Ledge season begins

Randy Blaukat

The writer's opinions and observations expressed here are his own, and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views, policies or positions of FLW. This week is the beginning of what I call the initial leg of the FLW ledge-fishing expert benefit swing. The Rayovac FLW Series event on Kentucky Lake, currently taking place, is the first in a trio of FLW events to be held on Tennessee River lakes, the latter two being the Walmart FLW Tour on Pickwick Lake and the Walmart FLW Tour grand finale on Kentucky lake. Each tournament promises to be a postspawn, offshore shootout, and like some other anglers, I'm not particularly thrilled with this part of the season, for a couple of reasons. First, June is the time of year when the bass are recovering from the spawn and tend to be very weak. That is why we see the highest mortality rates at bass tournaments during this month, which is never a good thing. Also, despite the size of Kentucky Lake and Pickwick, at this time of year the lakes will fish seemingly tiny. Most of the field will be piled up on top of each other on key ledges, and with the side-imaging/down-imaging technology, the lakes fish even smaller. Add to that the extreme local fishing pressure, a strong local field and other events on the lakes on top of the FLW tournaments, and you can see why so many FLW anglers are not exactly thrilled at what lies ahead. Regardless, as in any event, there will be bass to be caught and money to be won. From what we saw on day one, the Rayovac FLW Series on Kentucky Lake will be dominated by ledge fishing in 8 to 25 feet of water (Editor's note: Brandon Hunter took the early lead with more than 27 pounds, which he caught by fishing offshore ledges.). In the past, late May and early June have offered some good action by flipping, frogging or working a Rebel Pop-R across the top. I doesn't appear that any of that is coming into play much. Kentucky Lake fishes so much different now than it did 15 years or so ago. Back then, anglers had to put in the time to cover miles of ledges by actually fishing to find the schools. Only the locals knew the locations of creek intersections, isolated stumps and shell beds. It's a different world now. Few anglers actually fished during practice. Instead, they turned on dual imaging units and idled around for hours, looking for tiny specks of "rice" on the screen. Once the fish that these specks represent were found, many contestants didn't even fish them until the event. The challenge for all the anglers will be overcoming the effects of fishing pressure on these schools. Timing and boat draw are two factors almost as important as finding the fish in the first place. The major downside of postspawn ledge fishing is the uncontrollable variable regarding who gets to the spot first, and what type of deals are worked out among the anglers sharing the sweet spots. You might have noticed over the past couple of years that offshore experts such as Mark Rose, JT Kenney, Randy Haynes and others always seem to be fishing only a few feet apart from each other. These anglers who have become experts at reading electronics always tend to get on the same group of fish, but such is a byproduct of the technology. Lakes like Kentucky, Pickwick, Okeechobee and a few others share a common distinction that has become fishing gospel: "If you are not around the boats, you are not catching many fish." Where these lakes are concerned, that's a true statement for the most part, and another reason why these venues are not among the favorites of many Tour-level anglers. Techniques and lures in the Rayovac event are secondary to electronics. Big swimbaits, football-head jigs, deep-diving crankbaits, jigging spoons and possibly umbrella rigs do most of the damage. The big key is finding the schools that hold the bigger fish, or finding some schools that have been somehow overlooked by the other anglers. That is what it will take to win. Getting the big ones in the boat is another issue. June is notorious for being the month when an inordinate amount of big bass jump off the hook when fishing big crankbaits. It seems that during this time of year, few of the big ones will really fully eat a crankbait. They tend to nip at the back hooks, and many times the ones you land are only hooked with one barb. The big crankbaits will catch the biggest, most aggressive bass in these schools, but other lures will have to be employed to maximize the potential of the school. My initial estimate for the Rayovac event was for the winning angler to have around 60 pounds for three days, and that it would take about 24 pounds over two days to win a check. We'll see what happens on day two today, but it looks like my predictions will be pretty close. Best of luck to all the anglers! Editor's note: Blaukat caught 17 pounds, 2 ounces on day one to start the event in 57th place. Click here for full results.

Tags: blog  randy-blaukat 

/tips/2015-03-18-expect-change-and-adapt-to-it

Expect Change and Adapt to It

Ish Monroe explains how to adapt to changing conditions and recommends to always fish your strengths in this weeks blog. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-17-so-you-want-to-be-a-co-angler-

So You Want to be a Co-Angler?

