East Arkansas anglers in the low water of the Copper River

Helena-West Helena, Ark. (WMC) – Helena-West Helena is gearing up to host one of the best fishing tournaments of the year.

Bill Dance’s inaugural Mississippi River Monster (MRM) Mega Bucs tournament begins Saturday, featuring 50 fly fishing teams from across the country and a total of $120,000 in prize money.

“It’s a real deal for the sport,” tournament director George Young Jr. said. “It’s amazing that tourists come for this event.”

Young said that since last week, 50 teams have come out and are out on the water looking for the best spots in the river to fish.

A team went exploring earlier this week and found a little more than fish.

The team found an old wooden boat that had capsized and floated out of the newly discovered Mississippi River.

Historic sites of Mississippi they are revealing such richeshas been lost to the sands of time for the past few weeks.

“There’s a lot of excitement in the air,” Young said of the pre-race atmosphere along with the historic discovery.

An archeological team excavated the boat and estimated it to be from 1910.

The young man hears stories like this from other fishing friends up and down.

“It’s amazing how many cars there are in this river. I’ve heard guns, other old boats that might be 100 years old… but lots of cars. This is the main thing, – said Yang.

“They find old bikes and it’s fun to see bonfires in the sand,” Alex Nagy said.

Nagy is a player on the Rippin’ Lips team that will compete in this weekend’s tournament.

Wednesday was their first time out on the river and they took our team with them to see some of the lowest river in West Helena.

As of Wednesday evening, the National Weather Service’s river gauge in Helena-West Helena read -3.79 feet, about 7 feet below “low stage.”

Nagi said that low water is not all bad.

“Low water means good fishing,” he said. “Fish don’t have that many places to hide. Now we have a smaller channel to go after and tag more fish. It’s going to be exciting what anglers catch.”

“The river is low. There are problems with boat ramps on the river that everyone knows about,” Young said. “The City of Helena-West Helena has bent over backwards to maintain this ramp at the race commission.”

Some of the things we saw on the river included an old sunken barge wrapped around one of the abutments of the Highway 49 bridge, and some old train tracks that still have a fairway.

While Nagi and his team’s goal is to catch a big fish and get a big reward with it, he says that he might be keeping a unique find at the river’s edge.

“We’re excited to go out there and look on the sonar, look for fish, but also anything unusual,” Nagy said.

Objects over 100 years old are being found in the river, and there is excitement among groups of hikers and boaters about what has already been found and what has yet to be found as the river continues its historic lows.

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