Sunday, November 30, 2014

Small Water, BIG Bass

Wilderness Systems Ride 135
When anglers think about catching big bass their eyes light up. Most talk about planning bucket list trips to places like Falcon Lake in Texas, Lake St. Clair in Michigan, or Lake Guntersville in Alabama. In other words they believe big water = big bass. While it is true that these lakes and others like them hold big fish, sometimes the giant you are after can be found in "skinny water" right in your own back yard.

One such place is Shadow Lake in Noel, Missouri. Shadow Lake is only 45 minutes from most places in Northwest Arkansas. It is formed by a small dam that slows the flow of the Elk River. In 2004 the Missouri Department of Conservation designated the Elk a black bass management area. This created a sanctuary for bass to thrive and grow to impressive size.

The Elk River and Shadow Lake are known around the region for BBB (beer, beads, and ... other stuff). The area is dominated by recreational floaters which can make fishing tough, but if you get up early or hit it in the off season, the third B should stand for Bass.I have caught and seen caught multiple 5 pound plus fish from this small lake, and know of fish over 10 lbs being landed and released there. The water is crystal clear and the river provides ample forage for bass including crayfish, shad, bream, and other bait fish. With Shadow Lake being a river impoundment, there are many laydowns, log jams, and other pieces of cover for anglers to target. Natural colored jigs, soft plastics, and crankbaits are the weapons of choice.

The most popular launch point is the city park in Noel. Butler creek empties into Shadow lake from this launch and where the channels intersect when paddling out always seems to be a good spot to catch one (or several). One of the nicest things about Shadow Lake is being able to cover the whole thing in a day trip. A kayak angler can take their time fishing all the structure and cover they come across, and there are plenty of places to bank your kayak for lunch or to just stretch your legs.

Cody Green with a Shadow Lake Chunker
So the next time you want to go chase that personal best fish, don't dream of water in far away places. Head just across the north west border of Arkansas to one of the many small bodies of water in the area that hold some big bass.

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