Bassmaster Classic Historical Site Comes Alive


The Arkansas Big Bass Bonanza is set for June 28-30, 2013 on the Arkansas River

Respect doesn’t come easy, especially for a bass fishery. The fruited plains are clogged with average to good bass waterways. But to garner that great, even epic stature a fishery has to be routinely recognized by its peers, the competitive anglers.

The Arkansas River is one of those title holders. Hailed locally and regionally as a blue chip tournament fishing site, the sixth longest river in the United States first earned national prestige at the sound of the B.A.S.S. trumpet.

It was Bassmaster Classic XIV – that’s 14 for non-Roman numeral interpreters. Pine Bluff, Arkansas was hosting younger buck versions of Roland Martin, Jimmy Houston, Denny Brauer, Hank Parker and the cerebral competitor Rick Clunn. (Then Arkansas Governor, President Bill Clinton and Vice President George Bush were in attendance.)

Ultimately, it was Clunn who made bass fishing history by weighing 75 lb, 9 oz. during a dog-days stretch in late summer 1984. Other records were crushed, too. The Arkansas River yielded an all-time Bassmaster Classic total of 462 fish weighing 930 lbs. 4 oz., establishing two new marks.

There’s no mystery why the Arkansas River has acquired the title of “Bass Capitol of the World.”

This also explains why the upcoming Arkansas Big Bass Bonanza continues to be the tournament of choice for amateur anglers. There are just so many fish…

The three-day Arkansas Big Bass Bonanza tournament spans 300 miles and includes five pools of the Arkansas River, with official check-in stations at Fort Smith, Dardanelle, Little Rock/North Little Rock, Pine Bluff and the Pendleton Bridge near Dumas. The Big Bass Bonanza is open to all ages and attracts amateur anglers from around the country.

The Big Bass Bonanza is The Natural State’s largest amateur fishing tournament with this year’s guaranteed cash prizes of $50,000 for the largest fish overall; $10,000 for the largest fish overall in each of the remaining four pools; and place-money for the overall winners per pool – $900 for second place, $700 for third and $400 for fourth.

In addition to the guaranteed hourly prizes, families are eligible for the Willow Leaf Award, a $1,000 cash prize given to the parent/child or grandparent/grandchild pair weighing the largest bass.

Hourly prize money for first, second and third place will be the top priority after the guaranteed prizes are awarded. The number of tournament registrants will determine the hourly amounts. Anglers are encouraged to pre-register to eliminate waiting time, but can register on the morning of each day of the tournament.

The Arkansas Big Bass Bonanza runs from Friday, June 28 through Sunday June 30, with fishing starting each morning at 6:00 am. The first weigh-in is at 8:00 a.m., with following weigh-ins at the top of each hour until 1 p.m. each day. Entry is $90 per person each day. The winners will be announced Sunday, June 30, at 4:00 p.m.

The Arkansas Big Bass Bonanza is a partnership between the Arkansas Hospitality Association and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. For more information and to register for the tournament, visit

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