UPCOMING EVENT: FLW SERIES - 2020 - Toledo Bend Lake

Top 10 Patterns from Kentucky Lake

Top 10 Patterns from Kentucky Lake
MICHAEL MATTHEE

The fishing was downright bad for most in the 2017 Costa FLW Series Championship on Kentucky Lake. Instead of a strong topwater bite or a taste of the winter umbrella rig bite, most of the top finishers – outside of tournament-winner Bradford Beavers – had to scramble around and fish odd patterns or do a little bit of everything. Out of 192 boats, only seven pros limited each of the first two days, and only Beavers managed three limits in a row.

Beavers’ winning pattern

Top 10 baits

Complete results

 

Todd Hollowell

2. The north end produces for Hollowell

Todd Hollowell and his brother, Troy, have a stellar reputation on Kentucky Lake, particularly when the offshore ledge-fishing bite isn’t in full swing. This week, Hollowell scratched out nine quality fish over the first two days, but could only land two big ones on the final day for a 37-pound, 7-ounce total.

“I avoided the south end of the lake,” he says. “I have a lot of history on the south end of the lake, but I felt like all of the fishing pressure would take its toll, and I feel like the numbers on this lake are way down. I didn’t want to get into a situation where I ran 10 or 15 miles south and there were two boats on the place I wanted to fish.”

Hollowell ended up fishing north all the way to the dam. Fishing a combo of shallow bars (2 to 5 feet deep) with topwaters and ledges and creek channel drops (15 to 25 feet deep) with an umbrella rig, single swimbait and a Carolina rig, Hollowell was able to target a handful of places that he had all to himself. For topwaters he threw a popper, a River2Sea Whopper Plopper and a Heddon Super Spook, all on braid with a new 7-foot, 3-inch fiberglass rod called the Bad Dude that he designed for Elite Rods.

“It [the two-part pattern] made it really hard to run a milk run and get my timing down because they were all 13 or 14 miles apart. I feel like I only started to get my timing down today [Saturday],” says the Kentucky Lake veteran. “I thought that deep-and-shallow combo was the way to win this event. The topwater fish I was catching were all 4-plus, but I really didn’t think I could get more than a couple bites a day doing it. But if I could mix in a few keepers a day to go with those big fish I thought 14 or 15 pounds a day would give you a chance. I just didn’t find enough stuff. I found enough to squeak into the top 10, but not enough for today.”

 

Larry Stoafer

3. Stoafer goes way south

Larry Stoafer and Chad Foster both stretched Kentucky Lake to the limits, running way south past New Johnsonville and fishing past the US-412 bridge in Linden, Tenn. Stoafer limited each of the first two days, but could only manage one fish on the final day for a 34-13 total.

Essentially fishing the Tennessee River, Stoafer tossed a bone-colored Reaction Innovations Vixen when it was windy and swapped to a Keitech 3.8 Swing Impact Fat swimbait in sexy shad rigged on a 1/4-ounce Buckeye Lures J-Will jighead when it was calm. He targeted shallow bars and the mouths of creeks that came off the main river, running 15 or more spots each day to catch his fish.

“My fourth or fifth cast today [Saturday] I had a 4-pounder porpoise me twice and never get hooked up. I thought it was gonna be on. The wind was right and everything, but it never got good,” says Stoafer, who decided to go south after a brutal practice. “It was the worst practice I’ve ever had in tournament fishing. I wanted to fish up there [the upper end of the lake]. My gut told me it was where I could get away, so I did a little soul searching and trusted my instincts and went up there.”

Though he fell short of a win, burning 37-plus gallons of gas a day paid off with $23,500 and his first Forrest Wood Cup qualification.

 

Tim Fox

4. Fox hammers on day two

Tim Fox came into the tournament with little experience on Kentucky Lake but plenty of advice from good friend and fellow competitor David Lee. Lee ended up blanking both days, but Fox caught three on day one and backed it up with an 18-6 bag on day two to make the cut.

“Late yesterday [Friday] afternoon I had two fish, and I had run out of stuff to do,” says Fox. “I saw a windblown shallow point, and I went there for the last hour. I caught four keepers in four casts, and I culled. I weighed in my 18 pounds from that spot.”

Fox’s magic point was nearby takeoff in Big Sandy Creek, but he fished plenty of shallow bars to the south as well. He says he caught 80 percent of his fish on an Evergreen Shower Blows 125 in bone color and the rest on a 1/2-ounce Z-Man/Evergreen Jack Hammer vibrating jig with a white Lake Fork Boot Tail Live Magic Shad trailer.

