Kentucky Lake slugfest begins

Rayovac FLW Series anglers salute the flag during the anthem before takeoff on day one at Kentucky Lake.

Kenlake Resort State Park is the launching ground for the Kentucky Lake Rayovac FLW Series event this week. There are no secrets on Kentucky Lake this week. If you want to catch a winning stringer, you'd better be ledge fishing. Rayovac FLW Series anglers launched out of Kenlake State Resort Park this morning to near-perfect ledge-fishing conditions for the start of the second Central Division event of the season. Largemouths and smallmouths throughout Kentucky Lake's 160,000 acres have pretty well wrapped up their spawn and are beginning to stage up in large schools on primary and secondary channel ledges. The water level is holding steady at around 359 feet above sea level, which means the shallow bush bite will not be a factor on Kentucky Lake, though some anglers will run to neighboring Lake Barkley, which is connected by a canal and produces a better shallow bite in early summer. Forecasts are for moderate winds that won't prevent anyone from running and gunning around the lake. And if power generation schedules remain consistent, there'll be daily "pulls" of power-generating current that should motivate bass to set up and feed heavily at times. A few other options exist for catching limits, including a morning shad-spawn bite and junk-fishing shallow cover. But everyone knows that to catch the 25 pounds per day that it could take to win, the best odds are to park on a ledge and work over schools of bass with crankbaits, jigs, Texas rigs, Carolina rigs, spoons and swimbaits. Crankbaits and various soft-plastic rigs will be in play on Kentucky Lake Dealing with pressure According to some of the local favorites, the biggest challenges of this tournament will be finding the right schools that hold winning fish and dealing with the heavy fishing pressure of two major tournaments. The Rayovac event has 179 registered boaters, launching out of Kenlake in the central section of the reservoir's Kentucky waters. Farther south in Paris, Tenn., another major multiple-day event will commence on Friday with between 300 and 350 boats. Winning the Rayovac title will come down to careful school management and who can capitalize when a top spot opens up. "I know it's going to be crowded," says Indiana pro Todd Hollowell, a well-known Kentucky Lake stick. "I think there are fish in a lot of different places. They're scattered around. I just got here a few days ago, but the water temperature has come up 10 degrees in the last four or five days. It's just starting to warm up. The guy who finds a school of 4-pound-plus fish is going to win it." Todd Hollowell says a black-and-blue jig will be one of his go-to lures this week. Hollowell says he has spots waypointed throughout a 60-mile stretch of the lake, and he thinks the top 10 could be scattered even wider once the weekend cut is made. Like most of the anglers in the field, Hollowell says he spent most of his practice period idling ledges with the big motor and staring at his electronics, rather than actually casting on his best spots. That strategy was about covering water and playing defense. During practice, anglers not only faced heavy pressure from bass fishermen practicing for the two tournaments this weekend, but also increased boat traffic during the Memorial Day weekend and the usual local fishing pressure that exists on this popular bass and panfish lake. A bent rod is like a beacon that invites unwanted company, so the safest strategy is to focus on locating schools and worry about figuring out the fish in the tournament. Other anglers chose to borrow unwrapped boats or fish their best spots only at dark. One well-known local even hinted at making an extreme run to the south end of Barkley, where he hopes to have water to himself. Expect a slugfest Reigning Kentucky Lake Rayovac champ Curt McGuire, a guide and local favorite from Paris, Tenn., won the 2013 event with a three-day total of 70 pounds, 3 ounces. He thinks this year's event could be an even bigger slugfest. "There'll probably be bigger weights this year than last year," he says. "They haven't been pressured yet." The 2013 event was held in mid-June, and anglers were confronted with high winds that made fishing tough. A late spring this year also held up the initial move to the ledges, so this week we'll see the very first wave of ledge bass being brought to tournament scales. "There's still some transitioning going on," McGuire adds. The timing also means that some of the traditional summer holes won't quite have their normal schools of bass, but according to Alabama Tour pro Barry Wilson, where you do find a school, it's usually a "mega-school." "When you find them, they're set up and lined up," he says. "Fish are grouped together, but they're not everywhere yet. They should stay [on those spots] for awhile." Alabama pro Barry Wilson reports having had a strong practice. He Wilson is confident that he's figured out a presentation that's a little different than what he saw other anglers using in practice. Most importantly, it's worked for him at times when the current has slacked off and fish have gone inactive. And that's the final piece to the puzzle. When they're chomping, just about anyone can pull up to a school and quickly put a limit n the boat. The best ledge fishermen in the business, however, have a unique ability to make bass bite even when the school isn't firing. Rest assured, this field includes some of the country's best ledge fishermen, and their skills will be on full display for three days in western Kentucky. Expect big weights and big bass on the big waters of Kentucky Lake. Takeoff begins on Kentucky Lake. Thursday's Conditions Sunrise: 5:37 a.m. Day's outlook: partly cloudy with a chance of thunderstorms in late afternoon Extended weather forecast: high chances of scattered thunderstorms each day Temperature at takeoff: upper 60s Expected high temperature: mid-80s Water temperature: upper 70s Wind: south, southeast at less than 5 mph Moon phase: new moon Rayovac FLW Series event information Takeoff Location: Kenlake Resort State Park, 524 Kenlake Road, Hardin, Ky. Time: 6 a.m. Weigh-in Days 1 and 2 location: Kenlake Resort State Park, 524 Kenlake Road, Hardin, Ky. Days 1 and 2 time: 2 p.m. Day 3 location: Country Chevrolet, 104 W. 5th St., Benton, Ky. Day 3 time: 4 p.m. Weigh-in Coverage For those who can't catch the weigh-in action in person, FLWOutdoors.com offers FLW Live, an online application that brings fans real-time weigh-in results, streaming video and audio. Boy Scouts pro Tom Redington traveled all the way from Texas to try his hand at the Rayovac FLW Series event on Kentucky Lake. He made sure his depth-finder screens were clean and clear before takeoff. They Tournament Details Pros will fish for a top award of $40,000 plus a Ranger Z518C with a 200-hp Evinrude or Mercury outboard if Ranger Cup guidelines are met. Co-anglers are competing for a top award of a Ranger Z117 with 90-hp Evinrude or Mercury outboard and $5,000 if Ranger Cup guidelines are met. The Rayovac FLW Series consists of five divisions - Central, Northern, Southeast, Texas and Western. Each division consists of three tournaments, and competitors will be vying for valuable points in each division that could earn them the opportunity to fish in the Rayovac FLW Series Championship, to be held Oct. 30-Nov. 1 on Wheeler Lake in Rogersville, Ala. The Rayovac FLW Series tournament on Kentucky Lake is being hosted by the Marshall County Tourist Commission. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Rayovac FLW Series on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter at Twitter.com/FLWFishing.

