Bassmaster Elite Series Trokar Quest Tournament
Welcome Bassmaster Elite Series Trokar Quest Tournament! Hosting the event are Sister Creek Resort, the Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock, Gaston's White River Resort, the Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce, State Representative and Executive Director of Ozark Mountain Region, Kelley Linck and the State of Arkansas.
Bull Shoals Lake: A Incredible Fishery for Bassmaster Elite Anglers, Amateurs or Families By Jill M. Rohrbach, travel writer - Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism
Apr 30, 2012
Bull Shoals Lake is an incredible fishery – just ask a pro, especially those at the recent Bassmaster Elite Series TroKar Quest held April 19-22 on this 60,000-acre impoundment.
“Most definitely this is one of the best lakes I’ve fished in a long time,” said Bassmaster Pro Gerald Swindle. “If you’ve got children and you want to spend some time fishing, I would definitely look at Bull Shoals. You can put a line in and catch fish anywhere. It’s like Christmas.” He added that his wife now wants to visit Bull Shoals to fish.
Swindle placed 41st in the tournament and was a commentator for the event, which will air on April 29 from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. ET on ESPN2 and from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. ET on ESPN Classic.
Aerial view of the Bull Shoals White River State Park www.bassmaster.com
With a four-day total of 78 pounds, 6 ounces, Brandon Palaniuk, 24, won the TroKar Quest and $100,000. Comprised of 100 of the most talented anglers in bass fishing, the field of competitors has won more than 200 Bassmaster tournaments, 17 Bassmaster Classic championships and 21 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year titles.
The Elite field - especially anglers such as four-time Classic champ Rick Clunn of Missouri, perennial qualifier Kevin VanDam of Michigan, and several popular Arkansas favorites like Mark Davis of Mount Ida, and Scott Rook of Little Rock - drew the public to attend the daily weigh-in events.
Nearly all of the anglers remarked on the fantastic fishery that Bull Shoals Lake offers as well as the great support and turnout for the event from the community. Many also expressed a desire to return to Bull Shoals Lake. The tournament was based at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock and Bull Shoal-White River State Park.
Palaniuk was able to land some big fish to make the difference in his win. Every angler was catching a lot of fish and weeded through the keepers to gain ounces. Most were cranking bluff walls and transitions.
Brandon Palaniuk with two of his best www.bassmaster.com
“This is a phenomenal fishery. I probably had 150 keepers over the last three days,” said Jason Quinn. Compared to other waters, Quinn said it ranks up there because “you can just go out there and catch ‘em.”
Palaniuk fished tight angles on small brush and rock piles in open water. On day three he hooked himself in his left pinky finger when he was reaching down for a catch and it shook. “It was a KVD treble and went all the way to the bone,” Palaniuk explained. “I took 20 minutes to try to push it out but it wasn’t doing.”
He had to head to the Mountain Home emergency room. He was in and out in one and a half hours, then back on the water fishing.
Derek Remitz, who landed in 9th place with 60 pounds, 13 ounces said, “This is like a diamond in the rough.” He caught most of his fish on crankbait. They were biting about everything he threw in, type and color. “Throw it in, wind it in, and run a pattern,” he said.
Finishing in 6th place with 63 pounds, 1 ounce, Cliff Pace said, “This place is unbelievable how many fish you catch. My hands hurt so bad yesterday I could barely get fish out of my live well.”He nodded off the ubiquitous holding up of his fish at final weigh-in because he said he’d be lucky if he could even open a pickle jar later.
Edwin Evers weighed in with a solid 66 pounds for 4th place, and said he fished 45 degree banks.
“I’ve been here seven days and I saw 21 more spots today that I’d like to fish.” He told Bassmasters, “I’d come back anytime you guys want to come back.”
Brent Chapman, 6th place with 64 pounds, 7 ounces, agreed and remarked on the amazing Sunday crowd for the final tournament weigh-in. He said he used an old-school wiggle wart and “something that hasn’t caught on here yet, a top shelf swimbait. That’s what I caught all my big fish on.”
Keith Poche, who ended in 12th place with 58 pounds, 3 ounces, said he “didn’t think this fishery would do these kinds of numbers but it did.” Mark Menendez, 11th place with 59.5, added, “It is a beautiful place, a fantastic place to fish.” He said Bull Shoals Lake will be “off the hook in another year or two.”
