So this was an event that I decided to "Jackpot" since I fish the river at least once a week and figured I could cash a check and possibly get lucky and win. I registered just before we had torrential rains which flooded the drainage basins of the Arkansas River. The rains not only drastically impacted water levels but also water clarity. The fish were mid-spawn and combined with the spawn funk, they got the muddy water funk, so needless to say the fish were extra funky and not biting well at all!! I actually wanted my $230 entry fee back, but that wasn't an option.
I practiced all the way from Fort Smith, Arkansas to Catoosa, Oklahoma when I had a free day leading up to the event. I found a few fish everywhere but ultimately decided to go to an area that I knew better than any other. I had found fish that were spawning on isolated stumps and some of them were definitely the right kind (4-plus). The dirtier water had hidden these stumps but I still knew where they were so on game day I locked up and headed to them. Right off the bat, 3rd cast I threw a frog over the top of one of these stumps which was snuggled in behind a small patch of grass, and a river giant exploded on it. She was an old spawned out female with no tail and was just under 5lbs. As I went down the bank flipping my usual "river plastics", I began to get frustrated as several of the key stumps were not producing bites. I tried jigs, creature baits, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and nothing. So I picked up my spinning rod with a finesse bait and first stump I targeted produced a bite (2 1/2 pounder). This told me all I needed to know...the fish were there but likely due to pressure of being fished they weren't biting as aggressively as they normally do so finesse tactics were in order! YES FINESSE FISHING WITH A SPINNING ROD ON THE ARKANSAS RIVER!! I lost a couple of key fish but managed a limit for 14lbs and 7oz and tied for 5th place and got me one of those pretty plaques!