Tags: morning-story  curtis-niedermier 

/tips/2015-05-23-the-next-big-ledge-bait

The Next Big Ledge Bait

If you’re a ledge fisherman, go buy another Plano tackle tray, because the list of baits that you need to have in your arsenal has grown once again. Ledge maestro Ben Parker, who developed the Nichols Lures Magnum Spoon and unveiled it to the fishing world at the 2014 Walmart FLW Tour finale on Kentucky Lake, has drummed up another big hit for offshore anglers – “big” being the key word. The new Nichols MBP Swimbait (MBP stands for Magnum Ben Parker) is a jumbo swimbait that already helped FLW pros cash checks on the Tennessee River ledges at this month’s Rayovac FLW Series tournament on Kentucky Lake. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-21-seminole-summer

Seminole Summer

Last week, the Walmart FLW Tour plied the waters of the Chattahoochee River on Lake Eufaula. This week, the Rayovac FLW Series moves 60 miles south on the “Hooch” to Lake Seminole for the final event of the Southeast Division. Running offshore brush piles was the dominant theme on Eufaula last week, leaving some to wonder if a similar pattern could work on Seminole, since the two legendary lakes are connected by the same river. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-17-lake-eufaula-aoy-update

Lake Eufaula AOY Update

Following his win at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Quaker State on Lake Eufaula, Shelby, N.C., pro Bryan Thrift moved to second place in the 2015 Angler of the Year standings with 753 points. The 2010 AOY trails Wesley Strader, who finished fourth at Eufaula, by 18 points. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-15-sweet-as-honeycutt

Sweet as Honeycutt

Keith Honeycutt knows how to fish his way to the tournament podium. The veteran Texas co-angler has won multiple FLW tournaments, including the 2013 Walmart FLW Tour event at Grand Lake. Still, when Honeycutt hoisted the FLW Tour co-angler champion’s trophy over his head on stage this afternoon at Lake Eufaula, he celebrated with great joy because he knows how difficult it is to attain that level of success against the best amateur anglers in the world. “It doesn’t come around very often,” says Honeycutt, who edged out Japan’s Hiroyuki Watanabe by just 2 ounces with a two-day total of 22 pounds, 12 ounces. “It’s hard to get two pro partners who fish a way that you can catch them too.” READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-14-shallow-deep-and-in-between-at-eufaula