Arkansan Scott Rook, 8th place with 61.8, worked a square-billed crankbait. “I caught 20 pounds a day in practice,” he said. “I’ve caught more fish this week than in a long time. Bull Shoals is alive and well.”
Russ Lane's 6 lb Lg Mouth 4/22/12 photo by Tom Marler, Marshall
In addition to fishing, Bull Shoals Lake offers recreation activities in boating, skiing, swimming, camping, picnicking and scuba diving. Facilities are located in 19 parks operated by the Corps of Engineers, Arkansas State Parks, local governments and a marina. These parks include 18 boat ramps, 11 campgrounds, 13 picnic shelters, 11 marinas, 7 designated swim areas, and hundreds of miles of undeveloped shoreline. For more information, visit www.Arkansas.com.
For more details on the TRokar Quest Elite Series event, visit www.Bassmaster.com or see the timeline blogs and videos below:
BULL SHOALS by Frank Willis— For the second time in a week, professional and amateur anglers have piled into the Twin Lakes Area for the fishing.
Today, the action is on Bull Shoals Lake. Top anglers in the Bassmaster Elite national fishing tournament series will fish a second day of the four-day TroKar Quest Tournament.
A field of 99 anglers will be thinned today to a field of 50 for fishing Saturday and Sunday.
A prize of $100,000 awaits the winner.
The staging area for the weigh-in is Bull Shoals-White River State Park in Bull Shoals. Attendance at the weigh-in set for 3:15 p.m. today is free.
It’s the fishing
The event kicked off Thursday morning with a pre-dawn singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Bassmaster officials released anglers one-by-one.
Past the no-wake zone, anglers stepped into builder-sponsored high-performance boats hitting speeds of 70 miles per hour en route to places were fish were found in pre-tourney practice fishing.
Just minutes into the day, angler Mike Iaconelli of Pitts Grove, N.J., cast along a rocky bank and landed two fish in the space of five minutes.
“The fishing is really good,” Iaconelli, who fished to Bassmaster’s No. 19 ranking at the end of the 2011 tournament year, said.
“It’s almost impossible not to get a bite anywhere you go.”
Greg Vinson of Wetumpka, Ala., Bassmaster’s 14th-ranked angler, caught three keepers in 10 minutes of fishing.
A few moments later, Iaconelli spotted something near some brush.
He threw a hard bait to the spot and a big bass grabbed it.
"I really love this," he said.
The Bassmaster event comes on the heels of the 25th annual BassCat Boat Owners Invitational Tournament on Norfork Lake that filled resorts and hotels in and around Mountain Home last week. The Bull Shoals event, featuring Bassmaster’s top-ranked professional anglers, comes with fans who follow the tour.
“It’s just like NASCAR,” said Robert E. Richardson, Secretary on the Board of Directors of the Bull Shoals Lake-White River Chamber of Commerce. “Fans follow their favorite anglers from event to event.”
Richardson and his wife, Patricia, own and operate Rocky Hollow Resort near Bull Shoals.
“We’re packed and business is good all over this weekend,” Richardson said.
Likewise, resorts on the White River near Bull Shoals were full Thursday.
Richardson said events like the Bassmaster tournament stop triggers a call-forwarding plan among BSLWR Chamber accommodations members. As one member’s facility fills up with guests, calls for additional accommodations are forwarded to members who still have vacancies.
“Almost everyone has asked to be taken off the call list,” Richardson said.
Requests for accommodations for Bassmaster fans also spread to Mountain Home facilities. Two major hoteliers contacted by The Bulletin on Thursday reported “dozens” of guests checked in to see the Bassmaster weigh-in show.
Ron Branaman, manager of Gaston’s White River Resort, packed Thursday with Bassmaster support crews and sports writers, said excellent advance fishing on Bull Shoals and competitive fishing Thursday was the talk of Bull Shoals.
“From everything we’re hearing, they’re catching fish like crazy,” Branaman said. “The weather has been perfect.”
Tournament insider Angie Thompson, vice president of Bassmaster Development, told The Bulletin the catch was fast Thursday. Bull Shoals fish and the people of the Twin Lakes Area have extended “unmatched hospitality,” she said.
“Bull Shoals is a little different, but the hospitality and welcome we have received from the public has been wonderful,” she said. “I think Bassmaster will probably be stopping here again.”
