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Arkansas anglers excelled in major bass fishing tournaments over the weekend, beginning with Melinda Hays of Hot Springs, who became the first woman to win a Phoenix Bass Fishing League Regional Championship on Sunday at Table Rock Lake.

Hays is the fourth female angler to qualify for or compete in the Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American. She weighed 10 bass over three days totaling 22 pounds, 4 ounces to win the top co-angler prize package of $50,000, including a new Phoenix 819 Pro bass boat with a 200-horsepower Mercury outboard motor.

Also in the co-angler division, Kanon Harmon of Benton finished sixth with seven bass weighing 16-0 to win $900. Josh Castleberry of Jessieville finished ninth with six bass weighing 13-2 to win $600.

Beau Browning of Hot Springs finished sixth in the boater division. He weighed in 12 bass with a total weight of 28-4 to win $1,600. Audie Prewitt Jr. of Benton finished 10th in the boater division with 13 bass weighing 26-10 to win $1,000. Brad Morgan of Ashdown finished 11th with 11 bass weighing 25-14 to win $1,000.

In the Bassmaster Central Open at Neely Henry Lake in Alabama, Stephen Browning of Hot Springs finished third with 32-11 to win $14,270. Browning ended the first day of the three-day event tied for 38th place with only 9-5. He bounced back on the second day with 13-6, including a 5-5 fish. He weighed in 10-0 in the final round.

Browning targeted wood cover, riprap, chunk rock and gravel banks throwing a Z-Man JackHammer chatterbait with a Z-Man Razor ShadZ trailer and a Jewel finessed jig with a craw worm.

"It was just typical river fishing. You just fish what's in front of you," Browning said. "Realistically, I had the same bag three days in a row. I just had that big fish on Friday that bumped me up pretty good."

WMA Cleanup

For people who won't do better, thank goodness for people who will do better.

The Arkansas Outdoor Society Central Arkansas Chapter will clean up an abused portion of the new Cedar Mountain Wildlife Management Area near Paron Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon.

Slobs have converted an abandoned gravel mine into an unauthorized shooting range and trash dump, leaving hundreds of spent shotgun hulls and assorted garbage. Arkansas Mini Dumpsters has donated dumpsters for the cleanup.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission leases the WMA, which contains 12,000 acres north of Flatside Pinnacle Wilderness Area and another 2,000 acres off Weyerhauser 24000 Road southwest of Paron.

To reach the area, go south from Paron on Highway 9. A short distance outside of town, turn right on Mt. Ida Rd. Go 3.5 miles and turn right on U.S. Forest Service Road 24000. Go 3/4 mile and turn right. In addition to the cleanup, it will be a great opportunity to see this beautiful area cloaked in autumn colors. For more information, call Deke Whitbeck at (501) 831-3382.

Campground reopens

After being closed for nearly five years, DeRoche Ridge campground at DeGray Lake State Park reopened Wednesday.

DeRoche Ridge campground was closed in 2015 for renovations. Before its scheduled reopening in the spring of 2018, DeGray Lake experienced record-level flooding. This historic high-water event forced the park to keep the newly renovated campground closed for additional repairs. The picturesque campground is finally ready to welcome visitors.

"Access to nature and the out-of-doors is more important now than ever before," said Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. "With so many adults working from home and kids attending school online, getting outside is a welcome respite from spending too much time indoors. We are very excited to be able to reopen the DeRoche Ridge campground and offer our visitors some much-needed fresh air in a beautiful setting."

DeRoche Ridge campground is on a peninsula surrounded on three sides by crystal-clear water. The campground contains 25 class AAA sites with water, 50/30/20-amp electric and sewer. There are also six class D walk-in tent sites with shared water services.

To reserve a site at any Arkansas state park, visit ArkansasStateParks.com and click the Book Online button at the top of the page.

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