Families and fishing enthusiasts descended in droves on Felsenthal, Arkansas for the 2011 version of the town’s Bream Festival and Tournament, May 27 and 28. The town sits next door to the Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge which has some fine camping facilities, all of which were occupied.
There is one small motel in town, Tracks Inn, which was at capacity. Otherwise you needed to figure some driving time into your festival plans. At this point in this epistle, may I suggest that you to to the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com and see pictures and read where this story started. We’ll wait here.
Eighty two boats were registered for the tournament, a good turnout, I was told. Most of those boats had two competitors aboard. Winners were determined by the team weighing its heaviest 20 fish.
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At the weigh-in, the heaviest team catch when the time I was there was 8-1/2 pounds which figures out about 6.8 ounces per fish, not too shabby, but not a record breaker.
The Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge is 60,000 acres of wetlands, heavily populated with Tupelo and Cypress. Due to recent flooding conditions, the water was higher than usual so many boats were floating where they would normally be high and dry, or at least running aground.
The festival was not all about fishing, though that is the reason for the event. The Felsenthal Bream fest had what you want and expect at such a happening: food and merchant vendors, arts and crafts, a Gospel “sing,” a water slide, the rock climbing doo-dad you see above, a beauty pageant, and a “street dance” in the town’s covered pavilion. With all of the Memorial Day and festival attendees, the “street dance” in the pavilion was a prudent idea. Helps hold down 911 calls.
Hungry bream will bite at nearly any thing that looks edible. They love crickets and worms, but will also grab a “poppin’ bug” and a “bream killer” presented with a fly rod. The popping bug floats and the bream killer sinks. It’s not unusual for an angler to catch two fish at one time with a “y” arrangement of a popping bug and a bream killer. Such an event is pandemonium defined. In this environment, however, fly rods would not work well. I mention them because any discourse on bream fishing that does not mention a fly rod should not be taken seriously.
The midday weigh-in was creeping closer and anglers headed to the ramps to make the deadline with their catches. We wisely took our boat out slightly ahead of the main crowd. My skipper and crew for the day were my friends of long-standing, Linda Newbury, Mayor of Felsenthal, and her husband Jack Newbury, a member of the Felsenthal town council. They are avid anglers and know the waters around Felsenthal like the back of their hands.
See more Felsenthal fishing pictures in our Weekly Grist Gallery.
The small town of Felsenthal and its people do good job with their festival, proving again, that you don’t have to be big and you don’t have to have an unlimited budget to do good things. But you do have to have a good idea and be prepared to drip a lot of sweat in the process. The folks at Felsenthal have both down pat.
See more Felsenthal fishing and festival
pictures in our Weekly Grist gallery
We’ve posted 62 pictures of fishing and the festival at Felsenthal in our gallery
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Filed under: Behind the Scenes, but wait, there's more | Tagged: bass boat, Boat, boy rock climbing, Bream, Bream Fest, Bream Festival, bream killer, catalpa worms, Crickets, Felsenthal, Felsenthal Arkansas, Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge, Felsenthal Wildlife Refuge, festival, Fish, fishing boat, Fishing rod, fly rod, Memorial Day, popping bug, Rock climbing, town festival | 10 Comments »