Official Rules

Arkansas’ Largest Amateur Fishing Tournament

This tournament is for amateur anglers. If you consider yourself a professional fisherman, or if the majority or big portion of your annual income is received from prize money won in tournaments, income received from sponsors, and other fees and income derived from fishing, you are ineligible to fish this event.

Early Registration Incentive

Entries received on or before Friday, September 6th, will be eligible to win Early Bird prizes of cash or merchandise.

2019 Tournament Schedule

Friday, October, 11th
6 a.m. Fishermen, cast your lines
8 a.m. First hourly weigh-in
9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Hourly weigh-ins at the top of the hour

Saturday, October, 12th
6 a.m. Fishermen, cast your lines
8 a.m. First hourly weigh-in
9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Hourly weigh-ins at the top of the hour

Sunday, October, 13th
6 a.m. Fishermen, cast your lines
8 a.m. First hourly weigh-in
9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Hourly weigh-ins at the top of the hour

Awards Ceremony

Sunday, 4-5:30 p.m., Rocky City Yacht Club. 1726 East 2nd Street, Little Rock. Behind the Clinton Library

All tournament participants are invited to the awards ceremony located near the weigh-in site for Pool 3. Indicate if you will attend on your entry form.

Tournament Rules

This event is sponsored by The Arkansas Hospitality Association. Hereinafter, for the purpose of reference, they will be referred to as “sponsor.”

The Simmons Bank Big Bass Bonanza of Arkansas will be contested in five separate pools for the purpose of paying hourly prizes. Eligible water will include nearly 300 miles on the Arkansas River, all within the boundaries of the state of Arkansas.

Pool Boundaries

Pool #1: Downriver from the Garrison Ave. bridge near Fort Smith to the upriver side of Ozark Lock and Dam (mile marker 257).

Pool #2: Downriver from Ozark Lock and Dam #12 to the upriver side of Ormond Lock and Dam #9.

Pool #3: Downriver from Ormond Lock and Dam to the upriver side of Terry Lock and Dam #6.

Pool #4: Downriver from Terry Lock and Dam to the upriver side of Hardin Lock & Dam #3.

Pool #5: Downriver from Hardin Lock and Dam to the upriver side of Lock #2 and Dam #2.

General Rules

1. All local, state, federal, Coast Guard and Arkansas Game and Fish regulations shall apply and must be observed at all times during the tournament.


(a) All boats must have running lights if you are on the water before daylight.

(b) All contestants must wear a securely fastened Coast Guard-approved life vest when the main engine is in use.

(c) All boats must have an operating kill switch attached to the operator while the main internal combustion engine is operating.

(d) All boats must be equipped with an operating live well. (An aerator in an ice chest is acceptable)

(e) Contestants must have a valid Arkansas fishing license in their possession unless exempt.

(f) All tournament boats my be inspected by tournament officials upon request.

2. All applications for entry, determination of winners, and rights to awards and prizes are subject to the approval of tournament officials.

3. If a contestant is disqualified for rules violations, all other contestants in his boat will also be disqualified.

4. Protests must be registered in writing with the pool weighmaster within 30 minutes of the dispute. Decisions will be communicated to the parties involved by the pool weighmaster.

5. The sponsor of this event expressly reserves the right to accept or reject any entry form

6. A $100 bonus will be awarded to anyone who is an hourly winner that has previously purchased and is wearing a 2019 Big Bass t-shirt and cap at weigh-in. It must also be marked on your registration form that you have purchased a hat and shirt. A limited number of t-shirts and hats will be available this year, so it is first come first serve. Register early so you will be eligible to win the $100 bonus if you are an hourly winner.

Launching and Fishing Rules

7. All contestants must gain access to their fishing area on the Arkansas River by launching their boats from:

(a) a hard surface public ramp or marina slip on the Arkansas River.

(b) a designated Corps of Engineers camp ground or launching area.

(c) launching ramps on the Arkansas River which are maintained by state or local government agencies.

(d) private boat docks or hard surface ramps in Arkansas River backwater can be used by the property owner for launching. Examples: Homeowners on Lake Langhofer near Pine Bluff and Piney Creek, Spadra Creek and Illinois Bayou off Lake Dardanelle.

8. Any backwater that can be accessed from the Arkansas River by floating your boat into the area without getting out of your boat is eligible water.

Note: Truax Lake and Echubby Lake in Pool #5, commonly referred to as “Massey Ole River,” is off limits for this event.

9. No casting or fishing allowed before 6 a.m. either day of the event. Final weigh-ins will be at 1 p.m. each day.

10. You can fish all pools during the tournament. However, you are required to weigh your fish at the weigh-in site for the pool in which the fish was caught. You may pull your boat out and trailer to the weigh-in site.

11. Official time shall be broadcast by one or more commercial radio stations to be identified.

12. Only largemouth, smallmouth and Kentucky spotted bass (black bass) will be eligible to be weighed in.

13. All fishing will be done with a rod and reel and artificial lures only. The use of pork rind is acceptable. No trolling is permitted.

