he won the top prize, he'd buy himself a boat.
Ricky Scott watched his daughter, Breeanna, catch her biggest fish yet during the tournament.
"I think it weighed 3.6, the one she caught this morning," said Scott who often lets Breeanna reel in the fish he catches. "She may have reeled one in bigger, but that one she caught all by herself."
Millsap said anglers travel to Arkansas from all over the country for this tournament including New York, California, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma. A total of $188,850 in prize money was awarded with 21 states represented in 2012.