October 27, 2011 by Rob Newell
BUCHANAN, Tenn. - As day one of the EverStart Series Championship got underway this morning, the fishing world had just one question: would the Alabama rig be a major player at Kentucky Lake?
And the answer is yes - well, kind of.
Cory Johnston of Petersborough, Ontario sacked up 17 pounds, 15 ounces of Kentucky Lake bass to take the early lead. And his lure was an Alabama rig, but not the Alabama Rig.
"My brother Chris and I came down from Ontario and we had not even heard of an Alabama rig until the second to the last day of practice," Johnston explained. "My brother bought one off a local guy, used it the last day of practice and, of course, caught fish on it. I did not have one but was hanging around the service crews on the day off getting some stuff tuned up and Jay (Damphouse) from Evinrude and Jimmy (Wallace) from Ranger Boats were showing me some similar rigs they had made with some spare materials off the trucks. They gave me one and I caught four bass on it first thing this morning."
Though Johnston did catch a limit on the home-cooked rig, he ended up culling up with two better quality fish caught up shallow on a spinnerbait.
"I'm mostly using the rig when I'm out on the first break in 6 to 8 feet of water," Johnston said. "But when I move up shallow I'm using a spinnerbait and a rattle trap and that's how I caught my bigger ones today."
Lendell Martin of Nacogdoches, Texas, holds down the second place spot with 17 pounds, 11 ounces.
And the answer is no, Martin did not catch his fish on an Alabama rig.
"I'm fishing in Tennessee waters," Martin said. "No Alabama rigs for me today. I fishing a pattern up shallow, but I've got to be close to a break into deeper water to get bites. And it's not necessarily a schooling thing either; I can't sit in one place and wear them out. I did catch 15 to 20 keepers today, but they were spread out. I might catch two in a 20-yard stretch, but that's as good as it gets in terms of numbers of fish."
"I still have some water that fits this pattern that I haven't fished yet," Martin added. "And a little sunshine might even help me tomorrow."
And now back to the Alabama rig: Monte Knight of Quitman, Miss., is in third place with a limit for 15 pounds, 15 ounces.
"I've got one awesome schooling spot and I caught most of my weight off it in about 15 minutes this morning, then I left," Knight said. "And yes, I did catch them all on an Alabama rig."
"After that, I fished some other places without any bites, then pulled back into that schooling spot just to check it and they were still there," Knight continued. "But I left it immediately. I figured I had 15 or 16 pounds and there was no need in sitting there catching them to cull up by a pound or two when I could use them tomorrow."
King, Morehead tied for fourth
Zack King of Clarksville, Ark., and Dan Morehead of Paducah, Ky., are tied for fourth, each with 15 pounds, 3 ounces.
King claimed no allegiance to the Alabama rig. Instead he fished deep - 15 to 20 feet - with a crankbait and big spinnerbait.
"I've found two big schools of fish," King said. "There are plenty of 3 pounders in them, but I don't know if there are any bigger ones. I didn't want to sit there, catch them and use them up when I could use some more 3 pounders tomorrow.
Morehead, however, is rolling with Alabama rigs and a spook.
"Those are the only two rods on my deck," Morehead said. "I'm catching numbers on the Alabama rig, but my better fish came on a spook. The fish I've found are wadded up pretty well and I didn't sit there and beat on them today. I kept moving and fished a lot of new water. I'm looking forward to the wind switching directions tomorrow which will open up some new areas for me."
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top-10 pros in the EverStart Championship on Kentucky Lake after day one:
6th: George Kapiton of Inverness, Fla., five-bass, 15-1
7th: Jeff Hippert of Hamburg, N.Y., five-bass, 14-14
8th: Charles Bebber of Willis, Texas, five-bass, 14-9
9th: Mike Eutsler of Springfield, Mo., five-bass, 14-4
10th: Scott Mansfield of McKenzie, Tenn., five-bass, 14-2
Strunk leads co-anglers
If your looking for who caught the biggest limit on day one of the EverStart Championship on Kentucky Lake, well that would belong to co-angler Beecher Strunk of Somerset, Ky., who weighed in 20 pounds, 8 ounces.
Strunk's catch was anchored by an enormous 9 pound, 6 ounce bass that easily claimed the co-angler big fish honors on day one and ranks as the biggest fish he has ever caught.
Strunk was hesitant to give up details for his catch out of respect for his pro, Doyle Isom, Jr., of Bourbon, Mo., who took him to the fish.
"All I can say is the bait I was using is made by Cumberland Pro Lures," Strunk said. "I really don't want to say what it was just yet. I caught the big fish towards the end of the day. We pulled in to check one last spot and the fish were biting. I caught a 3-pounder, the 9-pounder and a big drum in about a 10 minute period. I landed the big one on 12-pound test Seaguar fluorocarbon.
Russell Lohman of Pineville, La., is in second place in the Co-angler Division with a limit weighing 16 pounds, 15 ounces.
David Underwood of Waco, Texas, is in third place in the Co-angler Division with five bass for 16 pounds, 8 ounces.
Richard Peek of Centre, Ala., holds down the fourth place spot with five fish for 15 pounds, 10 ounces.
Steve Keller of Bethel, Ohio, rounds out the top five in the Co-angler Division with five fish weighing 13 pounds, 14 ounces.
Rest of the best
Rounding out the top-10 co-anglers in the EverStart Series Championship on Kentucky Lake after day one:
6th: Eric Richey of Paradise, Texas, five bass, 13-12
7th: Justin Jones of Apex, N.C., five bass, 13-9
8th: Allan Morgan of Stephenville, five bass, 13-2
9th: Kenny McGar of Crofton, Ky., five bass, 12-14
10th: Brett Rachal of Monroe, La., five bass, 12-3
Day two of the EverStart Series Championship on Kentucky Lake will begin at 7:00 a.m. at Paris State Park Landing.