14. A non-contestant can ride in a boat with a contestant. However, the non-contestant cannot fish, drive the boat, or assist the contestant by netting a fish, etc. The only exception is for a participant registered in the youth division (6th grade-12 grade) to be allowed to have a designated non-contestant boat driver.

15. No contestant is permitted to fish nearer than 50 yards to another contestant’s boat that is anchored, unless permission is received, or 100 yards either side of each pool weigh-in site.

16. Fish must be weighed the same day as caught. Dead fish will not be weighed.

17. Each contestant is allowed to have a total of two (2) fish in their possession at any given time during the tournament. Fish entered in the hourly contests do not carry over from hour to hour. Only the largest fish per contestant is eligible to win an overall prize.

18. No electronic tracking devices (implanted microchips) may be used to locate fish for tournament purposes. However, depth-finders and graph charts are acceptable.

19. No contestants can have more than one (1) fish in a weigh-in bag and cannot weigh more than one fish per tournament hour. Tournament weigh-in bags will be provided.

20. Any artificially weighted or preserved bass will be disqualified and that contestant will be subject to prosecution under state and federal law.

21. No fish under 16 inches in length (measured on a flat board) will be weighed in.

22. A tie for the overall biggest bass will be determined by which angler weighed-in the winning fish first.

23. All fish weighed in each day automatically become the property of the tournament committee and will, if possible, be returned live and healthy to the Arkansas River.

Rules Governing Tournament Integrity

24. Tournament integrity will be protected by polygraph tests administered on a random basis. Contestants must pass these tests.

25. Each contestant, by signing the entry form, agrees to submit to polygraph testing and/or a drug scan.

26. Polygraph tests will be randomly administered to hourly winners in each pool at the end of each hour of the tournament.

27. Use of alcohol and/or illegal drugs is strictly prohibited. Any contestant determined by polygraph examination or by tournament officials to have consumed alcohol or illegal drugs, or to have an illegal substance in their possession or in their boat during tournament hours, is in violation of tournament rules and will be disqualified.

28. Any violations of rules are subject to prosecution under State and Federal law.

29. Unsportsman like conduct can be grounds for disqualification and will be at the discretion of tournament officials.

Legal Concerns

30. All tournament contestants, by their entry applications, shall grant permission to the tournament sponsors and to their agents the right to publicize and/or broadcast his/her name, character likeness or voice, and fact that he/she was a participant and/or prize winner and all other matters incidental thereto. If a participant is a minor (under age 18), a parent or legal guardian shall be required to grant such permission as part of the entry procedure for the minor.

31. The tournament sponsor, officers, employees, agents, etc., will not be responsible for boating or water accidents. Each tournament contestant shall be solely responsible for his/her actions with regard to inclement weather or any other potentially dangerous situation which may arise. The contestant or non-contestant expressly assumes the risk of any and all damage or injury of any nature which may result from any source whatsoever during the tournament. Should any contestant be a minor, a parent or legal guardian shall grant such release on the part of the minor.

32. All tournament contestants, by their entry applications, shall grant to the sponsor and its officers, employees, and agents, unconditional release of any liability of personal injury, death, damaged, lost or stolen property, or accidents.

33. Any property that is posted during normal water conditions cannot be entered during periods of high water.

34. All tournament contestants must read and sign the form entitled “Waiver and Release ” that is printed on the back of the entry form. Your signature on this form will constitute a certification that the contestant has read and understood the “Waiver and Release” form. All terms of the “Waiver and Release” form are hereby incorporated by reference into these rules in the same manner as if the terms of the “Waiver and Release” form were printed verbatim in these rules.

Pool Weigh-In Sites

Pool #1: Fort Smith – Clear Creek Park
Click here for a Google Map

Pool #2: Dardanelle State Park, Russellville Side
Click here for a Google Map

Pool #3: Rocky City Yacht Club. Located down river from the Clinton Library, Little Rock.
Click here for a Google Map

Pool #4: Pine Bluff Regional Park.
Click here for a Google Map

Pool #5: Pendleton Bridge located 9.5 miles east of Dumas on Hwy. 165.
Click here for a Google Map

Daily Weigh-Ins- Beginning each day at 8 a.m. and ending at 1 p.m.

Polygraph tests will be given hourly at each pool. If you are selected for a polygraph test you must take it before resuming fishing.

Other Important Information

  1. To win hourly bonuses, you must have purchased and be wearing an official 2019 tournament t-shirt and cap and it MUST be listed on your registration form.
  2. For those registering by mail or the Internet, your credentials and anything else you purchase will be mailed from the Arkansas Hospitality Association.
  3. If you have questions about the tournament you may call us at 501-376-2323.
  4. The Simmons Bank Big Bass Bonanza of Arkansas will continue the tradition established by King Cotton Sports, Inc., and allow past overall winners to fish free.

Distribution of Prize Money – Format for 2019

For the distribution of any prize money awarded: Pool 1 (Fort Smith), Pool 2 (Russellville-Dardanelle), Pool 3 (Little Rock/North Little Rock), and Pool 4 (Pine Bluff) and Pool 5 (Pendelton Bridge, 9.5 miles east of Dumas).

