Fishing & Boating News

Anglers Gearing up to Find the $50,000 Fish

The Simmons Bank Big Bass Bonanza puts huge money on the line for amateur anglers.

by: Leslie Sundahl, Traditions Media

Photo by courtesy Arkansas Big Bass
Photo by http://www.arkansasbigbass.com/
(Jun 14, 2016 - Arkansas,USA) The Natural State’s largest fishing tournament is set for liftoff June 24-26, 2016. $100,000 in prize money and bragging rights are up for grabs along the Arkansas River, from the Oklahoma border at Fort Smith to the banks of the Mississippi River in Desha County. In between, amateur anglers from around the United States (23 states represented) will also compete in pools at North Little Rock, Pine Bluff and Russellville in the 2016 Simmons Bank Big Bass Bonanza.
 
The angler who weighs the largest bass overall will take home a $50,000 check. Five other checks, each for $10,000, will be awarded for biggest fish in each of the remaining five pools. Place money per pool is $900 to second place; $700 to third place; and $400 to fourth in each of the five pools. Additional hourly cash prizes will also be awarded at each weigh-in location, as well as fabulous product prizes from popular fishing brands Aqua-Vu, Plano and St. Croix Rod.
 
“It was life changing money,” says Steve Scherrey of Conway, who doubled-down, earning the big payoff in 2000 and 2014. “The first time I won it, I got to pay off a lot of bills and buy my wife a new car. The second time was a little different. 14 years later, we were able to use some of the money to go on vacation and splurge a little bit.”
 
 
In bass tournaments, big money for big fish is usually reserved for professional anglers who are armed-to-the-gills with over six figures worth of equipment—not so, here. The Simmons Big Bass Bonanza is for amateur anglers only. And it’s a yearly shot for many to earn some life-changing money while having a flat-out ball trying. “It’s a really neat tournament for fishermen to go out and experience a little competition,” Scherrey adds. “I’m just a regular old fisherman, you know. I like to catch bream, bass and crappie. But what makes this fun is that you never know…the next cast could win it all.”
 
For Scherrey, the next cast did win it all—twice. And with winning fish, each weighing in at just under seven pounds, well in the range of big bass all along the Arkansas River, any angler could do the same.

That’s what happened to Robinette Fox of Hot Springs, when she became the first woman to bring home the big check last year. “I’ve been fishing this tournament for fifteen years with my husband,” Fox said. “We were catching a few normal size fish, and then ten minutes later we hooked the big one.”

The big one turned out to be a 7.15 pound bass worth $50,000.
 
“It was awesome. I really don’t know how to explain it,” Fox exclaimed. “I can’t tell you how it changed my life. I can be walking through any store and people I don’t even know recognize me. It was great to catch the fish. It was just all the better to be the first female to win. I was the first female in 26 years to win it, and I relive it a lot.”
 
Fox said she and her husband have already entered this year. Her goal? To become the first lady angler to win the tournament twice. 70 miles north of Fox, over in Conway, if you ask Steve Scherrey, he’ll tell you that she has as good a chance as any—maybe even you.
 
Online registration for the Arkansas Big Bass Bonanza is open through June 22. To register, visit ArkansasBigBass.com. Anglers may register on tournament days at official weigh-in sites. Only cash payments will be accepted at weigh-in sites.
 
 
2016 Tournament Pool Locations
Fort Smith
Russellville
North Little Rock
Pine Bluff
Dumas
 
 
2016 Tournament Schedule
Friday, June 24th
6 a.m. Fishermen, cast your lines
8 a.m. First hourly weigh-in
9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Hourly weigh-ins at the top of the hour
 
Saturday, June 25th
6 a.m. Fishermen, cast your lines
8 a.m. First hourly weigh-in
9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Hourly weigh-ins at the top of the hour
 
Sunday, June 26th
6 a.m. Fishermen, cast your lines
8 a.m. First hourly weigh-in
9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Hourly weigh-ins at the top of the hour
Robinette Fox became the first lady angler to win the Big Bass Bananza last year.
Photo by courtesy Arkansas Big Bass
Plano's new A-Series Quick-Top Tackle Bags are part of this year's prize mix.
Photo by courtesy Arkansas Big Bass