First and foremost, I know I’m fishing the tournament as a co-angler and I make sure that I not only stay out of my pro’s way, but I do what I can to assist him throughout the day. This starts at the ramp with assisting him with the launch where possible. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-16-a-30-piece-puzzle-with-four-pieces-missing

A 30-Piece Puzzle with Four Pieces Missing

The whole time I was down in Florida during the FLW Tour opener on Lake Toho I felt like I was trying to put together a 30-piece puzzle with four pieces missing. The weather was right, the water temperature was right, the thousands of acres of vegetation looked right, but one thing was wrong: the fish! READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-12-a-clean-slate

A Clean Slate

The 2015 season opener of the Walmart FLW Tour wasn’t at Okeechobee, as in recent years, but at Lake Toho in central Florida. I was excited about the change, and even more pumped to start a fresh new season after blowing my motor on day one of the first event last year. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-02-27-toho-bound

Toho Bound

You have to understand that having home field advantage in fishing is the absolute worst. There are so many demons; you have too much information, you start fishing the lake’s history – it goes on and on and it’s very hard for a professional angler to mentally break that barrier. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-02-25-3-thoughts-on-toho

3 Thoughts on Toho

I was without power for three days after the first storm, but it snowed again this weekend and there is supposed to be more weather on the way. Suffice to say, I can’t get to Florida and Lake Toho fast enough. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-02-20-east-to-west

East to West

As a tournament angler, I realize that a primary aspect of my job is to be able to catch fish anywhere, in all types of fisheries, under a variety of conditions. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-02-12-from-swamp-pro-to-bass-pro

From Swamp Pro to Bass Pro

When most people hear the name “T-Roy Broussard,” they think of me as the Texan in the big green airboat on the reality television show Swamp People. Three years ago I was introduced to households across the world as a burly alligator hunter that made a living off of the land. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-01-29-here-we-go

Here We Go

The 2015 bass tournament season is officially underway and I am super-excited about the changing dynamics. There is no doubt that the economy is improving and the 250-boat field that fished the first Rayovac FLW Series event on Lake Okeechobee is testament to that. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-01-13-are-you-taking-care-of-business-

Are You Taking Care of Business?

My dad started taking me fishing when I was two. My very first job was at Hi’s Tackle Box and after that I spent a few years working for Fisherman’s Choice. I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve been able to spend my life doing what I love and enjoy doing. READ MORE »

/tips/2014-12-30-the-ebb-and-flow-of-sponsorships

The Ebb and Flow of Sponsorships

Many of the readers who follow FLW know me as one of the pros who fishes the Walmart FLW Tour. What many of you don’t know is that I also work in the industry. I get to see what happens behind the scenes more than the average fisherman or fellow fan does. I get to see the sponsor contracts, and the ins and outs of how business works. READ MORE »

/tips/2014-12-22-ish-monroe-travels-to-china

Ish Monroe Travels to China

Among the benefits of having sponsors are the unique opportunities that they provide to you. For instance, during this offseason I got to travel to China for the first time in my life to work with one of my main sponsors, River2Sea, designing and perfecting the Ish Monroe Series. I stopped in Hong Kong on my way there and back. It’s so high-tech and advanced; it’s amazing. READ MORE »

/tips/2014-12-12-5-must-have-knots

5 Must-Have Knots

Most anglers, pros included, look for any little edge to increase their catch, and that includes even the knots they tie to attach lures to their lines. With that in mind, picking the best knot to use with all of today’s lines can be a challenge. READ MORE »

/tips/2014-12-02-offseason-with-the-blaylocks

Offseason with the Blaylocks

READ MORE »

/tips/2014-11-24-how-to-approach-a-potential-sponsor

How to Approach a Potential Sponsor

For a lot of FLW anglers, it’s crunch time in regards to sewing up sponsorships for 2015. Whether you’re fishing at the high school or college level, in BFLs, the Rayovac FLW Series or on the Walmart FLW Tour, gaining some form of sponsorship is critical to enabling you to make a profit from competitive fishing. READ MORE »

/tips/2014-11-06-the-future-of-bass-fishing-is-in-good-hands

The Future of Bass Fishing is in Good Hands

It’s been a couple months since I fished my last FLW event, the Forrest Wood Cup in Columbia, S.C., where I got to watch history in the making. The championship weigh-in was very exciting as it featured the local favorite Anthony Gagliardi taking home the top prize with a 1-ounce margin of victory. READ MORE »

/tips/2014-10-23-changes-in-the-air

Changes in the Air

Another year gone, and another off-season flying by. I’m still trying to catch up on all the stuff around the house that I let go during the season. Chores like painting the garage or little fix-it-up jobs around the house and yard seem to never end. By the way, I am currently fighting it out with fire ants, and even though they seem to have won most of the battles so far, I guarantee they will not win the war. READ MORE »

/tips/2014-10-22-when-more-is-better-

When More is Better

Today’s Lowrance sonar/GPS combos are so powerful, even the entry-level units are waaaay more advanced than what was available just a few years ago before we had GPS, SideScan or DownScan. READ MORE »

/tips/2014-10-10-relaxed-but-reloading

Relaxed, But Reloading

READ MORE »

/tips/2014-09-26-the-realities-of-sponsorships

The Realities of Sponsorships

Right now a lot of tournament fishermen are trying to land sponsor deals for 2015. Consequently, I guess it’s pretty accurate to say that the No. 1 question any long-term pro angler gets asked this time of year is, “How do I get sponsors?” READ MORE »