Shallow, Deep and in Between at Eufaula

A couple of weeks ago Eufaula was high and off-color, and the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Quaker State that begins this morning was shaping up to be a shallow-water showdown. The lake has fallen by a couple of inches since then, however, and now the odds are even that both inshore and offshore patterns will be in play. In fact, one Eufaula expert who isn’t fishing the tournament expects it will take a mixture of patterns to make it to Sunday’s championship round and claim the $100,000 that goes to the winner. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-11-top-10-patterns-from-the-california-delta

Top 10 Patterns from the California Delta

A run-and-gun pattern with just a couple of go-to baits was what lifted Wade Curtiss to the title – all the way from 10th place after two days – at the Rayovac FLW Series Western Division event presented by Ranger Boats at the California Delta. The rest of the pros in the top 10 were primarily combining two to three patterns based on the tides or camping out in areas that they knew held quality keeper bass. Here’s how the rest of the top 10 got it done on the Delta. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-09-curtiss-climbs-from-10th-to-1st-at-delta

Curtiss Climbs from 10th to 1st at Delta

All week long, the extreme variety of conditions, patterns and baits at the California Delta has challenged Rayovac FLW Series Western Division pros who were battling it out at the second divisional stop of the season, which was presented by Ranger Boats. In the end, it was the pro who ran the seemingly simplest of patterns who was most consistent, and his consistency was just what was needed to overcome a slow Delta bite. Wade Curtiss of Meadow Vista, Calif., weighed in daily limits of 20-05, 19-01 and 22-07, respectively, for a three-day total of 61-13. He climbed from 10th place to first – albeit from only 1 pound, 6 ounces back – for the come-from-behind victory. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-09-farage-dominates-delta-co-anglers

Farage Dominates Delta Co-anglers

Adapt or die. That pretty well sums up co-angler Jack Farage’s runaway win at the Rayovac FLW Series Western Division event presented by Ranger Boats on the California Delta this week. Obviously, the Discovery Bay, Calif., co-angler adapted – he changed baits every day – and made all the right moves. Farage opened the tournament with a massive 26-pound limit, followed with 11-11 yesterday and then blew the competition away with 16-14 today. His three-day total of 54-09 is 15-07 better than second-place co-angler Todd Kline’s. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-08-uribe-leads-packed-delta-top-10

Uribe Leads Packed Delta Top 10

Joe Uribe Jr. has been here before – and not too long ago. The Surprise, Ariz., pro, who fishes for the Bridgford pro-team, won the 2015Rayovac FLW Series Western Division opener on Lake Havasu back in early February. In that event, Uribe carried a lead of more than 5 pounds into the final day of competition, which is where the difference lies today. He once again has the two-day lead in a Western Division event, this one presented by Ranger Boats on the California Delta, but it’s by only a slim 1-ounce margin over David Valdivia, who weighed in a 10-pound bass today en route to putting together a 26-03 limit that jumped him up the leaderboard from 48th to second. The entire top 10 is sandwiched together with just 1 pound, 10 ounces separating first from 10th. Uribe also made a big move today. He weighed in 16-15 on day one, which put him in 30th place. Today, he weighed 24-01 for a two-day total of 41 pounds even. The difference was all about timing and capitalizing on perfect conditions. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-08-top-5-patterns-from-the-delta-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from the Delta Day 2

Joe Uribe Jr. is out in front on the California Delta with a chance to be the second pro of 2015 to win back-to-back Rayovac FLW Series events. Ray Hanselman was the first en route to sweeping the Texas Division. Uribe won the Western Division opener on Lake Havasu in February by almost 15 pounds, but to follow it up this week, he’ll need a big bag on Saturday. Uribe leads second-place pro David Valdivia by just 1 ounce, and he has a lead of only 1-6 over 10th-place pro Wade Curtiss. Overall, the standings shook up today after an extreme weather change, from windy and cold to sunny, warm and slick. The conditions helped the morning topwater bite and the flipping bite, which showed in an increase in the number of 6-pound-plus bass brought to weigh-in today. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-07-shura-in-front-on-the-cal-delta

