Jonathon Swink, a 28-year-old resident of DeValls Bluff, is leaving the Arkansas River with an extra $50,000, thanks to his day-one 6.63-lb. largemouth bass from the Coal Pile area of the river, 10 miles north of Dumas.
Total anglers fishing during the 3-day tournament was 2,014 which was up over last year.
Swink said he had fished the Big Bass Bonanza only once before this year.
“I fished the Pine bluff pool last year,” Swink said, “but I have fished Coal pile a couple of times in club tournaments.”
When he launched the boat on Friday morning, he found a number of other contestants in Coal Pile. “I went all the way to the back of Coal Pile,” Swink said.
“That’s where I caught this fish.”
Swink said the fish hit a pumpkinseed candy-colored jig with a pork chunk trailer.
There was much more prize money to go around after the top fish of the tournament was named. Each angler claiming the top fish in their respective pool also claimed a cool $10,000.
Winners of the other four pools were:
Martin Arnold, Alma (4.97) – Fort Smith pool
Larry Gentry, Clarksville (6.05) – Dardanelle/Russellville pool
Matthew Hamby, Little Rock (6.34) – North Little Rock/Little Rock pool
Clinton Chandler, Lewisville (5.64) – Pine Bluff pool
Another successful angler was Matthew Hamby of Little Rock. His 6.34-lb. bass brought in Friday was the top fish in the Little Rock pool as well as the Willow Leaf Award of $1,000. This award goes to the top parent-child or grand-parent-grandchild team.
There also were guaranteed prizes for the second, third and fourth place finishers in each pool. Bonus money and hourly payout for the top three fish weighed in at each weigh-in station each hour of the tournament totaled $101,700. In all, more than $200,000 was divvied up among anglers fishing the tournament.
The annual tournament is the result of a 14-year partnership with the Arkansas Hospitality Association and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. This tournament spans more than 300 miles of eligible fishing waters on the Arkansas River inside the state’s borders. The grand prize and other cash awards were presented during Sunday’s award ceremony, at 4 p.m. at the Downtown Riverside RV Park in North Little Rock.