May 3, 2023
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
HOT SPRINGS — Once the early morning thunderstorms had passed Saturday, the day turned out to be perfect for fishing and the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation’s 5th annual Commissioners’ Cup, presented by XPress Boats, on Lake Hamilton. Brothers Dakota and Dalton Reid, with their dad serving them as boat captain, had the biggest two-person haul of the day – 18.66 pounds with a five-bass stringer – to win the senior division.
The boys attend nearby Magnet Cove High School – Dalton is a senior and Dakota is a sophomore. Among their catch was the biggest bass of the tournament, a 6.8-pound largemouth. Their names will be added to the Commissioners’ Cup and the Big Bass trophies on display at the AGFC’s Little Rock headquarters.
Their winning $3,000 scholarship was funded by the current commissioners of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Commissioners J.D. Neeley and Anne Marie Doramus were on hand for the weigh-in and trophy presentation, which drew about 300 spectators, along with AGFC Deputy Director Ben Batten and Fisheries Chief Jason Olive. All fish weighed were recovered by AGFC biologists and returned to the lake.
Hunter Denton and Zane Cobb brought in a stringer totaling 14.37 pounds to win the junior division.
“We got a late start because of the lightning, but we got the tournament in and it turned out great. The brothers (the Reids), they are quite a good story,” Deke Whitbeck, the AGFF president, said.
The Reid brothers, who said they had never weighed a double-digit bass stringer until Saturday, were emotional at the weigh-in. Along with their trophies and scholarship, they also won a guided fishing trip with pro angler Scott Suggs and other merchandise.
“Three years ago when we started this, I never thought that I would stand up here with my brother, in this his senior year, and all I wanted to do this year was do something that we would never forget,” Dakota Reid said, with tears flowing. “Funny thing is, I’d say about 9:30 this morning, our bilge pump stopped working and we had all this water in our engine compartment. So we had to come back and drain the boat, put it on the trailer, drain it, and then go back out … and caught our fish … All the work has paid off, there’s not words for it.”
John Davis and Noah Yelich from Vilonia were the closest pursuers of the Reid brothers, catching 17.3 pounds of fish, nearly four pounds ahead of the nearest challengers, Cole Martin and Josh Bowen of Hot Springs Lakeside. The top three teams won scholarships funded by the AGFC commissioners, $2,000 going to second place and $1,000 to third.
Davis described his and Yelich’s successful pattern: “First thing this morning (we) started out on a Strike King 1.5 square bill and whenever the rain stopped and the front kind of moved out, they pushed out a little deeper, I fished a SPRO Rock Crawler and fishing 9-, 10-foot deep and (we were) catching them doing that.”
The event drew 120 youths to the AGFC’s Andrew Hulsey Fish Hatchery boat launch on Lake Hamilton, and more than $10,000 in scholarships and prizes were awarded at day’s end. Along with presenting sponsor Xpress Boats, Whitbeck noted major sponsors Bale Chevrolet and Trader Bill’s Outdoors. “The fishing industry always shows up big to support youth fishing and this tournament,” Whitbeck said.
2023 Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation Commissioners’ Cup presented by Xpress Boats
Place Team Weight (pounds)
1. Dakota Reid/Dalton Reid 18.66 (Biggest Bass, 6.8 pounds)
2. John Davis/ Noah Yelich 17.30
3. Cole Martin/Josh Bowen 13.78
4. Aaron Gabe/Logan Lanier 11.45
5. Bryer Payne/Baylor Payne 11.24
6. Ethan Jones/Maverick Kester 11.11
7. Kaleb Snow/Griffen Ralph 10.82
8. Vaughn Greenway/Barrett Rush 10.72
9. Mark Wilson/Jackson Skaggs 10.29
10. Hunter Fowler/Jarvis McCray 10.21
1.Hunter Denton/Zane Cobb 14.37
2.Halton Howard/Garrett Westfall 13.08
3. Eli Kluthe/Caiden Parson 12.88
4. Grayson Redleaf/Christian Dawson 10.7
5. Kasen Causey/Kayden Myatt 10.07
6. Luke Austin/Clay Austin 9.92
7. Bennett Bullard/Shad McClure 9.9
8. Henley Hayes/JC Freeman 9.16
9. Gricen Shelby/Kamden Green 8.71
10. Mason Watkins/Walker Woodall 8.6