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Event Article

Going Savage on Arkansas Stripers at Lake Ouachita


Date: 11/13/13
Tackle Type: Reels, Rods, Lures
Manufacturer: Okuma, Savage Gear
Reviewer: Lake Ouachita, Arkansas
Reviewer: Zander


Introduction: Okuma reels have always been considered a good value but over the last few seasons the company has made huge strides in moving up the performance spectrum with tournament ready reels and rods. While the brand has long been known for their spinning reels the new Citrix, Komodo, Helios and Helios Air reels demonstrate the company’s commitment to delivering feature rich refined baitcasters. In addition to continually advancing their reels and rods the addition of Savage Gear to their U.S. lineup is a interesting component, adding depth to the company’s total offerings.


Prior to the event Okuma sent us a package with a few reels and baits to pre-spool as well as some jerseys, so we put them to use as we got excited for the upcoming trip


Not long after ICAST we were contacted by Brandon Cotton, Marketing Manager at Okuma to see if we would have interest pitting their newest reels, rods and Savage Gear baits against some big freshwater Stripers. The destination, Lake Ouachita Arkansas, a famous lake that is known for its clean water and healthy habitat for a wide range of fish species including Crappie, Walleye, Catfish, Bream, Largemouth and Striped Bass.


Our home base for the trip, a houseboat on Lake Ouachita


Lake Ouachita was created in the ate 1940’s when the Blakely Mountain Dam was built on the Ouachita River, and is still in use today creating hydroelectric power for the region. Ouachita is the largest lake completely within Arkansas and has a surface area of 40,000 acres and an average depth of 50 feet, and with 690 miles of shoreline there are plenty of cuts and fingers for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy. Lake Ouachita routinely ranks on the list of cleanest lakes in the United States and is even home to rare jellyfish and sponges that are found in only very few of the cleanest freshwater lakes. Scuba divers come here to explore the underwater environment but we were here for one reason, to catch Stripers, and hopefully giant ones.


Brandon introduces us to our home away from home, not too shabby at all


To access the lake we flew in to Little Rock, Arkansas and drove into a town called Hot Springs. This is the 11th most populous city in Arkansas and as you might have guessed there are plenty of natural thermal springs in the area. These days many people know this town as the childhood home of President Bill Clinton. Lake Ouachita is the crown jewel of the region and the minute you step off the plane you are greeted with various advertisements to resorts on the lake.


We break out the tackle and get to "work"


This region is very fish friendly and there are plenty of tackle shops and number of guides specializing in targeting different species. Lake Ouachita has often been described as the Striped Bass Capital of the United States, and there is a healthy stocking program in effect to maintain the sportfish population.


Brandon and Mike brought plenty of new 3D Trout and Line Thru swimbaits


After meeting up with Brandon Cotton, and Mike Bennett, Savage Gear Product Manager, at Little Rock we head straight to the lake. Our home base for the trip was a luxury houseboat right on the bank of Ouachita. Here Brandon broke out all the tackle he had prepared for us. We had packed a number of our favorite striper lures but we should have known that Okuma was going to gear us up. “We brought a few of our newest Savage Gear swimbaits for this trip,” Brandon said as he proceeded to pour out over 50 swimbaits of varying sizes and types in various trout and shad patterns.


Rigging up the gear and getting ready for battle


In terms of reels and rods for lure fishing Okuma prepared rods in their Helios, Shadow Stalker and EVx line and the reels we would be using for the trip were the Citrix, Komodo and new Helios Air baitcasters. We spooled the Citrix and Komodo reels up with 40 and 30lb. test monofilament and 12lb. fluorocarbon on the magnesium based Helios Air for more finesse applications, and just in case we ran into any green fish.


A mount of a massive 50lb Lake Ouachita Striper graced the living room


Next Section: Rigged up and ready to fish









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