DRAGONFLY - RAYMARINE

A CLEARLY DIFFERENT BULL SHOALS

Posted by Z3 MEDIA STAFF on 04/17/2013

Story by Matt Pangrac - Photos by Matt Pangrac and Dave Rush

Bull Shoals, AR – The Bassmaster Elite Series returns to Bull Shoals Lake this week for the second time in as many years for the third stop of the 2013 season.   In 2012, the northern Arkansas fishery located in the Ozark Mountains showed out in impressive style, as 95 of the 99 Elite Series anglers brought a limit to the scales each of the first two tournament days. 

Idaho’s Brandon Palaniuk claimed his first Elite Series victory on Bull Shoals in April of 2012, running away from the field with a total weight of 78-6. 

The general consensus among the majority of the anglers this year is that the lake is fishing totally different than it did for the 2012 slugfest.  The most notable difference is water clarity.  Last year, the visibility in the majority of the lake was 10 feet or less.  This year, the pros arrived to find that Bull Shoals is the cleanest that it has been in years, with visibility at around 20 feet.  

“It completely changes how the entire lake fishes,” said Ish Monroe, who finished in 15th place on Bull Shoals in 2012. “When the fish can see you coming from a mile away and can see the bait better, it changes things.”  

The weather will also play a big role this week.  Temperatures during practice topped out at 80 degrees with calm winds, but a front is predicted to roll into the area on Wednesday evening bringing with it strong winds, showers, and cooler temperatures.  On Thursday, the high is expected to be in the 60s with storms and 20-miles-per-hour winds.  Friday’s high is only 56 degrees with 15-mile-per-hour winds. 

The 5 Preview Facts for Bull Shoals
Tournament: Bassmaster Elite Series (March 18-21)
Location:  Bull Shoals Lake – Bull Shoals, Arkansas 
Fishery Facts:  45,150 acre fishery located in the Ozark Mountains in northern Arkansas along the White River.
Field Size: 100 anglers 
Previous Winner: Brandon Palaniuk – 2012 Bassmaster Elite Series (78-6)

Hank Cherry
What is the X-factor going to be this week on Bull Shoals?
“It’s definitely going to be the weather and whether or not the wind blows.  If the wind blows and we get storms and rain, guys won’t be able to catch the fish off of the beds and the guys who are fishing out are going to catch them.  If the forecast is wrong and the wind doesn’t blow, this thing is going to be a sight fishing fest.”

What was the most challenging aspect or biggest surprise for you during practice?
“I was surprised at how well the fish bite in this clear water.  For two days, it’s been nothing but catching fish wherever I went.  To see the amount of fish in this lake is pretty impressive.”

How much of a factor is overall experience on Bull Shoals going to play this week? 
“Once again, I think that the weather is going to play a big factor in how important experience on this lake is.  The water is so clear that there are only a certain number of things that you can do.  We have a lot of water like this around home, so it really doesn’t bother me that much.  This lake sets up really well for some of my strengths.” 

Will this event be won in a particular area or will an angler have to move around to have success?
“I don’t think that the guys who are bed fishing are going to have to run very much because this lake is full of pockets and corners, and it seems like there are fish in every one of them.  It just depends on how many guys find the same fish and the weather conditions.  For me, there’s not going to be any sitting still.  This is one of those places where if you start at the dam and get a bite, you can run that pattern all the way up the lake.” 

Will the winning weight this week be over or under 60-pounds?  
“I’d say that it will take over 60-pounds to win this week.” 

Ish Monroe
What is the X-factor going to be this week on Bull Shoals?
“The X-factor this week is going to be getting a big bite.  You can catch 2 ½-pounder after 2 ½-pounder, but a 4- or 5-pounder mixed in there will make all the difference in the world.” 

What was the most challenging aspect or biggest surprise for you during practice?
“The biggest surprise is how clear the lake actually is.  You can see the bottom in 20 feet of water.  Last year, you could see maybe 10 feet down and that completely changes how the entire lake fishes.  When the fish can see you coming from a mile away and can see the bait a lot better, in changes things.  You have to keep the bait moving because the fish won’t eat it if they get a good look at it.” 