Fox crossed his fingers for more success on day three, but he arrived at his key point to different conditions. The wind had shifted overnight, and the mudline he keyed on was gone. The fish were, too. 

 

Chad Foster

5. Foster runs out of gas

Just like Stoafer, Chad Foster headed way south of New Johnsonville for his fish. He caught enough for the lead after day two, but zeroed on the final day and ran out of gas on the way back to top it off. Nonetheless, he still made the Forrest Wood Cup in his first full year fishing the Costa FLW Series.

“The whole deal for fishing these in general was to make the Cup,” says Foster. “That’s what I wanted to do. All I wanted to do was to fish in August and go catch bass in the Forrest Wood Cup.”

Foster essentially fished the same game plan as Stoafer, hitting mouths of creeks and little drains off the Tennessee River. The best spots had both gizzard shad and wood cover around them.

“In practice I wanted to find something around Paris, because I know how the north wind can turn this lake up really fast,” says Foster. “All the first day of practice I looked for that, and I caught three keepers all day. I enjoy river fishing, so on day two I put in at new Johnsonville and I went even farther south, and I started getting bit. The farther I’d go the more I kept getting bit.”

When it was cold in practice Foster found his fish with a YUM YUMBrella Flash Mob with the blades removed. He rigged it with Bass Pro Shops Speed Shad swimbaits and Outkast Tackle Goldeneye Swimbait Jigheads. With warmer conditions in the tournament he fished a bit shallower and primarily tossed a bone-colored Heddon Saltwater Super Spook.

 

JOHN SOUKUP

6. Clear water is the deal for Soukup

Rolling in to Kentucky Lake for the first time from Oklahoma, John Soukup fished a diverse pattern that produced really well on the first two days.

Fishing around Big Sandy, he targeted coves with the clearest water he could find, catching the fish with a vibrating jig cast almost on the bank as well as a walking bait. Additionally, fishing an umbrella rig on one offshore spot provided him with a keeper each of the first two days.

“There were three or four coves, and then I found three or four rock piles,” says Soukup. “Most of my fish were coming off specific spots, but I didn’t really know that until I fished them. I had about a mile section I fished that produced.”

His water was clear the first day, but it turned dingy with the rain on day two. Even so, he still managed to catch a limit and did damage in the afternoon on the vibrating jig that day. His water was clearer than ever on the final day, but he could never make anything happen despite getting exactly the conditions he was looking for.

 

Bryan Thrift

7. Big day one carries Thrift

Bryan Thrift has smashed more than 27 pounds twice on the Tennessee River – once in 2015 in the Costa FLW Series on Lake Guntersville when an umbrella rig delivered him 27-15, and this week on Kentucky Lake when he hammered 27-8 on a topwater. Unfortunately for Thrift, his big start was more magic than pattern, and he caught two more keepers on day two and zero on day three.

Thrift caught ’em on day one throwing a topwater over shallow bars with stumps, but that pattern fizzled at light speed on the following days.

“I wasn’t on anything. That’s why it didn’t happen,” says Thrift. “I knew the first day that was a miracle bag. It was a product of desperation. I knew I wasn’t on anything, and I knew they catch big ones on topwater, and I’m hard-headed and threw it all day and got five good bites.”

He chalked up one on a shaky head and one on a buzzbait on day two, and went for broke again with the topwater on the final day.

 

Jason Abram

8. Abram flips for it

Slinging a homemade jig and a barely legal-sized Reaction Innovations Vixen, Jason Abram headed down around New Johnsonville every day and was very successful until the brutal final day.

“I was fishing vertical structure,” says Abram. “If it was a pole or a pylon or a tree or anything, I was flipping it. I think the cold weather pushed them around, but they didn’t move out; they just moved down on the vertical stuff.”

Abram fished within a radius of a few miles of the bridge at New Johnsonville and had about eight stops that he ran over and over. He culled each of the first two days fishing the Vixen on riprap in between his flipping targets.

“I’ve never been to Kentucky Lake this time of year, and it really shocked me how different it fishes,” says Abram, who has fished the FLW Tour a lot over the years. “It’s a lot more my style. They can bring it here in the fall anytime. I like tough, grinding tournaments. I don’t like ledge fishing. I like getting on a pattern and just running the lake.”

 

MICHAEL MATTHEE

9. Matthee succeeds in the U.S.

Topping the International Division, Michael Matthee hails from South Africa and had never fished in the United States before dropping down on Kentucky Lake for the Costa FLW Series Championship.

After only three days of practice, Matthee settled on fishing south of Paris.  

