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Dardanelle Memories

The first time I ever heard of Dardanelle Reservoir was when my uncle, Lee Baker, moved here. He was one of my favorite uncles because he fished, for bass even. I was about 14 years old when he showed my brother, Keith, and me how to fillet fish. This was before Ray Scott even thought of Catch and Release of course, and we ate most of the fish we caught. I had heard of this method of cleaning fish, but most of the ones we caught were more like “pan sized” anyway so there was little need to filet them. As a matter of fact most were fried with just the head and guts removed and they fit easily into a pan, usually a rather small one at that.

When he occasionally came to visit, Uncle Lee made me insanely jealous by telling me of the great bass fishing in the new reservoir at Russelville, AR. I always wanted to visit him to sample the fishing here, but between girls, cars and other interests, the opportunity never arose. I did however, become pretty adept at filleting fish thereafter thanks to his tutelage.

The next time I took interest in Dardanelle was in 1985 when Tammy entered the arena of competitive bass fishing. She entered the Bass-n-Gal tour and one of the stops that year was at the D. I remember the event took place during the summer months and after a couple days of practice she and I found a couple of spots which seemed to hold enough fish for her to be competitive.

And competitive she was. She finished third place and might have won the event if a bass had not broken her heart and line down in a brush pile. She made one final stop near the weigh-in site and had the strike on a plastic worm. The bass down in the woodpile left her pretty disappointed, to say the least. It always hurts to lose a big fish, but in a tournament it really leaves a mark. We were good friends with Charlie and Vojai Reed and afterwards Tammy sat in the Reeds’ boat with Vojai who helped try to console her.

There were five events on the Bass-n-Gal tour that year as I recall, and Tammy only got to fish three of them. It turned out she was pregnant with the Twins during the year and was unable to finish the season. In spite of her shortened season, she was named “Rookie of the Year” because of her three money finishes. We are very proud of her “rookie” year on the B-n-G tour.

The arrival of Hunter and Tanner the following January put at least a temporary end to her competitive angling career. She is still one of the most naturally talented anglers I have ever encountered and one can only imagine how far she might have gone down the tournament trail under a different set of circumstances. She thinks outside the box of conventional angling wisdom and finds unusual (which is a nice way of saying weird) things that work when bass do not want to bite the standard stuff.

I do know this; Hunter and Tanner have definitely been worth the change of plans. They are on their way to making positive changes in the world. Their aspirations in the Medical field are a tremendous blessing to all, especially their proud parents.

This week, I finally get my opportunity to compete on Dardanelle. I will give my best effort in hopes of finishing as well as Tammy did on her first try. Maybe Uncle Lee is watching and can show me some of his old honey holes. I will be looking that’s for sure.

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