May 3, 2008 by Jennifer Simmons
BENTON, Ky. - Kentucky Lake has been pretty good to Pevely, Mo., pro Bobby McMullin. Forty five years ago, he and his wife honeymooned here, and today the Kentucky Lake area became the site of his first-ever tournament victory in 103 tries since 1995. McMullin's 17-pound stringer was the heaviest of the day and catapulted him to the top with a four-day weight of 64 pounds, 7 ounces, enough for a 1-pound, 1-ounce margin of victory.
McMullin has been competing in Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League events for years now and is in his 10th year fishing the Stren Series, having first competed in the Stren as a co-angler. He won the points title from the back of the boat in 2002 and in 2004 moved to the pro side, all the while wishing and hoping for a win. That came today in unexpected fashion, as he ended day two in fifth place behind hard-charging Nate Wellman and Jeff Carman, not to mention well-known pros Ramie Colson Jr. and Troy Eakins.
"I couldn't believe it; I didn't think I could make up that much," he said.
For McMullin, it took a tackle box full of baits and a few spots on Kentucky close to the marina to hand him a hard-earned tournament victory.
"I was fishing points with wind on them that I had been fishing all week long," he said. "New fish were moving in each day. I made a milkrun around 2 to 3 miles in north Kentucky Lake, from Moors (Marina) to the dam."
McMullin caught his bass on Spooks, crankbaits, jerkbaits and jigs, but his money fish came today on a green-pumpkin centipede.
"I'd try one and pick up another," he said of his lure selection. "I'd just get it in front of one of them."
McMullin said he was fishing depths of about 4 to 6 feet, just waiting for one or two to move in.
"I think they were moving in to feed," he said. "It was not a good spawning area. They were little secondary points - anything that had rock. I was in a protected area where the wind wouldn't hit full force."
McMullin's catches over the course of the week have been remarkably consistent, as he caught 15-15 on day one, 15-13 on day two and 15-11 yesterday before busting the 17-pound sack today. Those results prove his statement that his bass were difficult to cull up, as they were all about the same. The one that was different - his big day-four kicker fish - came today just in the nick of time.
"I had about five spots that had a few docks, and the big fish came off a dock close to Moors with 20 minutes to go," he said.
McMullin said on stage today that he is now 65 years old and enjoying his retirement, drawing Social Security and fishing the bass tours. Today, he earned a nice supplement to those Social Security checks, raking in $25,000 for the win and climbing to 11th in Stren Central points standings. His victory today should help him recover from the seven runner-up finishes he has earned, including three in BFL competition right here on Kentucky/Barkley.
Rose brings in 16-11 to take second
Threatening with the second-heaviest stringer of the day was Mark Rose of Marion, Ark., who ultimately finished second with a four-day weight of 63 pounds, 6 ounces. Rose's 16-pound, 11-ounce day-four stringer helped earn him $9,832 plus a $5,000 Ranger bonus.
Rose might have tasted victory today if not for the bitter misfortune of a few missed fish.
"I'd been catching a limit on a spinnerbait every morning until today, and then I'd fish deep for bigger ones," Rose said. "I'd catch a bigger one each day. Today, I didn't do the spinnerbait deal because it died down. I found two spots that really had them, and I lost my two best fish."
Rose also noticed that his hooks were a little, quote, "boogered up," something he calls a rookie mistake.
"On my ride back to Arkansas, I may be kicking myself for that," he said. "I had the opportunity to have a gold mine today."
Rose was catching his bass between 25 and 30 miles south of the takeoff site at Moors Marina on Kentucky Lake. In addition to the spinnerbaits, Rose also caught fish this week on a Strike King 3/4-ounce green-pumpkin football jig, the same jig on which he won last year's Wal-Mart FLW Series event on Pickwick Lake. He also employed a Strike King Series 5 Sexy Shad crankbait to land a few.
Wellman lands in third
Day-two and day-three leader Nate Wellman came up one fish shy of the limit today, forfeiting his lead and ultimately finishing third with a four-day weight of 60 pounds, 4 ounces. Several factors contributed to his tough luck today, including the weather and a hung-up bait.
"I knew with the front coming in it was going to get tough, and it did," Wellman said. "Then, in the first 10 minutes, I hung my Hog."
That Brush Hog was the sparkly black and blue number that Wellman calls "Old Faithful."
"The secret was that it had to be really sparkly," he said. "That made all the difference."
Also eating at Wellman today was the mental weight that comes from leading the pack, especially when the going gets tough.
"I struggled with a mental battle today," he said. "I lost too many big fish to pull it off this week. It wasn't my turn."
Wellman was fishing the Blood River area of Kentucky Lake, keying on shoreline with chunk-rock banks near spawning pockets.
Eakins, Wooley round out top five
Taking fourth place is Troy Eakins of Nixa, Mo., with a four-day weight of 60 pounds, 3 ounces. He caught 12 pounds, 8 ounces today, his lowest weight of the tournament.
"Today it was just tough after the cold front," Eakins said. "I didn't get as many, and they got smaller on me."
Behind him in fifth is Michael Wooley, who caught 14-13 today for a four-day total of 60 pounds, 2 ounces.
"I've had one rod on my deck all week," Wooley said. "I Texas-rigged a Baby Brush Hog, green pumpkin, in shallow water. All my fish have been spawners."
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top 10 pros on Kentucky/Barkley:
6th: David Young, Mayfield, Ky., 19 bass, 59-10, $5,899
7th: Ramie Colson Jr., Cadiz, Ky., 18 bass, 59-8, $5,408
8th: Koby Kreiger, Okeechobee, Fla., 19 bass, 59-2, $4,916
9th: Jeff Carman, Liberty, Ky., 18 bass, 56-7, $4,424
10th: Dick Shaffer, Rockford, Ohio, 17 bass, 54-2, $3,933
The next event on the Stren Series Central Division schedule is a contest on the Mississippi River near Fort Madison, Iowa, July 23-26.