Dumas Police Officer Ricky Cantrell’s 6.76-pound winning catch the first day of the Simmons Bank Big Bass Bonanza earned him a $50,000 cash prize.
“I’ve got a baby due in three weeks,” Cantrell said. “I’m pretty excited about that, but this is crazy. I didn’t even imagine winning when I signed up. Winning is a pretty big thing. I just tried to come out here and just go fishing and win some hourly money.”
Cantrell braved the tail end of Tropical Storm Cindy as it swept through the southeastern portion of the state on Friday morning, landing the winning bass not far from the Dumas boat ramp.
“To be honest, I was pretty happy about the rain,” he said. “I love fishing in the rain. The wind was blowing outrageously out there, but that helped me out because when it got calm and clear the fish out there pretty much shut off.”
The 11-year veteran of the Dumas Police Department fished all three days of the 3-day tournament, but couldn’t replicate Friday’s success later in the weekend. He didn’t need to.
The winning fish came early, though Cantrell had to sweat out hourly weigh-ins all weekend. The winning lure was a 3/8 oz. crappie colored Jig Sooie swim jig.
Cantrell says he plans to donate part of his winnings to the church. The rest, likely, will go towards raising his new baby girl, who will join a growing family of two daughters and a son.
The annual tournament spans more than 300 miles of eligible fishing waters on the river inside the state’s borders. The event is divided into five pools. The five weigh-in sites were:
Pool 1 – Clear Creek Park, Fort Smith
Pool 2 – Dardanelle State Park/Russellville side
Pool 3 – North Little Rock/Verizon Ramp
Pool 4 – Regional Park/ Pine Bluff
Pool 5 – Pendleton Bridge/east of Dumas.
Four other anglers took home $10,000 checks for weighing the largest fish in their pool. The final $10,000 pool winners are:
Pool 1 — Brandon Rudolph, 5.76 lbs.
Pool 2 — Erik Adland, 6.23 lbs.
Pool 3 — Justin “Buck” Buchanan, 6.62 lbs.
Pool 4 — Steve Henderson, 6.05 lbs
The $1,000 Willow Leaf Award, given to the parent/child or grandparent/grandchild duo with the largest fish was won by Brandon Rudolph and his son Matthew for their 5.76 lb fish out of Fort Smith.
Academy Outdoors Sports awarded Duane Fears of Forth Smith a $300 gift card for landing a fish weighing exactly three pounds during the third hour of weigh-ins.
Youth 6-8 grade Winners:
1st —Luke Hackney, 4.43 lbs
2nd—Haley Rodgers, 3.95 lbs
3rd— Matthew Higby, 3.1 lbs
Youth 9-12 grade Winners:
1st —Brandon Ward, 5.53 lbs
2nd—Daniel Shopher, 4.5 lbs
3rd— Scout Echols, 4.45 lbs
Complete results for all anglers can be seen at ArkansasBigBass.com/results.