RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. (May 3, 2021) – The Toyota Series presented by A.R.E. Plains Division will kick off its third and final event of the 2021 season with a tournament next week in Russellville, Arkansas, May 6-8, with the Toyota Series Presented by A.R.E. at Lake Dardanelle Presented by Fenwick . Hosted by the Russellville Advertising & Promotion Commission, the three-day tournament will feature the region’s best bass-fishing pros and Strike King co-anglers casting for a top prize of up to $65,000, plus an additional $35,000 bonus if the winner is a qualified Phoenix Boat owner.
Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit pro Jason Lieblong has two Toyota Series wins on Dardanelle to his credit and knows the fishery about as well as anyone. With most of the bass done spawning, the Arkansas pro believes the fishing will be pretty diverse.
“The water is clearing up, and the river flow is dropping,” said Lieblong. “The bite ought to be good on the river parts, whether you lock down or go on up to Ozark. That’s going to take some pressure off the backwater areas and Illinois Bayou. The river stuff could be better than the lower end stuff – I’ll definitely be looking at it in practice.”
Dardanelle has a reputation as a junk fishing lake, where putting a good spread of rods on deck and a flexible attitude will do you a lot of good. Lieblong said he thinks that could be a good strategy again.
“The willow grass should be greening up, so it’ll be good enough to run swim jigs in it, and for ChatterBaits, frogs and buzzbaits,” said Lieblong. “The lily pads will still be pretty early, but there will be some places where they’re coming in on the river – the frog bite will be good this week. Plus, the shad spawn will be going on in some places too, so square-bills, spinnerbaits and ChatterBaits will also be a big play.”
In addition to a slew of shallow options, Lieblong said he thinks a few fish will be in play offshore on the lower end.
“I’ve seen some tournaments in the past with warm springs when they’ve caught them pretty good on shell beds and drop offs in May,” said Lieblong. “So, they’re going to catch some fish off them, and some of the locals have been out dropping brush.”
Despite a lot of recent tournament pressure, Lieblong said he thinks the fishing will be good and 44 to 46 pounds will win.
“Everyone is fishing, and I’m glad that they are, but they’re having fundraisers and high school events on Dardanelle every week it seems like,” said Lieblong. “It may not be as easy as everybody thinks, but everybody is going to catch some fish – all in all, it’ll be a fun tournament.”
Anglers will take off daily at 6 a.m. CT from Lake Dardanelle State Park. Weigh-ins will also be held at the park and will begin at 2 p.m. Attendance is limited to competing anglers and essential staff only. Fans are encouraged to follow the event online through the “MLF Live” weigh-in broadcasts and daily coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
In Toyota Series regular-season competition, payouts are based on the number of participants competing in the event, scaling up for every 20 boats over 160 and scaling down for every boat below 160. With a 160-boat field, pros fish for a top prize of $40,000, plus an extra $35,000 if Phoenix MLF BIG5 Bonus qualified. Strike King co-anglers cast for the top prize of a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard (valued at $33,500). With a 260-boat field, pros fish for a top award of $65,000, plus an extra $35,000 if Phoenix MLF BIG5 Bonus qualified. Strike King co-anglers cast for the top prize of a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower outboard (valued at $33,500) plus $5,000 cash.
The 2021 Toyota Series presented by A.R.E. consists of six divisions – Central, Northern, Plains, Southern, Southwestern and Western – each holding three regular-season events, along with the International division. Anglers who fish all three qualifiers in any of the eight divisions and finish in the top 25 will qualify for the no-entry-fee Toyota Series presented by A.R.E. Championship for a shot at winning $235,000 cash, including a $35,000 Phoenix MLF BIG5 Bonus for qualified anglers. The winning Strike King co-angler at the championship earns a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard. The 2021 Toyota Series Championship presented by A.R.E. will be held Oct. 28-30 on Pickwick Lake in Counce, Tennessee, and is hosted by the Hardin County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
For complete details and updated information visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Toyota Series presented by A.R.E. on the MLF BIG5’s social media outlets at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.