RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. (May 10, 2021) – Toyota Series angler Kirk Smith of Edmond, Oklahoma, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 19 pounds, 15 ounces to win the three-day Toyota Series presented by A.R.E. at Lake Dardanelle Presented by Fenwick in Russellville, Arkansas. Mundy’s three-day total of 15 bass weighing 51-3 earned him the win by a 6-pound margin over second-place angler Zach King of Clarksville, Arkansas, and earned Smith the top payout of $36,104 in the third and final tournament of the 2021 Toyota Series Plains Division.
Smith said he considers himself an offshore and electronics geek, a combo that helped him blow it out on Lake Dardanelle. While the majority of the field’s success seemed to go up and down throughout the event, Smith had a pattern like no one else that allowed him to lay off early the first two days and still be leading by an ounce.
Saturday, he finally got to show off what that pattern could do, bringing in 19 pounds, 15 ounces – the second-largest bag of the event – to blow away the field by 6 pounds with a 51-3 total.
“I never knew what I had (with my pattern), because I was letting up on on Days 1 and 2,” said Smith. “That final day, I absolutely unleashed the fury on them and just mashed them as hard as I could. Even I’m impressed with what I had.”
In practice, Smith said he was trying to find secret backwaters like many other pros, but it just wasn’t happening. Yet, while idling out of a pocket he inadvertently found something most people came across but simply overlooked.
“I was watching my side-imaging and noticed this little underwater point of grass and that’s when it all started,” said Smith. “I threw a waypoint on it and said, ‘huh, that looks good,’ but I didn’t know exactly where it was. So, I got up on the trolling motor and realized it was 15-20 feet off the bank. That’s when a lightbulb went off. The guys were either on the bank or the guys offshore were way offshore, out too deep. I knew no one else would be fishing that.”
Fishing mainly in the Shoal Bay and Thompson Creek area, Smith found grass points, isolated stumps and isolated stumps with grass that were far off the bank but not deep, and were not getting hit by anyone else. Best of all, Smith said he realized on Day 3 those spots were reloading thanks to the falling water, so it was just a matter of precisely hitting them.
Much like pros do over open water, Smith said he’d get in an area and troll around while watching his electronics for stumps and isolated grass patches. When he saw one, and if he saw a fish on it, he could nearly call his shot tossing a prototype ½-ounce BOOYAH swim jig with a Zoom Super Chunk trailer (both black-and-blue).
“I’m not much of a swim jig guy,” says Smith. “I’m a ¾-ounce, 25-feet of water guy. But getting that bait down there and swimming it, getting kind of aggressive with it was a big, big thing.”
The results spoke for themselves, with Smith catching a limit before 9 a.m. all three days of the tournament.
“It’s been a magical week,” said Smith. “I was talking to a buddy from the Muddy Water Mob before the week. I told him I’m feeling warm and fuzzy about this tournament. I can’t explain it, because when I saw this tournament on the schedule this year … Lake of the Ozarks, I can compete. Grand Lake, I can compete. Dardanelle, I thought I could just survive. So, winning this is just amazing.”
The top 10 pros on Lake Dardanelle finished:
1st: Kirk Smith of Edmond, Okla., 15 bass, 51-3, $36,104
2nd: Zach King of Clarksville, Ark., 15 bass, 45-3, $13,409
3rd: Theron Caldwell of Decatur, Texas, 15 bass, 44-6, $10,381
4th: Bruce Parsons of Arbela, Mo., 15 bass, 38-7, $10,151
5th: Wayne Dixon of Morrilton, Ark., 15 bass, 37-12, $7,786
6th: Jeff Kriet of Ardmore, Okla., 15 bass, 37-0, $6,921
7th: Fred Roumbanis of Russellville, Ark., 15 bass, 35-13, $6,056
8th: Andy Newcomb of Camdenton, Mo., 14 bass, 35-5, $5,191
9th: Chip Hawkins of Little Rock, Ark., 12 bass, 34-9, $4,445
10th: BJ Miller of Adams, Neb., 10 bass, 28-12, $3,579
A complete list of results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Chip Hawkins of Little Rock, Arkansas, took home an additional $119 for the Day One Berkley Big Bass award in the pro division, with a bass weighing 6 pounds, 2 ounces. BJ Miller of Adams, Nebraska, won the Day Two Berkley Big Bass award in the pro division, bringing a 6-pound, 2-ounce bass to the scale.
Bruce Parsons of Arbela, Missouri, took home an extra $1,000 as the highest finishing Phoenix MLF BIG5 Bonus member. Boaters are eligible to win up to an extra $35,000 per event in each Toyota Series tournament if all requirements are met. More information on the Phoenix MLF BIG5 Bonus contingency program can be found at PhoenixBassBoats.com.
Michael Carter of Raytown, Missouri, won the Strike King Co-angler Division Saturday with a three-day total of 10 bass weighing 26 pounds, 1 ounce. Carter took home the top prize package of a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard motor.
The top 10 Strike King co-anglers on Lake Dardanelle finished:1st: Michael Carter of Raytown, Mo., 10 bass, 26-1, Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat w/115-hp outboard2nd: Todd Brown of Bigelow, Ark., 11 bass, 25-7, $4,3943rd: Derrick Damon of Clarksville, Ark., nine bass, 24-5, $3,5944th: JP Northcutt of Grove, Okla., 10 bass, 24-5, $3,0765th: Dewey Larson of Fayetteville, Ark., 11 bass, 22-15, $2,6366th: Tyler Stuart of Manchester, Mo., 10 bass, 20-7, $2,1977th: Mark Powers of Platteville, Colo., 11 bass, 19-7, $1,7578th: Austin Ware of Willard, Mo., nine bass, 19-3, $1,538
9th: Roscoe White, III of Rogers, Ark., six bass, 16-8, $1,318
10th: Micheal Sharp of Calera, Okla., six bass, 14-13, $1,098
In the Strike King co-angler division, the $79 Day One Berkley Big Bass award winner was David Epema of Jefferson City, Missouri, with a 4-pound bass, 1-ounce bass, while the $79 Day Two award went to Derrick Damon of Clarksville, Arkansas, with a 6-pound, 10-ounce bass.
The Toyota Series at Lake Dardanelle was presented by Fenwick and was hosted by the Russellville Advertising and Promotion Commission. It was the third and final regular-season tournament in 2021 for Plains Division anglers. The next event for Toyota Series anglers will take place on May 13-15 – the Toyota Series at the California Delta in Oakley, California. For a complete schedule, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com.
The 2021 Toyota Series presented by A.R.E. consists of six divisions – Central, Northern, Plains, Southern, Southwestern and Western – each holding three regular-season events, along with the International division. Anglers who fish all three qualifiers in any of the eight divisions and finish in the top 25 will qualify for the no-entry-fee Toyota Series presented by A.R.E. Championship for a shot at winning $235,000 cash, including a $35,000 Phoenix MLF BIG5 Bonus for qualified anglers. The winning Strike King co-angler at the championship earns a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard.