Davis Would Go Deep at Dardanelle

Friday, August 30, 2019

The Big Bass Tour was supposed to descend on Lake Dardanelle on the first weekend in June, but unusually high water made that a non-starter, and now the tour is headed back on September 21st and 22nd for an early fall slugfest. That’ll provide a brand new playing field for one of our circuit’s most popular events, since our anglers have learned to look forward to the post-spawn period as prime time for big bass. Those big bass are still there, said veteran Arkansas pro Mark Davis, but the different time of year and this year’s weather patterns will impact the best approach.

“I would fish offshore structure, without a doubt, he said. “With all of the flooding, it pretty much wiped out all of the pads. There’s some grass in places, and that might hold some quality fish, but to consistently catch bigger fish I’d look deep. For Dardanelle, that means 6 to 12 feet, maybe 15 feet at the deepest.”

He’d focus on humps, creek channel bends, and especially structure with rock on top. He also stressed that man-made brushpiles will be key. Much of the best places are in the backwaters, but no particular section is better than another. Big fish could come from Illinois Bayou, Delaware Bay, Dardanelle Bay, Piney Bay or Shoal Bay. Key tools include a big jig, a big worm and the lure that was essential to building his Hall of Fame career, a deep-diving crankbait.

While the backwaters will play a key role, Davis wouldn’t rule out the main river completely. He’d spend some time plying main river sand bars, especially if they had isolated cover on top of them, like washed-up logs. If he found that in clear water, he’d try a big topwater, like a Strike King Sexy Dawg, and in dirtier conditions he’d probably start with a square bill, spinnerbait, Chatterbait or jig. In all water clarities, he wouldn’t leave until he’d probed every nook and cranny of that cover with a big worm.

While he expects most of the pads to be gone, areas that still hold a few might be prime set-ups for big loner fish.

Davis is a master structure fisherman, able to eke out every last bite from an offshore hotspot, but unless he had a lot of confidence in a particular stretch, he’d turn this into a “run and gun” affair, hitting as much juice as possible. “There are definitely places there where the fish come and go throughout the day,” he said. “On some of those places you can camp out and keep catching fish, but I’m pretty sure if I was fishing I’d be on the move.”

Even with the change of season, you can still expect it to take a big bite to get paid at this event. During last year’s June Big Bass Tour tournament there were four fish over 6 pounds weighed in, and the number of fours and fives was staggering. They live here and they grow big in a hurry.