June 29, 2014 by Colin Moore
PARIS LANDING, Tenn. – The third time was indeed the charm for Cody Kelley here at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Evinrude on Kentucky Lake, as the Arkansas fisherman won the co-angler title with a combined stringer weight of 54 pounds, 9 ounces.
It was Kelley’s third tournament on Kentucky Lake, and, while the results of the previous two were uneventful, this one proved to be quite profitable for him. Kelley edged out Joe McClary of Missouri by 8 ounces to claim the top prize of $20,000. McClary got $7,000, while third-place finisher John Wilson took home $5,000.
Kelley fished with pros Brandon Cobb, Brent Long and Tom Redington in the competition and paired his ledge-fishing knowledge with the pros’ ability to locate fish for a winning combination.
“What helped me is that all three of my pro partners knew how to read fish and when to stay on a ledge or move if the fish didn’t seem to be active,” says Kelley. “For instance, today [Saturday], Tom Redington and I fished the big stretch of lake between Kenlake [State Park Resort] and Moor’s [Resort]. We didn’t just stop and fish every place where we marked fish, though. If they were off to the side suspended in deeper water, or not bunched up on a ledge, we just kept moving. It was an efficient use of time.”
On the other hand, Kelley says Long fished the same spot as if he had nothing but time, and it also yielded fish. Kelley boated his best stringer, 21-2, in the second round while fishing with the North Carolina pro and moved into the co-angler lead for good.
“We stayed in the same place all day long. He [Long] is very patient and will stick with a spot if he feels that the payoff is going to come sooner or later,” adds Kelley. “I wouldn’t say the fish really got fired up, but we did catch some good stringers.”
Kelley used a Crock-O-Gator Swamp Bug Senior on a jighead, a Zoom Magnum Finesse worm in green pumpkin magic rigged Texas-style or a custom-made 1 ½-ounce spinnerbait to amass his total.
“I was really nervous going out today. I thought I would need a minimum of 17 or 18 pounds to win,” says Kelley. “I had everything I weighed in by 10 o’clock and only caught one more fish after that. So it was a pretty stressful day.”
Kelley’s bonus is that he has qualified to fish the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Murray in August.
McClary went through an arsenal of ledge baits in his effort to match his pros’ style of fishing. He was paired by Lionel Botha on day one and weighed in 18-8. On the second day, fishing with Rob Kilbee, McClary caught 17-7. In the championship round, he was paired with Skip Johnson and tallied 18-2, the day’s best co-angler stringer.
“This is as close as I’ve come to winning. It’s especially disappointing to get this close and not win, but it is what it is,” observes McClary. “I think the key turning point for me was when I lost a 5-pounder at the boat with about 10 minutes to go in the second round.”
McClary rotated ¾-ounce D&L football jigs with Pocket Craw trailers, various drop-shot baits, swimbaits and Zoom Trick Worms to catch his weight.
Most of the South Carolina co-angler’s fish came on a Carolina rig teamed with a Zoom Trick Worm in green pumpkin magic. He drew partners Philip Jarabeck, Terry Bolton and Andy Morgan and tallied stringers of 17-7, 15-1 and 17-14, respectively.
“I had three awesome partners,” says Wilson. “I fished around the fish because of them, and their style of fishing pretty much matched up with mine.”