Fish the annual Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival
Each year Sevier County is the scene of the Tri-Lakes Big Bass Festival. This year marks the 32nd year for the popular fishing event, which is held on three area lakes: De Queen Lake, Dierks Lake and Gillham Lake. This year the event is May 28 and the payout includes over $14,000 in prize money. There will be five hourly prizes given on each lake. First place in the event also lands a $1,500 payout.
The area lakes of De Queen, Dierks and Gillham all have U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' recreation areas with campgrounds. “All the lakes either border or sit against Sevier County,” said Sevier County Judge Greg Ray and committee chairman for the event.
The largest of the lakes is De Queen, which is around 1,680 acres with a shoreline of a little over 30 miles. The town of De Queen has an interesting history. The town’s foundational roots came from a frontier settlement called Hurrah City. When the Kansas City Southern Railroad came through in the late 1880s, a Dutch coffee merchant, Jan de Goeijen, in a joint effort with railroad magnate Arthur Stilwell, raised money to finance the town, which eventually was named after de Goeijen, but in a form of his name people could more easily pronounce: De Queen. An interesting tie to this history is that the town of Mena in Polk County was named for de Goeijen’s wife, Mena Janssen de Goeijen. You can learn more local history at the Sevier County Museum in De Queen at 717 Walter J Leeper Drive.
The 1,370-acre Gillham Lake has around 36 miles of shoreline and a few miles away is the town of Gillham.
The beauty of these area lakes is a strong lure. “They are small lakes and they all have beautiful scenery,” Ray said. “And they are small lakes so fish don’t have a lot of places to hide.” The anglers have their choice of which lake they want to fish on during the event. Another interesting note is that which lake the big bass have been coming from during the event have been spread around over the years. “For a long time Dierks was the hot spot,” said Ray. “Then Gillham became the hot spot. Then De Queen. Then Dierks was last year. It doesn’t stay in one spot.” The average weight for the top bass at the festival has been around 6 to 6.5 pounds.
As to the history of the event, the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce started the festival over 30 years ago and they are still involved in the event today.
More details can be found via the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce website here.