How much of a factor is overall experience on Bull Shoals going to play this week? 
“I think that it will play zero.  Even guys who have lived on this lake for the past 30 years said that they’ve never seen it this clear.  I’ve been here before and I’ve seen the lake pretty clean, but never this clear.”

Will this event be won in a particular area or will an angler have to move around to have success?
“I think that this tournament will be won in a general area.  It’s hard to run and gun here because the lake is so big and you just end up killing yourself time wise.  Me personally, I plan on burning two 40-gallon tanks of gas running to where I’m trying to get to.” 

Will the winning weight this week be over or under 60-pounds?  
“Not much over 60-pounds, but I think that it will take over that number to win.” 

Keith Combs
What is the X-factor going to be this week on Bull Shoals?
“I think that you’re really going to have to adjust to the weather.  The bite has changed every day during practice because of the warming trend.  You’re going to have to make a big adjustment after this cold front, and that’s going to be the deciding factor in my opinion.” 

What was the most challenging aspect or biggest surprise for you during practice?
“I thought that I’d be able to catch them the same way that I caught them last year when we came to Bull Shoals, but that’s just not the case at all.”

How much of a factor is overall experience on Bull Shoals going to play this week? 
“I hope that prior experience plays, because I fished in an area last year that had some quality fish.  That area isn’t as good this year, but I’m still planning on staying with it because I know that the fish are in there.  I think that a guy who did well last year could do really well this year as well.”

Will this event be won in a particular area or will an angler have to move around to have success?
“I think that you could win in one area.  Just about every creek on this lake has the same thing to offer, so if you can make the right adjustments within the same creek, I think that you could find some quality fish.”

Will the winning weight this week be over or under 60-pounds?  
“I would say right at 60-pounds.”

John Crews
What is the X-factor going to be this week on Bull Shoals?
“Wind. We are going to get wind on the first two days of the tournament and we haven’t had a whole lot during practice, so it will be interesting to see how the wind changes things.”

What was the most challenging aspect or biggest surprise for you during practice?
“The most challenging part has been trying to plan for conditions that we haven’t seen yet.”

How much of a factor is overall experience on Bull Shoals going to play this week? 
“I think that past history on this lake could really mess some people up this week, but at the same time it could also help put you in the right part of the lake.  I’d say that there’s an equal chance that prior experience on Bull Shoals could either hurt or help an angler.”

Will this event be won in a particular area or will an angler have to move around to have success?
“I’m not really sure.  The lake is just slowly coming up and it’s a huge lake, so I don’t really feel like there’s a need for the fish to really congregate in specific areas.  Last year, the lake level dropped a whole bunch before we fished here and I think that grouped up the fish.” 

Will the winning weight this week be over or under 60-pounds?  
“Barely over 60-pounds will win.” 

Pete Ponds
What is the X-factor going to be this week on Bull Shoals?
“It has to be the weather and the front that is predicted to roll in.  The temperature is going to drop over 15 degrees on Thursday, and it’s going to be ever worse on the second day.  The wind is supposed to blow 18-miles-per-hour on Thursday and 22-miles-per-hour on Friday.  That’s going make things pretty tough.”
 
What was the most challenging aspect or biggest surprise for you during practice?
“The lack of a crankbait bite.  I love throwing a crankbait and the fish just aren’t biting it that well this year.  I’ve thrown it a lot during practice, so if guys catch them cranking, then they’ve figured out something that I haven’t.”

How much of a factor is overall experience on Bull Shoals going to play this week? 
“I’m sure that it will play a great deal.  I think that guys like Rick Clunn and also the California guys will excel because this is the stuff that they’re used to.” 

Will this event be won in a particular area or will an angler have to move around to have success?
“This is going to be pattern fishing tournament, and it usually always is on this lake.  I think that you’ll have to fish the wind and fish the banks that are exposed.  The big question is whether or not you’ll be able to do that with the wind blowing into it. 

Will the winning weight this week be over or under 60-pounds?  
“I’d say probably a little bit under 60-pounds or right at 60-pounds.”