|Updated: 7/02/2012 10:03 am
||Published: 7/01/2012 7:27 pm
Arkansas' largest amateur big bass tournament on the Arkansas River is over, and one man walked away with the $50,000 prize.
The Arkansas Big Bass Bonanza spans 300 miles of eligible fishing from Fort Smith to Dumas. David Shopher of McGehee caught a 6.27 pound largemouth bass using a Tennessee shad-colored crank bait.
This year's tournament proves just how wildly popular the sport of fishing is. Nearly 2,000 fishermen spent the weekend on the water trying to lure the biggest largemouth bass of them all. Executive Director of the Arkansas Hospitality Association Montine McMulty says it's like the Super Bowl of fishing in Arkansas.
$188,000 in prize money is awarded, but only one can take top bragging rights. Shopher says if you don't ever fish, you'll never win, and win he did. Shopher has been fishing for 23 years, and says he always went home from the tournament wishing he had won. This year, he says his dream came true. "Before I caught him this morning, I lost 5 more fish that weighed between 4 and 5 pounds. I couldn't understand why they kept coming off. The 6th one was the one, so I guess it was a higher power maybe."
Shopher says he had no doubt the 6.27 pounder would win the $50,000 prize. He says it's the catch of the lifetime. "I'm a taxidermist, so one day next week I'm going to get a fiberglass blank so that way I'll have something on the wall from that fish."
Shopher says he plans to put the money in the bank, but explains that it's not all his to keep. "When my wife and I got married, she knew I fished, and I told her anytime I won a tournament I'd give her half and I'd keep half."
Shopher says his wife plans to go shopping, but his 10-year-old son is also looking to get a cut. Danny Shopher wants a four wheeler.
Shopher says he is coming back to the Arkansas Big Bass Bonanza again next year, and hopes it doesn't take him another 23 years to win the tournament.