Conditions Appear Favorable for Big Bass Bonanza on Arkansas River


Predicting conditions for a fishing competition several weeks in the future can be a lesson in futility. Still things are looking good at this point for the 2014 Arkansas Big Bass Bonanza.

This is the state’s most popular fishing tournament. Around 2,000 anglers, sometimes more, working the waters of the Arkansas River anywhere from the Oklahoma state line to the junction of the Mississippi River trying for the guaranteed $50,000 first prize.

It is an event only for amateur fishermen and likely is the largest such contest in the nation. Fishermen who compete in the professional bass circuits are not eligible.

In nearly three decades of the Bonanza and its predecessor, there has not been a repeat winner.

Last year’s champion was Jonathon Swink, 28 at the time and a resident of DeValls Bluff. He caught a 6.63-pound largemouth bass on the first morning of competition, and it held up all the way.

Tournament dates this year are Friday, Saturday and Sunday, June 27-29. Entry fee is $80 per day through June 11, and then it will increase by $10. Big Bass Bonanza is an undertaking of Arkansas Hospitality Association with the assistance of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. All the entry money is returned in prizes except for the costs of the tournament, and sponsors help with these expenses.

The river is divided into five fishing pools, and the five weigh-in sites are:

  • Clear Creek Park, Fort Smith.
  • Dardanelle State Park, Russellville side.
  • Verizon Ramp, North Little Rock.
  • Regional Park, Pine Bluff.
  • Pendleton Bridge, east of Dumas.

Contestants can to fish any of the five pools and can fish different pools during the three-day event. However, all fish must be weighed in the pool in which they were caught. Eligible fish species include largemouth, smallmouth and Kentucky or spotted bass. Tournament anglers may register online at

Registration information and applications are also available at fishing and outdoors shops across the state. For more information about the tournament, contact the Arkansas Hospitality Association at 800-472-5022 or by e-mail at [email protected].

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