Skip to main content

Arkansas bass tournaments tally solid statistics in 2023

BY Randy Zellers

ON 02-28-2024

bass tournament

LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Black Bass Program has released the latest annual report from the Arkansas Tournament Information Program, and anglers may want to take note of some highlights as they prepare to hit the water this spring.

Jeremy Risley, BBP coordinator for the AGFC, explained that ATIP reports are derived from data voluntarily submitted by tournament directors throughout the state. Tournament weights, number of anglers, numbers of fish caught and numbers of fish over 5 pounds are submitted to the AGFC. Biologists compile those details to derive some interesting notes about Arkansas’s more popular tournament fishing locations. Tournament statistics can vary based on a number of factors, but biologists can still use some of the data for management decisions.“We can use the catch rates of 5-pound bass in tournaments to help make decisions on stocking Florida bass, for instance,” Risley said. “ATIP data alone won’t drive those decisions, but it definitely plays a part in the decision-making process.”

For the third year in a row, Lake Nimrod stood out as the top destination for bass tournaments. The lake is too small and the surrounding area doesn’t have the hotels and other facilities to handle most large tournaments, but it’s become a regular stop for most small and mid-sized bass clubs in central Arkansas.

“Nimrod has really only been high in the rankings during the last few years,” Risley said. “Mainly because there haven’t been enough tournament cards turned in from it to get data that’s comparable to the rest of the lakes on the list.”

Anglers focused on larger lakes and larger bass tournaments should know most of the lakes rounding out the top five for 2023: Millwood Lake, Lake Chicot, Lake Ouachita and Bull Shoals Lake.

Risley also added some noteworthy highlights and a “State of Arkansas Tournament Fishing” in this year’s report to give some added insight into where the Black Bass Program is headed.

“Sharing the data with our anglers is great, but it’s also important to keep that line of communication open to keep them in the loop about what those numbers mean, how we work to interpret the data and what we are doing to improve the resource,” Risley said.

Some notable statistics from last year’s tournaments include:

  • Fifteen tournaments reported winning weights over 20 pounds, with a Trader Bill’s Team Tournament at Lake Ouachita in February having the largest bag, 29.74 pounds.

  • The largest fish reported during tournaments in 2023 was a 12.56-pound largemouth caught at Lake Hamilton during a Brooks Marine Tuesday Night Tournament in August. It was one of six fish over 10 pounds to be weighed in 2023.

  • The average first-place winning weight for all lakes and tournaments in 2023 was 14.39 pounds, slightly lower than 2022 (14.70 pounds).

Risley hopes more tournament trails contribute to the report in 2024, which will improve the data immensely. About 64 percent of the data came from AGFC Black Bass Program staff searching social media and internet sites to dig up results.

“We don’t mind doing the work, but this really is one of the few ways tournament anglers can contribute to the data we collect,” Risley said. “They can’t go out and electrofish or do samples for us, but they can send in their tournament results and be a part of the process. The more data we have from fellow bass anglers, the more pieces we have to complete the puzzle.”

Tournament anglers can send their results to the BBP through an electronic form at Most entries should take less than a few minutes to complete.

“Most of the data we need is already being collected, it’s just a matter of turning it in. Add in the number of 5-pound and larger fish caught in the tournament. It’s honestly just a matter of sending in the information.”

Visit for more information on the Black Bass Program and the AGFC’s efforts on black bass management in Arkansas.



Anglers weighing their fish during the Mr. Bass of Arkansas tournament on Greer’s Ferry Lake in February. Photo courtesy of Trader Bill’s Team Trail.

Largemouth bass are the most pursued species of fish in Arkansas. Photo courtesy of Trader Bill’s Team Trail.

Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter E-mails

Don’t miss another issue. Sign up now to receive the AGFC Wildlife Weekly Newsletter in your mailbox every Wednesday afternoon (Waterfowl Reports are published weekly during waterfowl season and periodically outside the season). Fishing Reports arrive on Thursdays. Fill in the following fields and hit submit. Thanks, and welcome!