UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2019 - Potomac River

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Digging deep down the homestretch

Digging deep down the homestretch
No one knows the ledge game better than National Guard pro Mark Rose. Rose has three wins on the Tennessee River and is a favorite this week on Kentucky Lake.

GILBERTSVILLE, Ky. - The first four Walmart FLW Tour Majors of 2011 were predominantly shallow-water affairs. Whether it was twitching a jerkbait, sight-fishing for spawning bass or flipping lay-downs, most of the pros didn't have to stray far from the bank to catch tournament-winning stringers. But the final two Majors of 2011 will undoubtedly be won offshore - the first starting today on Kentucky Lake.

Separated by the wildlife-rich Land Between the Lakes, Kentucky and Barkley are a favorite for tournament bass fishermen. On most lakes, the bite slows considerably as the dog days of summer settle in. But on Kentucky and Barkley, the bite is at its best in mid-June, provided an angler knows how to probe deep cover and structure. Secondly, with over 210,000 acres of water combined, the two lakes are absolutely massive and provide the rare opportunity for the field to spread out.

"This is one of the greatest lakes in the whole world, and these guys are going to smash them this week," said EverStart pro Ron Shuffield. "It doesn't matter if you stay up by the dam or run south; there's plenty of fish all over the lake. This whole area is truly an outdoorsman's paradise."

As a classic summertime tournament, nearly every pro will be fishing some kind of ledge, hump or Walmart FLW Tour pros patiently wait for the start of day one on Kentucky Lake.point in the main river channel. What determines an angler's success out deep is the combination of shell beds, grass and current. The last of these three is usually the most important on Tennessee River impoundments. If the TVA is pulling water, the fishing promises to be lights out. If not, there are usually two brief windows of feeding activity - early morning and late afternoon.

These deep fish can be caught via a number of baits including heavy jigs, big worms, crankbaits and swimbaits. Lately, spoons have been the Kentucky Lake craze, especially in sunny conditions when the metal flash can be seen from a distance.

"Guys might crank early and then start dragging the bottom," Shuffield added. "I think the Texas-rigged worms, Carolina rigs and jigs are going to play bigger this year than in years past. The bigger bass don't seem to be quite as aggressive coming up to bite."

For those who don't want to fish deep, Barkley offers shallower, stained water and a plethora of bushes. Thanks to an unusually wet spring, the lake level is still slightly above summer pool, which means there is water up in the bushes. While the tournament is not expected to be won shallow, a few pros could potentially make the top-20 cut flipping.

The most popular areas the past few years have been down south around Paris, Tenn., and New Johnsonville, Tenn. While productive, Paris is 40 miles south from Kentucky Lake Dam Marina and New Johnsonville is another 35 miles farther. And the word on the street is that the bite down south is off a bit. That's in part because the spring floods have put the hydrilla growth behind schedule.

Either way, good schools of bass can and will be caught on both the north and south ends. Whoever pulls up to the right school at the right time can catch 20-plus pounds in a hurry. The tricky part is finding the schools that hold the 3- to 5-pounders as many are just loaded with 13- and 14-inchers.

"I've got some stuff, some areas that I'm excited about, but it's all about timing," said National Guard pro Mark Rose. "I don't have quite as many schools as I'd like. But if I hit them just right, I could have Kentucky Lake Dam Marina bustles with activity Thursday morning.a good day."

Shuffield thinks while nearly everyone will have their five-bass limit, separation will exist between the very top of the leaderboard and the guys on the bubble for a $10,000 check.

"I think you'll see a handful of guys that really catch them, and then the weights down around 50th place will be a little bit lighter than in years past. I still think it will take over 80 pounds for four days to win this tournament."

Logistics

Anglers will take off from Kentucky Dam Marina located at 466 Marina Drive in Gilbertsville, Ky., at 6 Thursday and Friday mornings and Ken-Lake State Park Marina located at 542 Ken-Lake Road in Hardin, Ky., at 6 Saturday and Sunday mornings. Thursday and Friday's weigh-ins will also be held at Kentucky Dam Marina beginning at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday's final weigh-ins will be held at the Murray State University - CFSB Center located at 1401 State Route 121 N. in Murray beginning at 4 p.m.

Fans will be treated to the FLW Outdoors Expo at the Murray State University - CFSB Center on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. prior to the final weigh-ins. The first 300 kids 14 and under on Sunday will receive a free rod and reel combo compliments of 93.3 WKYQ. Fans can also register to win a Can-Am ATV courtesy of The Paducah Sun which will be given away following the final weigh-in. The Expo includes Ranger boat simulators, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and fans can learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public.

In FLW Tour competition, pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day, with pros supplying the boat, controlling boat movement and competing against other pros. Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers. The full field competes in the two-day opening round. After day two the field is pared to the top 20 pros and co-anglers. The co-angler competition concludes at Saturday's weigh-in and the top-10 pros continue competition Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from all four days.

On the Web

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.

In addition to FLW Live, FLWOutdoors.com is offering real-time updates from the water throughout each day of the Kentucky Lake event. Simply click on the "On the Water Coverage" banner from any of the home pages.

Thursday's conditions

Sunrise: 5:35 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 62 degrees
Expected high temperature: 92 degrees
Water temperature: 81-85 degrees
Wind: SSW at 7 mph
Maximum humidity: 47 percent
Day's outlook: mostly sunny

Tags: brett-carlson  morning-story  2011-06-16-kentucky-lake 

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