Shura in Front on the Cal Delta

Day one of the Rayovac FLW Series Western Division event presented by Ranger Boats at the California Delta didn’t exactly turn out as most pros expected. There were no 28- to 30-pound limits, like were predicted. And even a couple in the current top five were surprised that their mid-20-pound weights held up like they did. Current second-place pro Ken Mah summed up the opinion shared by most pros this week when he said that the Cal Delta is just “a little funky” right now. The one pro who figured it out best today is Matt Shura, who weighed in 26 pounds, 6 ounces. Thirteen pros weighed in at least 20 pounds. Shura, of Gilbert, Ariz., leads a top 12 (three of those pros are tied in 10th place) that includes nine Californians. The locals definitely seem to have an advantage right now, as groups of big spawning bass are moving into small areas to spawn, and not everyone knows where those spots are located. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-07-top-5-patterns-from-the-cal-delta-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from the Cal Delta Day 1

Arizona pro Matt Shura took the early lead on the California Delta with a mix of slow-moving and reaction baits. Others in the top five had similar success with a mixed bag of baits. Here’s how they got it done on day one. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-07-anything-goes-at-the-cal-delta

Anything Goes at the Cal Delta

There are 127 pros entered in the Rayovac FLW Series Western Division tournament presented by Ranger at the California Delta this week. If you asked them all what their baits or tactics are for the first day of competition today, you might get 127 different answers. At some fisheries that FLW’s tournament circuits visit, such varied and often vague responses from pros when they’re prompted for fishing info are the result of them attempting to stealthily hide their fishing patterns. That’s not exactly the case at this tournament. The fact is, the California Delta is one of the most vast and varied fisheries that hosts FLW events. It’s a collection of unique mini-fisheries all rolled into one, with dirty water, clean water, tons of vegetation and other factors tossed into the mix. It’s a tidal fishery, so the water levels and currents fluctuate throughout each day. And, of course, it’s spring in California, and because of the vastness of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and the delta system they feed, with its 1,000 miles of waterways, there are populations of bass in all stages of the spawn in their own little geographic areas. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-07-in-or-out-on-kentucky-lake

In or Out on Kentucky Lake

READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-06-big-weights-likely-at-the-cal-delta

Big Weights Likely at the Cal Delta

This week’s California Delta stop of the Rayovac FLW Series Western Division is setting up to be a typical Cal Delta derby – that’s a very good thing. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-30-texoma-tough-but-stabilizing

Texoma Tough, but Stabilizing

As of press time, we were unable to confirm whether or not Troy Broussard has ever suffered a barnyard assault by any beast of burden. Nevertheless, his colorful metaphor bespeaks a challenging scenario facing the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division field on Lake Texoma for this week’s finale, which is presented by Evinrude. From Broussard’s facebook page: “Well, after three full days [of practice] on Lake Texoma, I can honestly say that I compare this to getting kicked in the face by a mule. It’s brutal.” Allusions aside, the big Ouachita River reservoir straddling the Texas-Oklahoma border has indeed shown its persnickety side of late. Blame Mother Nature for that. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-29-aoy-showdown-looming-in-texas

AOY Showdown Looming in Texas

Lake Texoma on the Texas-Oklahoma border will play host to a Strike King Angler of the Year showdown in the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division this week, and there are plenty of storylines worth discussing before this one gets underway. Several pros are in contention for the AOY title, and many others are vying for a trip to the Rayovac FLW Series Championship, which requires finishing in the top 40 in AOY points. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-29-20-questions-with-ray-hanselman

20 Questions with Ray Hanselman

Ray Hanselman is on fire. The Del Rio, Texas, pro won back-to-back Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division tournaments to start the 2015 season. His first win was in February on Lake Amistad, which is Hanselman’s home lake and where he runs a guide service. His second win came last week on Sam Rayburn. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-23-tricky-transition-at-beaver

Tricky Transition at Beaver

Though Beaver Lake is an annual stop for the Walmart FLW Tour, that doesn’t mean it is an easy lake to decipher. This year’s event, which is presented by Rayovac, is later into the spring than usual and is causing some major head scratching among the 154 pros in the field. There’s no doubt that some fish can be found on beds, however, they are mostly small. The consensus is that a lot of fish are stuck in limbo between the spawn and prespawn phase on this White River impoundment. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-16-fog-delays-grand-lake-start

Fog Delays Grand Lake Start

It’s no secret that the first Rayovac FLW Series Central Division event of the year on Grand Lake has collided perfectly with the spawn. Nearly every shallow pocket on the lake holds dozens upon dozens of bass that are eager to do their deed. The 197 pros making up a record-setting Central Division field could hardly contain themselves to get on the water this morning. The only issue was fog – and lots of it. With a 7 a.m. CT takeoff planned, a heavy blanket of fog delayed the start of the tournament, which is presented by Power-Pole, until 8:30, when the fog lifted enough for safe travel but was still hanging around just enough to be a hindrance to those looking to sight-fish. READ MORE »