UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - James River

Fishing is the Test for these College Anglers

Fishing is the Test for these College Anglers

Thoughts of schoolwork temporarily aside, 201 collegiate teams will renew friendly rivalries this weekend in FLW College Fishing’s second annual Kentucky Lake Open. Two-angler squads from as far away as Minnesota and Louisiana left Moors Resort & Marina Friday morning to take on a lake that’s been tempest-tossed by stormy weather lately, but nevertheless is producing sizeable bags of bass.  

Will the powerhouse teams of the Tennessee River Valley dominate the two-day event? Several are entered, with the Bethel University juggernaut from McKenzie, Tenn., leading the pack. The Wildcats, who placed three teams in the top 10 last year, have 10 teams entered this year. Likewise, Murray State University from nearby Murray, Ky. is sending out 10 boats and Bryan College from Dayton, Tenn., on Lake Chickamauga is fishing seven teams.

In all, 87 schools are represented and eager to prove that skill, not familiarity with the Tennessee River impoundment, is the real prerequisite for success. Last year, the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville won the Open with 43-12, with the University of Alabama finishing a close second.

 

About the Fishery

Kentucky Lake never fishes small. The massive TVA impoundment covers more than 160,000 acres and has 2,000 miles of shoreline – a lot of which will be explored by contestants in the FLW College Fishing Kentucky Lake Open the next two days. Just in case the anglers don’t think they have enough elbow room, they can always run to Barkley Lake, which is connected to Kentucky Lake via a canal near the north end of both impoundments.

 

Tactics in Play

Because of its size, Kentucky Lake can support a number of patterns at the same time. Last year in the first Open, the best catches came from areas where anglers intercepted bass that were staging in the prespawn. That’s likely to be the case this year, and covering broad expanses of water with umbrella rigs and lipless crankbaits is likely to be a popular approach. A second pattern involves skipping various soft plastics under main-lake docks. Aggressive male bass are roaming the banks and flats inside and outside the big spawning coves now and should provide a quick limit in water anywhere from about 3 feet deep out to the first drop-offs. Transition bottoms where chunk rock and gravel bottoms – especially main-lake points – meet should pay off as well for anglers casting umbrella rigs, jerkbaits and squarebills.

 

Critical Factors

Wind is the wild card at Kentucky Lake, which runs in a north-south direction and can turn dangerous, if not deadly, when winds blow from either of those directions. In Thursday’s last practice day, several boats developed mechanical problems due to the pounding they took. Fortunately, a west wind of between 12 and 16 miles an hour is forecast for the next couple of days. Boat rides won’t be comfortable, but at least they’ll be manageable for teams that want to try their luck toward the south end near Paris, Tenn., and beyond.

As far as the water temperature, lake level and color, they’re typical for this time of year. If anything, the water is a few degrees warmer now than when the first Open was held in 2015.

“The lake has cleared up quite a bit from a couple of weeks ago,” says FLW Tour pro Terry Bolton, who fished the lake Wednesday. “I think it’s around 256 feet, or about 2 feet above winter pool. It might come up a bit more. There’s a little bit of stain to it because the wind has been blowing so hard, but the LBL side [the east side of the lake, bordered by Land Between the Lakes] is fairly clean. Overall the lake appears to be in pretty good shape.”

 

Dock Talk

“I think you’ll be able to catch some fish on just about everything,” opines Eastern Kentucky University’s Caleb Baker. “The fish are so scattered out now it’s ridiculous, but when we got on them, they were biting for us.”

Baker and teammate Dillon Lewis practice Thursday and the former caught a 7 ½-pound largemouth. However, Baker notes that the pair covered a lot of water and never found a sizeable concentration of fish anywhere.

Last weekend, in the annual Jet-a-Marine, it took a 20-pound stringer to make the top 10. The winners, Mike Sims and Mike Hovekamp, had five fish that totaled 23-14. They reported they caught most of their limit on umbrella rigs.

 

Tournament Details

Take Off Times: Days 1 & 2, 6:30 a.m.

Take Off Location: Moors Resort & Marina, 570 Moors Road, Gilbertsville, KY

Weigh-In Times: Days 1 & 2, 2:30 p.m.

Weigh-In Location: Moors Resort & Marina

 

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Day 1 Takeoff

 

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Tags: college-fishing  kentucky-lake  colin-moore  morning-story  2016-04-01-kentucky-barkley-lake 

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