Conway man leads 2012 Arkansas Big Bass Bonanza

LITTLE ROCK – On a day when most people would say it’s too hot to fish, Gary Hensley of Conway narrowly leads the Arkansas Big Bass Bonanza with a 5.94-pound bass he caught in the Dardanelle Pool of the Arkansas River. Hensley caught the fish in the 9 a.m. hour to take the overall lead on the first day of the three-day bass tournament.

Leaders in the other four pools are:

  • Les Irons of McGehee (5.93) – Dumas Pool
  • Craig Flowers of Midland (5.22) – Fort Smith Pool
  • Kelly Glover of Damascus (5.19) – Pine Bluff Pool
  • Bit LeQuieu of Alvord (4.51) – Little Rock/North Little Rock Pool

This year’s tournament will pay out $100,000 in guaranteed prize money. The top fish wins the angler $50,000, as well as a paid spot at the 2012 Bassmaster Open.

Each of the other four pool leaders will win a guaranteed $10,000 prize for catching the largest fish in each of the other pools. Additional prize money is awarded for the top three catches each hour, in each pool, $900 for second, $700 for third, $400 for fourth, and the Willow Leaf Award of $1,000 will be presented to the parent/child or grandparent/grandchild pair weighing the biggest fish during the three days. The amount of hourly prizes will be determined by the number of participants for the three days. New this year, the pool leaders from today will be awarded with a family pack to the 2012 Arkansas State Fair.

The annual tournament is the result of a 13-year partnership between the Arkansas Hospitality Association and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. The tournament spans more than 300 miles of the Arkansas River inside the state. The event is divided into five pools; tournament action will resume at 6 a.m. Saturday, with the final weigh-in Sunday at 1 p.m. Fishermen can register at any weigh-in location Saturday and Sunday. The grand prize and other cash awards will be presented during Sunday’s award ceremony at 4 p.m. at the Riverside RV Park in downtown North Little Rock.

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.   

For more information on the tournament and complete results, visit