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.
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. “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.”
For more details on this Elite Series event, visit www.Bassmaster.com.
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.