The 2018 Bass Cat Owners Invitational, the 31st consecutive annual tournament in the series, kicked off on Friday with 391 teams tackling Lake Norfork. They were greeted by warm temperatures and cloudy skies, but also heavy winds that were consistently in the 10 to 20 mile per hour range, with gusts up to 30. The Arkansas team of Steve Isley and Phillip Isley led the way with five healthy bass that totaled 14.61 pounds.
The Isleys won’t be able to coast to victory, as they seek to claim the Bass Cat Margay and custom built trailer that make up the top prize. There are 11 teams within 3 pounds of their lead, and another 15 less than 4 pounds out.
Kyle Presley and Justin Yarbrough sit in second with 13.03. Jay Hardcastle and Dusty Hardcastle are in third with 13.01. A single quality bite, combined with a slip-up by the Isleys, could vault any one of a number of teams into the winner’s circle.
“I’ve observed a couple hundred tournaments on Norfork over the years,” said Bass Cat President Rick Pierce. “Today was the first day that the dogwoods popped and the fish made a significant move shallow. I expect that with the changing weather, it’ll be hard to repeat tomorrow, and there will be lots of shuffling on the standings.”
On the heels of today’s balmy conditions, significant storms are expected tonight and tomorrow the mercury won’t rise past 60 degrees. The sun will make its presence known, which typically makes Norfork tough, but the continued presence of the wind will help anglers who use it to their advantage.
This event features a payback of over 300%, with the Grand Prize of a fully-rigged complete with a Mercury 250 Pro XS, Humminbird electronics and a Minn Kota trolling motor going to one randomly selected team. In addition to the two boats, there will be numerous wild card prizes given out for categories including biggest Ozark Bass and biggest walleye. Today’s leaders in those categories were the Lipton/Betz team with a 1.02 pound Ozark Bass and the Lucas/Ransom team with a 4.41 pound walleye.
About Bass Cat: Bass Cat, owned by Correct Craft, manufactures the industry’s premier bass fishing boats from its headquarters in Mountain Home, Arkansas. Family operated since it’s founding in 1971, Bass Cat is the longest continuously operating tournament bass boat company in the United States. For more information visit www.basscat.com.
About Correct Craft: Celebrating 93 years of excellence in the marine industry, Correct Craft is a Florida-based company with global operations. The Correct Craft family includes Nautique, Centurion, Supreme, Bass Cat, Yar-Craft, SeaArk, and Bryant boat companies, Pleasurecraft Marine Engine Group, and Aktion Parks. For more information please visit www.correctcraft.com.