  • $100,000 in Prize Money GUARANTEED
  • Overall Winner — $50,000 to the largest overall fish GUARANTEED.
  • Pool Money — $10,000 to the largest fish overall in each of the remaining four pools GUARANTEED.
  • Place Money per Pool — $900 to 2nd place, $700 to 3rd place and $400 to 4th place winner overall in each of the five pools GUARANTEED.
  • The tournament is guaranteeing $100,000 in cash prizes and additional hourly money is awarded based on the number of fishermen. A guaranteed $50,000 is going to the fisherman that hauls in the biggest bass overall, and a guaranteed $40,00 will be distributed among the anglers who catch the largest fish in the four (4) remaining weigh-in pools. The final $10,000 of guaranteed money will be place money for all five pools. Hourly prize money for first, second and third place will be the top priority to pay after guaranteed prize. The amount will be determined by the number of registrants.

In addition, hourly winners who purchase and are wearing an official 2019 tournament T-shirt and cap and it must be listed on your registration form will receive a $100 bonus. The number of T-shirts and hats are limited, first come first serve.

Willow Leaf Award – $1,000 cash to parent/child or grandparent/grandchild weighing largest bass. You are eligible if the child or grandchild is under 22 years of age. Both must be registered in the tournament to qualify for the prize.

• 6th grade through 8th grade (what grade did the angler start August 2019) –
1st, 2nd and 3rd place prizes.
• 9th grade through 12th grade (what grade did the angler start this August 2019) –
1st, 2nd and 3rd place prizes.

Tell your weigh-master if you are eligible!

Past Overall Champs Fish Free

Past Champions

  • 1989 – Steve Hardin, Dexter, MO (8.95 lbs.)
  • 1990 – Larry Franks, Lufkin, TX (7.36 lbs.)
  • 1991 – Calvin Johnson, Pine Bluff, AR (7.71 lbs.)
  • 1992 – William Jasper, Memphis, TN (6.78 lbs.)
  • 1993 – Don Botsford, Portland, AR (7.91 lbs.)
  • 1994 – Charlie Brotherton, Wappapallo, MO (7.12 lbs.)
  • 1995 – Pool A – W.M. Browne, Pine Bluff, AR (5.61 lbs.)
  • Pool B – Tony Nesterenko, Little Rock, AR (7.07 lbs.)
  • 1996 – Pool A – Tim Land, Hope, AR (5.87 lbs.)
  • Pool B – Jerry Propst, Fernley, NV (6.87 lbs.)
  • 1997 – Pool A – Chad Selman, Pine Bluff, AR (6.09 lbs.)
  • Pool B – Sidney Sullivant, Star City, AR (8.12 lbs.)
  • 1998 – Pool A – Jeremy Ricker, Pine Bluff, AR (6.43 lbs.)
  • Pool B – Ronnie Rogers, Rison, AR (8.29 lbs.)
  • 1999 – Pool A – Terry Stewart, Conway, AR (6.31 lbs.)
  • Pool B – Donnie Colvard, Murfreesboro, TN (6.76 lbs.)
  • 2000 – Steve Scherrey, Conway, AR (6.76 lbs.)
  • 2001 – Jim Quillman, Plano, TX (Overall) (5.89 lbs.)
  • Pool A – Dennis Moore, Little Rock, AR (5.58 lbs)
  • 2002 – Clay Guinn, Conway, AR (Overall) (6.21 lbs.)
  • Pool A – Frank Holden, Fayetteville, AR (4.8 lbs.)
  • 2003 – Earl Wilson, Plumerville, AR; (overall)(6.9 lbs.)
  • 2004 – Brian Gorman, Hampton, AR (Overall) (6.68 lbs.)
  • Pool A – James Lee Snell, Jr. Van Buren, AR (5.58 lbs.)
  • Pool A – Scott Webb, Pontotoc, MS (6.34 lbs.)
  • 2005 – Eric Andrews, London, AR (overall) (6.59 lbs.)
  • Pool A -Donnie Tedford, Westfork, AR (5.92 lbs.)
  • 2006 – Darby Stiles, Royal Oak, AR; (overall) (8.51 lbs.)
  • Pool A -Tyler Powers, Lavaca, AR (6.06 lbs.)
  • 2007 – Johnny Holder, Hot Springs, AR (6.33lbs.)
  • 2008 – Duke Gunnell, Benton, AR (8.14lbs.)
  • 2009 – John Higman, Evansville, AR (7.30lbs.)
  • 2010 – Nicholas Warden, Beebe, AR (6.62lbs.)
  • 2011 – Patrick Chapman, Parkdale, AR (6.81lbs.)
  • 2012 – David Shopher, McGehee, AR (6.27)
  • 2013 – Jonathon Swink, Devalls Bluff, AR (6.63)
  • 2014 – Steve Scherrey, Conway, AR (6.98)
  • 2015 – Robinette Fox, Hot Springs, AR (7.15)
  • 2016 – Herbert Holman, Delaware, AR (7.25)
  • 2017 – Ricky Cantrell, Dumas, AR (6.76)
  • 2018 – Billy Holeman, Jr, Camden, AR (6.03)