With $50,000 in the balance, anglers are keyed-in to tournament results this weekend.

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (June 24, 2017) — Eric Nolen sat at the dock with a pair of headphones glued to his ears, and a smartphone streaming the weigh-in being held just a few feet away. “I’ve got one just under four pounds,” he says. “I’m waiting until 12:00 to weigh it in.”

Nolen’s game plan is part of the strategy of the Simmons Bank Big Bass Bonanza, which enters its second day of competition on the Arkansas River with the $50,000 grand prize, and $10,000 pool prizes still in doubt. Dumas, Arkansas angler Ricky Cantrell still holds the overall lead, with a 6.76-pound largemouth weighed in during the early hours on Friday, but fishermen and women across the state still have one more day to capture the checks.

Nolen is a 20-year Big Bass Bonanza veteran who says he doesn’t have to take the top prize to have a successful tournament. Still, he’s hoping to win an hourly payout of several hundred dollars for his troubles. “I won $1,000 once for winning an hourly weigh-in,” he tells. “I just go out there and bring in what I can. Then, I see what happens.”

Tournament officials say the hourly payout totals depend on the total number of participants, and aren’t announced until the final day of the tournament. Although their value remains unknown for much of the event, the rewards for bringing in a top three, hourly fish at each pool keep anglers alert to tournament standings. In addition, the top individual fish from each pool is guaranteed to bring home $10,000.

With pool stakes so high, many anglers keep track of those standings on the water, via a radio or a smartphone.

“I had a guy tell me a few minutes ago that he was listening to the iHeart app on the water,” says 95.7 KISSN FM broadcaster DJ Taylor, who’s covered the North Little Rock pool weigh-in for five years. “Occasionally, you get guys who come up and thank you for telling them what the leader fish was. They stay tuned-in out there.”

Leaders for each of the five pools, as of Saturday, are:

Pool 5/Dumas— Ricky Cantrell, 6.76 lbs
Pool 3/North Little Rock — Justin “Buck” Buchanan, 6.22 lbs
Pool 4/Pine Bluff— Steve Henderson, 6.05 lbs
Pool 2/Lake Dardanelle— Mark Cheatham, 6.99 lbs
Pool 1/Fort Smith— Brandon Rudolph, 5.76 lbs

The father-son duo of Brandon and Matthew Rudolph lead the Willow Leaf Award competition, given to the leading parent/child or grandparent/grandchild team. The Willow Leaf Award winner receives $1,000.

Academy Outdoors + Sports awarded five anglers prizes for catching a fish weighing exactly three pounds or exactly four pounds, depending on the hour. They were:
Pool 1 — Ryan Martin, 3 lbs
Pool 1 — Curtis Priest, 3 lbs
Pool 1 — Josh Day, 4 lbs
Pool 3 — Terry Rodgers, 4 lbs
Pool 5 — Joey Strode, 4 lbs

Three pound fish caught during the third weigh-in hour earn a $300 gift card, while four pound fish caught during the fourth weigh-in hour earn a $400 gift card.

Youth 6-8 Standings Are:
1st —Luke Hackney, 4.43 lbs
2nd—Haley Rodgers, 3.95 lbs
3rd— Matthew Higby, 3.1 lbs

Youth 9-12 Standings are
1st —Brandon Ward, 5.53 lbs
2nd—Daniel Shopher, 4.5 lbs
3rd— Tate Trip, 4.09 lbs

Complete results for all anglers are available at ArkansasBigBass.com/results.

The tournament spans more than 300 miles of eligible fishing waters on the river inside the state’s borders.  The event is divided into five pools, and tournament action will resume at 6 a.m. Saturday morning with the final weigh-in being held Sunday at 1 p.m. Fishermen can still register at any weigh-in location Saturday and Sunday.  The grand prize and other cash awards will be presented during Sunday’s award event, which will begin at 4 p.m. at the Downtown Riverside R.V. Park Pavillion near the Verizon Arena boat ramp.

The five weigh-in sites are: Pool 1 – Clear Creek Park, Fort Smith; Pool 2 – Dardanelle State Park/Russellville side; Pool 3 – North Little Rock/Verizon Ramp; Pool 4 – Regional Park/ Pine Bluff; and Pool 5 – Pendleton Bridge/east of Dumas.

Major sponsors of the tournament are, Simmons Bank, Academy Sports + Outdoors, Arkansas Game & Fish Commission and Hardee’s Saddle Peak. Other sponsors include Raymarine, St. Croix Rods, BUFF®, LIVETARGET Lures, BaitCloud, Heart of Arkansas, North Little Rock Visitors Bureau, Pine Bluff Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Russellville Advertising & Promotions.