June 22, 2022
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
ROYAL – The Hot Springs youth fishing duo of Xander Cobb and Eli Rowton hauled in 10.52 pounds with a five-bass stringer to win the Senior Division of the 4th Annual Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation Commissioners’ Cup presented by Xpress Boats, held last Saturday on Lake Ouachita.
More than 100 young anglers competed in the event, the largest field in the four-year history of the tournament, according to Deke Whitbeck, president of the AGFF. The tournament used Brady Mountain Safe Harbor as the take-off and weigh-in location.
“We presented over $10,000 in scholarships and prizes that were up for grabs as the anglers battled sweltering heat and high water temperatures,” Whitbeck said. “Over 200 pounds of fish were weighed in after the eight-hour tournament.”
Cobb and Rowton each netted $1,500 in scholarship money donated by Arkansas Game and Fish Commissioners.
Zane Cobb, Xander’s brother, and Hunter Denton from Hot Springs led the Junior Division, catching 11.73 pounds of bass. The junior winners took home a generous swag bag filled with the latest and greatest gear, including tackle, lures and rods and reels, Whitbeck said.
Walker Woodall of Benton earned the Big Bass Trophy by hooking a 4.97-pound largemouth.
Other top finishers in the Senior Division were the second-place team of Asa Chism and Trace Reed, while Brandon Gabe and Tucker Dottley had a third-place showing. Top junior finishers included the second-place team of Grayson Redleaf and Trystin O'Neal, with the third place in juniors going to Mason Watkins and Walker Woodall.
“The event continues to grow, and we’re so grateful for all of the sponsors who step up and help to deliver a first-class tournament for these kids,” Whitbeck said. “Because of the overwhelming support, we were able to give prizes to the Top 10 finishers in each division.
“We’re also so grateful for all of the volunteers and our friends from Trader Bill’s in Hot Springs who put in countless hours ensuring the event went smoothly.”
Whitbeck added that the “true unsung heroes of youth fishing” are the teams’ boat captains. “These are the mentors who actually take the kids out on the water for each and every tournament – including the Commissioners’ Cup – devoting time, energy and effort getting young people engaged in the sport. Without their leadership, the tournaments would not be possible.”