The Twin Lakes Area has at least one major fan within the Bassmaster organization — Jerry McKinnis of Flippin — a corporate sponsor of Bassmaster.
Kelly Linck, executive director of the Ozark Mountain Regional Tourism Inc., said planning for the Bassmaster tournament began two years ago. Linck, who is also a state legislator, said Thursday he “grudgingly” missed the first day of the tournament because of meetings of a taxation committee in Little Rock.
“You would think after working on this for two years, I’d get to be there for the first day,” Linck said. “But, I’m here, and this is important work.”
The Bassmaster tour last visited the area for a tournament on Bull Shoals in 1991.
Elite Series angler Kevin Short believes Bull Shoals Lake is the best in the White River chain. He will take on the fishery in the upcoming TroKar quest.
Bull Shoals, something of a sleeper lake for several years, will be getting a wake-up call April 19-22 in the Bassmaster Elite Series Trokar Quest Tournament, the first time the Bassmaster Elite Series has stopped at the Arkansas-Missouri border fishery.
"The last lake in the White River chain, Bull Shoals is, in my opinion, the best lake in the chain, and it’s received the least amount of pressure," said Kevin Short, one of the 99 Bassmaster Elite Series pros in the event.
One reason for such an unpressured bass fishery, Short said, can be traced to consecutive years of high water. Bass were able to wiggle deep into flooded shoreline trees, some submerged in an extra 30 feet of water. Fishing that "flooded forest" was so frustrating, many an angler quickly gave up wrestling with the lure-eating tree limbs.
The spawns proceeded, and year classes of bass - largemouth, smallmouth and spotted - flourished.
The 2012 Elite field should see levels as close to normal as they’ve been for some time, Short said. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which regulates the lake, has been steadily drawing water through the system in anticipation of heavy spring rainfall toward the end of the month.
"People pull up to the shoreline, see the old waterline, and think the lake’s low. It’s not. It’s actually going to be at normal pool level, or maybe a little bit above, when we get there," he said.
From Mayflower, Ark., Short knows White River impoundments. The most recent proof of that is his 2011 win in a Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open on Table Rock Lake. But success on a Bull Shoals’ sister lake doesn’t make him a shoo-in for the TroKar Quest, Short said. While the lakes are similar - rock-clay-gravel bottom unshaded by vegetation - subtle differences change the game. And his victory was in October.
This time out, Short expects spawning bass to play a role. But unlike in past Aprils, the spawn cycle is on the downhill side because of the warm winter, he noted.
The sheer size of Bull Shoals will tend to spread the field out. The lake is about 45,500 surface acres, has close to 1,000 miles of shoreline (at higher water levels), and scores of seemingly untouched coves. The lake is uncharted competition water for many in the field: it’s been almost 21 years since B.A.S.S. last brought an Elite-caliber tournament to Bull Shoals.
That was in 1991. Now-Elite pro Mark Davis of Mount Ida, Ark., was there, and finished fifth. Although he hasn’t competed on Bull Shoals since, he has visited the lake often "just for fun," he said.
"The lake went through a period of time when the fishing wasn’t very good, but in recent years has come back," Davis said. "Now there’s a good population of all three species - largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass. We’ll have mixed bags."
The lake has successfully fought off a bout of largemouth bass virus that affected the fish about 10 years ago, he noted, and the bass are now healthy and numerous.
"We’ll see a lot of 2-, 2 1/2-pound fish," he said. "To win, you’ll need 3 1/2-pound bass on average, and a 2 1/2-pound average to get a check. Anything less isn’t going to win you any money. That’s about normal for a mountain lake."
In an Elite event, each pro can bring in five fish a day, so Davis’ winning-weight estimate shakes out to about 60 to 70 pounds over the event’s four days.
Davis said he’s looking forward to competing on such a huge fishery.
"There’s not a creek, not a pocket, that does not contain fish. It will be a real pleasure to fish," he said.
First prize in the TroKar Quest is $100,000 and a berth in the 2013 Bassmaster Classic. The third of eight regular-season Elite events, the tournament gives pros another opportunity to earn points that count toward post-season and Classic qualifications. Pros also amass points that count in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race.
Daily weigh-ins at 3:15 p.m. CT will be at Bull Shoals White River State Park (on the east side of the dam), 153 Dam Overlook Lane, Bull Shoals, AR 72619. Fans are invited to arrive early and enjoy the TroKar Quest Family Fest at the park. All Bassmaster activities are free and open to the public.
