Posted by Z3 MEDIA STAFF on 05/14/2014

Story by Matt Pangrac - Photos by Dave Rush

Tournament: Bassmaster Elite Series (Stop #5)
Fishery: Lake Dardanelle – Russellville, Arkansas
Fishery Facts: 40,000 acre fishery located along the Arkansas River
Previous Elite Series Winner:  Mark Menendez (2009); 55-7
Field Size: 108 anglers

Scott Rook
Rook on how the precipitation and cold front will affect the fishing this week on Dardanelle:
“The rain will affect the fishing, because as soon as there’s rain in the forecast, the Corps of Engineers will dump a lot of water out of the pool and cause the water level to drop really low.  It really hurts the fishing on the bank and the grass is not in the water and the good (bass) just aren’t up there.

“Last Friday, they ran 75,000 current and then cut it off and filled the pool up.  On Saturday, they jacked the fish (in a local tournament).   If (the Corps) does that again this week, it could happen again.  So far, it’s been really tough for me with a lot of little fish. The big ones have been hard to come by.”  

Rook on the advantages and disadvantages of competing on a fishery in his home state where he has past history:
“Fishing specific spots where you’ve caught fish in the past will eventually catch up to you if you’re not careful.  A lot of the stuff that I fished years ago is shallow and silted in, so it’s not nearly as good as it was in the past.   You have to make an effort to fish in the present and not rely on what worked for you in previous tournaments.”

Rook on the quality of Lake Dardanelle:
“The fishing right now is as good as it has ever been here.  The weights that are being put up in tournaments on this lake right now are unbelievable to me, because Dardanelle didn’t used to be as good.  In the past it would still take 20-pounds to win, but 35th place wouldn’t be 15-pounds and now it is. “

Rook on the lack of grass on Dardanelle:
“There’s a very good possibility that a guy could win without weighing-in a fish that was relating to grass because there’s just not that much of it.  The grass hasn’t grown much this year because of the late winter that we’ve had.”  

Rook on what it will take to win the tournament:
“I think that the winning weight will be under 80-pounds.”

Rook on what he has done well during the first half of the season and what he needs to do well heading into the second half of the season:
“I’ve made really good decisions this year, and I will have to make a good decision this week as to where I’m going to fish.  I have fish on both ends of the pool, so it will be critical that I make the right decision about where I start on Thursday.”

Dean Rojas
Rojas on how the fishery has changed since the last time he was on Dardanelle in 2009:
“There’s not as much grass on the main river channel, which may just be a result of the timing.  The last two times we were here there was a lot of standing grass that used to be everywhere on the whole lake, and it’s only in certain areas of the lake right now.”

Rojas on the difficulty of moving around on Dardanelle:
“It’s a dangerous lake because there are a lot of stumps out there.  I guess that I’ve been fortunate enough to see the lake when the water was low, because some of the areas look like Toledo Bend with all the underwater wood.  I’ve already bent my prop shaft a little during practice just by getting a little bit outside the channel and hitting a stump.  As a whole, the lake is fishing really well and there’s a lot of shoreline cover for the bass.  You can have fun just going out and fishing.”

Rojas on the possibility of sight fishing for spawning bass this week:
“I think that maybe 0% to 5% of the field will sight fish this week.  There might be a few small places where you can see spawners, but the water color in the majority of the lake just isn’t good enough to see any beds.” 

Rojas on what he has done well during the first half of the season and what he needs to do well heading into the second half of the season:
“When I have fished well this year, I’ve fished really well, made good decisions, and put everything in the boat.  I need to continue that into the remaining tournaments because we have Chickamauga, the Delaware River, and Cayuga coming up and I’ve never been to any of those places.  It’s going to be interesting to see how that shakes out, but I usually do well on fisheries that I’ve never seen before.”  

Rojas on what he thinks it will take to win this week:
“I think that it will take under 70-pounds to raise the trophy on Sunday.”

Terry Scroggins
Scroggins on the weather over the first two days of practice:
“We’ve seen it all over the past 48 hours.  It was pretty nice when I first got here, but then it got really windy and rained 3” to 4”.  It’s going to be really cold today and tonight before getting nice again for the tournament, so we are getting to see it all this week.  
“The neat thing is that I think they’re used to it and weather swings don’t seem to shut these fish down like Florida strain bass shut down with cold fronts.  It’s mentally tough on the fishermen but not on the fish. ”

Scroggins on the water clarity this week:
“You can actually get in the mud and catch fish here.  We’ve had a lot of rain, and with the runoff the lake is turning muddy.  I’m not really too worried about fishing in dirty water this week because the fish seem to continue to bite well.”   

Scroggins on what he believes the winning pattern will be this week:
“It’s setting up to where you can really pattern the lake.  I don’t think that you’re going to be able to win by sitting on one spot and guarding it.  It is fishing small, and there appears to be three or four key areas that are good and there are 108 of us.  That’s just what we do.”  

Scroggins on the likelihood of catching a bedding bass:
“There’s a good chance that I’ll weigh-in a spawner this week.”  

Scroggins on what he has done well during the first half of the season and what he needs to do well heading into the second half of the season:
“I really haven’t done a whole lot of good things this year so far.  I should be way up in the Angler Of the Year points, but I’m not because I lost three or four key fish.  I’m really looking forward to getting that straightened out in the second half of the year and turning things around.”

Ott DeFoe
DeFoe on how he would describe Lake Dardanelle:
“It’s muddy right now.  I would even say that it’s very similar to a shallow version of the Tennessee River but wider in a lot of areas.  The thing that’s odd is that it doesn’t seem to be a current driven fishery like the Tennessee River fisheries are.  It looks like it should be on the map, but the fish don’t really seem to like the current here or set up on the ledges in the current.   I guess that they don’t really want to do that right now because the water is so dirty.  Even though there’s a lot of color in the water, it hasn’t gotten as trashed as I thought it would get with all the rain.”

DeFoe on the uncertainty heading into the first tournament day:
“I think that there are a lot of guys this week that will start the tournament on Thursday with the attitude of ‘just going fishing.’ It’s setting up to be one of those deals where you could either really catch them or not catch them at all and you just have to see how it plays out.”  

DeFoe on catching spawning bass this week on Dardanelle:
“I really think that we are so far along and the water is so warm here that not very many guys will catch spawners.  I just came from Lake Fork and there were still a lot of fish spawning there, but the water temperature was 68 degrees.  I’ve seen a lot of 75 to 80 degree water here this week, so I just don’t think that there are many spawners left.”  
DeFoe on what he thinks it will take to win this week:
“I think that it will take around 70-pounds to win this week.”

DeFoe on what he has done well during the first half of the season and what he needs to do well heading into the second half of the season:
“In the tournaments where I’ve done well, I’ve just gone fishing.   I’ve had some bad Day One performances that I’ve been able to recover from on the second day, so I would like to get off to good starts during the second half of the season and not spend Day Two digging myself out of a hole.”