This past weekend I fished the National Guard FLW College Fishing tournament at Kentucky Lake. The weekend prior to the tournament Kentucky Lake was closed due to very high water levels. A lot of us were sitting around wondering and hoping that we were going to even have a tournament. A couple of days before our tournament they started dropping the water and the lake was finally opened up and our tournament was a go.
Going into the tournament I was a bit unsure of how we were going to catch our fish because there were a lot of different varibles to consider. The water was really muddy for Kentucky Lake and they were pulling a lot of current. Prior to the flooding I wanted to fish the ledges and get out on the main lake but I didn’t know how the muddy water would effect that bite. Also I was debating on making a run over into Barkley Lake as I know the layout of the water a little better. After I analysed how the Stren pro’s were catching their fish though it seemed like the ledges and structure were producing. The guys that went to Barkley said they wish they hadn’t which helped me decided on what lake to fish. I noticed that the guys who were flipping in the stren had an okay first day but their bite died off and their bags were getting smaller during the tournament and this was because the water was being sucked out of the bushes. Whenever the water is falling big fish will pull out off the bank and suspend or out out on the points because mother nature tells them that if they don’t they will get stuck. The guys in the stren that were structure fishing were throwing up good weight every day and their bags were getting a little bigger. So with all the current in the lake I decided to focus on ledges and points.
All I had on the rod deck to start the day was a variety of deep running crankbaits and a couple of 3/4 oz OMEGA football jigs in black and blue tied up on my AiRRUS Rods. We had a late boat number and headed on down to the first point that I wanted to fish. I was marking a lot of bait on the point and some arches and it just looked like the perfect post spawn point for the fish to move up on to put on the feed bag. I fished around the point for about an hour catching a couple of short fish and studying the dropoffs until I finally hung a 4lber on my crankbait. The fish surged and put up a good fight but was scooped up by my partner Ed Kennedy with the net. It was a good way to start the day. After I stuck the fish in the live well I got back up on the front deck and made another cast to the exact spot and quickly caught another fish around 4lbs. I was feeling good and we all shared some high fives. A couple of casts later I caught another 3lber in the same little spot on this point to get my three fish limit.
The hotspot where I snatched up my fish was where the point had a nice drop that went from 9 to 12 feet. Whenever I would put my boat into about 15 feet and throw it up on the bank and bring it through that little box they would smash it. All the fish were hooked really good and had the crankbait sucked down by their gullet.
Now that I had my limit by 9:30 am I needed to get my partner his fish because you can only weigh 3 fish per an angler in college fishing. I took my partner around the point and he was able to boat a bunch of short fish. We ended up catching about 50 fish on the day. I had picked up a black and blue skirted OMEGA football jig with a black and blue flake paca craw at this point and just threw it out into the deep water off the point and I caught a 4th keeper that went about 3lbs. The fish hit the jig good and swam off with it like it didn’t want to ever let it go. I caught a couple more shorts crawling the football out in 25 to 30 feet of water trying not to throw to the first drop off.
We kept on fishing hitting a couple of more spots and it was about noon we decided to run to Duncan bay and look for some more fish. We were both cranking structure at this point cause we were trying to cover water and find them. We pulled up on a hump and caught a couple of shorts and then we made our way back to fish a transition point where on my first cast I caught a 7 pounder that was my fifth keeper. The fish made a couple of good surges but I finally tired her out. While it was good to cull out a 3 plus pounder with a 7 pounder my partner still didn’t have any fish. We ran out of time and had to make it back for our weigh in at 1:30.
The bite was on for a lot of people that were covering water with a crankbait and a jig. The tournament took 24lbs with 6 fish to win and 19lbs to get into the top five to make a check. I had over 20lbs with my 5 keepers and would have easily been in the top 5 but my biggest 3 went 13lbs and 9ozs to give us 13th place out of 40 colleges. I wish they would change that rule so that you could just weigh in your five biggest bass for your team. It’s a funny rule because it’s not very often in partner tournaments that you both catch the same amount of keepers during the course of the day. One guy might carry a team one day and then the other guy the next day in regular team formats but College Fishing does truly make it a tournament about whose TEAM peforms the best on that given day or has a little more luck with getting their partner hooked up with some fish.
Right now the fishing is on fire down at Kentucky Lake and I suggest that there’s no better time to make a trip to that lake. It’s just nuts how good the fishing is down their right now as the water continues to drop making the fish very active. If you are heading down to Kentucky Lake make sure you pack your crankbaits and bring some OMEGA football jigs with you! It will be a blast!
7 Foot Medium Heavy AiRRUS Copperhead Rod, 12lb mono, deep crankbaits
7 Foot Medium Heavy AiRRUS Co-Matrix Rod, 20lb Fluorocarbon, OMEGA Football Jig.
I think one of the keys to my performance was using the right tackle for the job. The Co-Matrix is just an awesome jig rod that gives you a lot of power as well as sensitivity for throwing jigs. I didn’t have to hold anything back when I was powering these big bass to the boat and the AiRRUS Copperhead rod was great for throwing those big crankbaits a long ways. I added a couple of rattles to my jigs with the Naked Bait Co skirt expander and the skirts I was using on my jig was a hand made black and blue that had a little bit of purple in it to help it stand out in the muddy water.