For fans watching online, the Bassmaster website will provide extensive coverage. When the anglers are on the water, fans can follow along via BASSCam video and BASSTrakk reports from the water, blogs, and the new War Room feature. During the weigh-ins, live video and real-time leaderboards will relay the action. Photo galleries, stories and standings will be posted daily.
The Bassmasters on ESPN2 will feature the TroKar Quest on April 29 at 8 a.m. ET.
Del Colvin, courtesy Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock
2012 Bassmaster Elite Series Official Sponsors: Toyota, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Evan Williams Bourbon, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Yamaha
2012 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsor: BOOYAH, Carhartt, Lowrance, Luck "E" Strike, Power-Pole, Ramada
2012 Bassmaster Elite Series Proud Partner: Mustang Survival
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Elite Series pros hit Bull Shoals this weekend for the Trokar Quest event there, and will be facing a much different lake than the two Florida waters they most recently fished. BassGold is a huge resource in such circumstances, though it also offers a lot for folks who just fish locally.
Former B.A.S.S. pro Ken Cook and I took a brief look at what the historical pattern information in BassGold indicates the winning patterns and weights will be next week. Note that because BassGold has nearly 20 years of patterns (exclusive data) from the highly regarded Central Pro-Am circuit, the information on Bull Shoals is particularly good.
Bank-beaters should have a ball because the "Macro Factors" graph (generally where on a lake to fish) shows that "Shoreline" accounts for 51 percent of top five finishes on the lake in the April-May timeframe. That makes sense: In April and May, bass in deep, clear upland reservoirs generally head to the bank.
Ken: "I\\\'m a little surprised coves and pockets [10 percent of high finishes] aren\\\'t better-indicated, but this is late spawn time and the majority of the spawners have probably moved out of the back of the coves and are located around secondary points and small shoreline cuts."
At this writing, the lake level is up a bit, which should make bank patterns even more important. And that of course means "Wood," a term in BassGold that in the case of this tournament means mostly bushes.
That\\\'s no secret to anyone who knows the lake. As Ken noted, "It\\\'s a good thing there\\\'s lots of shoreline for anglers to work with because everyone will be looking for the same things."
BassGold shows that "Spawning Beds" are the second-most-effective Habitat Factor, with "Ledge/Drop," "Gravel/Clay" and "Rock" following in that order.
Two important things to note:
1.A lot of the value in BassGold is how you interpret what it\\\'s telling you, same as any fishing tool. You\\\'ll get different things out of it depending on your fishing experience and knowledge.
2.You can mine some great info from the detailed pattern summaries. To use a recent example, high finishers at the recent EverStart Series tournament on Bull Shoals fished dirtier water ? but not with faster-moving baits, like you\\\'d expect. And one keyed on bushes with bigger bases.
Shoreline, bushes, you know what\\\'s next: flipping and pitching. Sure enough, the "Lures/Baits" graph in this April-May "Pattern Report" for Bull Shoals shows that typical flip/pitch baits are best ? sort of.
Half to two-thirds of first through fifth patterns incorporated slower-presentation baits like jigs and soft-plastics. But here\\\'s where the ability to manipulate the "Pattern Report" graphs is so valuable. Take a look below at the differences between what winners (yellow bars) and second-fifth finishers (orange bars) used.
So if you\\\'re fishing this tournament to win it, looks like you should have a jig in your hand.
Though Ken feels that spinnerbaits and squarebill crankbaits could be factors in stained water, he predicts that "the winner will target flooded bushes in main lake pockets and the shoreline with jigs and small crawdad-imitating plastics."
He noted that the topwater bite that develops later in the month on Bull Shoals could be an effective locating technique now.
The BassGold Pattern Report for April-May shows that winning and placing (second-fifth) weights average in the mid-teens per day. That means a shade less than 15 pounds on the low side and 17 pounds or a little higher on the high side.
BassGold.com, a B.A.S.S. partner, is the world\\\'s best bass patterning tool. It has taken 45 years of tournament patterns, now over 3,500 and counting, and turned them into data you can search and sift, resulting in pattern "gold" never seen before. As a Bassmaster.com reader, you can get 15 percent off the regular subscription price when you use code BFB001 today.