Back to Nature: Big Bass Classic

My Tuesday blogs are dedicated to experiencing the great outdoors. I feature anything from park events to Natural State destinations worth seeing. Join me each week to get back to nature.

Jill M. Rohrbach

Ten thousand dollars is up for grabs at the Lake Dardanelle Big Bass Classic this weekend, April 24-25, in Russellville. In its third year, it will again be headquartered at the Lake Dardanelle State Park weigh-in pavilion. The largest bass weighed in on Saturday will be worth $5,000, as will the largest bass on Sunday. The largest of these two bass will be worth an extra $5,000. New this year is a prize of $1,000 to the largest bass weighed in by a non-resident fisherman.

As if that wasn’t enough, the top five fishermen each hour will also receive payouts each day. There will be six hourly payouts each day of $500, $400, $300 and $200 in cash/check and a $100 gift certificate to Wilkins Bros. Outdoors. That’s all based on a minimum of 200 entries each day. Seventy percent of the entry fees are paid back with 30 percent donated equally to the Illinois Bayou Park & Boat Ramp Project and Arkansas Tech Fisheris Scholarship Fund.

Anglers can launch anywhere on Lake Dardanelle, then travel to Lake Dardanelle State park for the weigh-in.
Surrounded by the natural beauty for which the Arkansas River Valley is known, Lake Dardanelle is a sprawling 34,300-acre reservoir on the Arkansas River. These two water resources combined here have put this area into the national spotlight as a major bass fishing tournament site. Lake Dardanelle State Park offers two areas on the lake: one park site is at Russellville, and the other is located at nearby Dardanelle. Both the Russellville (main park) and Dardanelle locations offer camping (74 sites: Russellville–16 Class AAA, 14 Class AA, and 26 Class B; Dardanelle Area–18 Class B), launch ramps, standard pavilions, picnic sites, restrooms, and bathhouses with hot showers.

The Russellville site also features a striking 10,527-square-foot visitor center on the lakeshore overlooking Lake Dardanelle. Engaging interpretive exhibits and state-of-the-art touch screen kiosks share information on the park, the area’s water resources and its history. A fascinating aquatic exhibit in the center features four aquariums that hold fish found in the lake, the Arkansas River, and its tributaries; Piney Creek and the Illinois Bayou.
Another unique facility in the (Russellville) main area is the park’s 1,861-square-foot, fishing tournament weigh-in pavilion, a world class facility and the first of its kind in the nation that serves as a staging area for tournaments. Near the weigh-in pavilion is a covered, barrier-free fishing pier, a popular facility for bank fishing enthusiasts, sightseers and photographers.

Entry forms for the Big Bass Classic can be picked up at these locations: Wilkins Bros. Outdoors (479-968-4322); Arkansas Rod & Reel (501-224-6160); Fish-N-Stuff (501-834-5733); Trader Bill’s (501-623-8403); Tackle Box (479-646-3193); and Spadra Marina (479-754-5021). Or go online for applications and more information at;; or These Websites have a list of launch sites, and ideas on where to eat and sleep.
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