Kentucky Lake, Kentucky Dam Village, KY
Kentucky Lake. I have dreamed of fishing this lake since I was a little kid. So it should be more than obvious that I was extremely eager to get to Kentucky and start practicing for the BASSMASTER Weekend Series Regional Championship, a tournament I qualified for by finishing second overall in the 2008 Angler of the Year points race, in the Minnesota pro division.
The first day of practice I decided to fish Lake Barkley. I started by fishing some main lake points and secondary points, figuring that it was going to be an early fall bite and the fish were going to be starting their push from the main lake summer areas to the backs of the creeks. I started by throwing a Lucky Craft Sammy (Citrus Shad) on the main lake point but had no success. I switched to a Jewel 1/2 oz. Football Jig (Peanut Butter and Jelly), again nothing. I worked the bank into the secondary point where I instantly noticed bass blowing up on schooling shad. This time I threw a Zoom Baby Brush Hog (Green Pumpkin) with a pegged 1/4 oz. Tru Tungsten Sinker, and hooked up with my first Lake Barkley bass. Not the best sized bass but it was a start. I moved back up the bank and was quickly hit by a good solid four pounder but it came off at the boat. That one was sitting in a brush pile that was in about 10 feet of water, just off the bank.
I thought that I might have a pattern going but never managed to catch a keeper bass the entire first day. I did catch a lot of 12 – 14 inch bass but none of the minimum size limit of 15 inches.
After not having much success on Lake Barkley I decided I would give Kentucky Lake a try. My research told me that unlike Barkley, there is grass in Kentucky Lake. I thought that would set up better for me in helping find the better schools of bass. I knew that the further south you go on Kentucky the more grass you find. I decided to launch the second day of practice out of Aurora, Kentucky. I figured I would run down to Paris, TN and start fishing my way back up in search for some good water.
Right away I ran to a small creek channel that comes off a big main lake flat. I managed to catch a couple shorts right away on a Biovex Amp Mid Runner Crankbait (Wakasagi Ghost). As I head into the creek channel I noticed some patchy milfoil and a little coontail sitting on the bank in about 3 feet of water. I made a few pitches with the Zoom Baby Brush Hog and boated a nice 17″ largemouth. I worked the cove for about an hour periodically getting bites but managing to shake them off and hopefully save them for the tournament.
I tried to duplicate the pattern in similar creeks and coves but just managed to catch fifty or so small schoolers. Again after spending all day on the water I only caught one keeper and countless shorts.
The next day I awoke to a nasty weather front moving in. It had been sunny and 85 degree’s the first two days and now it was 45 degree’s and down pouring. My morning started very slow but around mid afternoon it started picking up. The weather stayed pretty nasty for the vast majority of the day, but the fishing was red hot. Again for the exception of that they where all small ones. Looking back I spent way to much of the day trying to chase around schoolers that where blowing up little threadfin shad. The problem was that they were everywhere, but for every fifty dinks there would be only one that would keep, and even the keepers where barely bumping the 15″ mark. I could see that many of the other competitors where also chasing around those fish which made me think if I could find a school of bigger bass, I may have a great opportunity to win this thing.
The last day of practice I decided that the best fish that I could find where in the the hydrilla that was mostly around Paris, TN and further down lake. I launched in Paris and headed south in search of some real good grass and indeed found it. I found some great main lake areas that had perfect matted hydrilla in about three feet of water that also had the main river channel come right up and bump the weedy flat. There was a lot of baitfish activity in the area and the presence of gizzard shad helped to assure the bigger fish where in the area. I started by throwing a Heddon’s Mega Moss Boss (Black) and was instantly awarded with a nice quality keeper bass. I switched to a Gambler Cane Toad (Green Pumpkin) and again another good keeper. I started flippin a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver pegged with a 3/4 to a 1 oz. Tru Tungsten Flippin’ Weight and managed to pull on a few more quality bites.
I had to get off the water pretty early in the afternoon to be sure to get to registration in time. I was really starting to build some good confidence and felt I had a good game plan to not only catch a limit, but figured I could catch a solid limit. I was going to make the 65 mile run south of Paris, and start with some early topwater and spinnerbait and try to limit quick on the shad bite, then as the sun got high start flippin’ the mats for a few key culls. I filled my boat with gas and headed to the registration meeting.
After the meeting I got back and instantly got to re tying and gearing up for the big weekend. I opened up my front rod locker and was instantly met with the powerful odor of gas. It was the worst I have ever smelled gas before. Worried I opened my battery compartment and the smell intensified. Figuring I had a leak I tried for hours to find the problem and fix it, finally figuring that the tank itself had the leak and was spilling gas into the hull of the boat. Unfortunately for me I had to disqualify myself from the tournament. It’s better to be safe than sorry. I wanted to fish this tournament so bad, but logic told me that I would rather be sure I’ll be able to fish many more. This was a very disheartened decision to make, but most likely the smarter one.
I ended up having a bad seal on my starboard side gas tank that was spilling gas into the hull of the boat. I major problem to say the least. One spark from all the electrical wiring that runs through the boat and that could have been my very last tournament. Looking back I’m obviously more than bummed about the outcome, but I know I will be back to Kentucky Lake many many more times and now I have a much better understanding for the lake, which will only play as an advantage to me in the future. I had a great time and learned a ton. I just can’t wait to get back down there!