“I tried to look for deep and shallow water, a combination of the two,” says Matthee. “If my boat was in 10 feet and I was throwing up into 3 I was happy. And if I found a bank with chunk rock that was good.”

On flatter banks he tossed a bone-colored Heddon Super Spook Jr., and he relied on an umbrella rig with 1/8-ounce heads and 3-inch swimbaits on the steeper banks. All week, Matthee deliberately fished his topwater slowly with lots of pauses and avoided the crowded bars, instead focusing on the banks.

“I had four [keepers] and four the first two days, and I caught every one of those fish before nine,” says Matthee, who only managed one keeper on the fog-shortened final day. “Today [Saturday] we left at nine.”

 

Bill Chapman

10. Chapman does it again

Bill Chapman is a certifiable hammer, and his laid-back style has earned him 23 top-10 finishes over the years and qualified him for the Forrest Wood Cup in two of the last three seasons.

“I’m a shallow-water fisherman. I go as shallow as I can go,” says Chapman. “In practice I came down before the cutoff and found two areas with shallow fish I was confident in, but the problem was one was 40 miles one way and one was 20 miles the other way.”

Chapman chose the close one, and ran north to Blood River each day. He caught them all day the first day, but his second day was cut short when muddy water rolled into the creek and stifled his bite. The third day was simply a wash.

The West Virginia pro mostly used two green pumpkin-orange jigs – a War Eagle Heavy Finesse Jig and an Eakins jig – with Zoom Super Chunk Jr. trailers. He fished docks, some shallow rock piles in about 2 feet of water, as well as a sharp drop on the end of one sandbar. That particular sand drop produced more than 30 fish through the course of the event, but he never replicated the size he caught in practice. 

Tags: jody-white  post-tournament  2017-11-02-championship-kentucky-lake 

Wrapping up Practice with Osborne

Wrapping up Practice with Osborne

Last season, Jordan Osborne made the top 10 in the season opener on Sam Rayburn, and he’s got the chance to kick things off in a similar style this week. READ MORE »

Day 2 of Practice with Miller

Day 2 of Practice with Miller

At just 20 years old, Colby Miller is pretty young to be a rookie on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit. However, the Elmer, La., native isn’t lacking in accolades, as he’s now finished 24th or better in points in the Southwestern Division of the FLW Series two years in a row. Additionally, he’s starting the season close to home – Miller guides for bass and crappie on nearby Toledo Bend, and he’s got a lot of tournament time in on Sam Rayburn. READ MORE »

Riding Rayburn with Tutt

Riding Rayburn with Tutt

One of the nicest and most experienced pros on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit, Jim Tutt has fished about everywhere, but he calls Texas home. Last year, Tutt finished fifth in the season-opener on Sam Rayburn, and it’s also where he earned one of his three FLW Series-level wins. READ MORE »

How to Prep Like a Pro

How to Prep Like a Pro

When it comes to getting ready for a season of tournaments, there are plenty of ways to do it. But, there’s no denying that for most people, being prepared will lead to better performance on the water. READ MORE »

2020 Harris Chain Preview

2020 Harris Chain Preview

One of the most fun places FLW visits, the Harris Chain is a collection of lakes in central Florida that includes Lake Harris, Lake Apopka, Lake Griffin, Lake Eustis, Lake Dora, Lake Carlton, Horseshoe Lake, Little Lake Harris, Lake Denham and Lake Beauclair. In all, the pros have the run of 10 lakes, plus the myriad residential canals, rivers and backwaters that spread out off of them. READ MORE »

2020 Lake Hartwell Preview

2020 Lake Hartwell Preview

Built on the Savannah, Tugaloo and Seneca rivers on the border of South Carolina and Georgia, Lake Hartwell is a fairly typical example of a Southeastern spotted bass and largemouth fishery. Though there are shad and bream, the primary forage is blueback herring. Hartwell has very little vegetation outside of flooded dog fennel, and the primary cover types are docks, rock, shoreline wood, brush and cane piles. READ MORE »

2020 Detroit River Preview

2020 Detroit River Preview

Though the Pro Circuit finale takes off from the Detroit River, that’s hardly the only place the pros will be fishing. Takeoff is near the southern mouth of the river, giving pros easy access to the west end of Lake Erie. At the other end of the river is Lake St. Clair, which has been home to some of the most epic smallmouth beatdowns on record in recent years. READ MORE »

Bulldog Division Kicks off at Lake Lanier

Bulldog Division Kicks off at Lake Lanier

Perhaps the hottest spotted bass lake in the East, Lanier should be rocking for the Bulldog Division opener. With lots of plump wintertime spotted bass coming to the scale, along with some largemouths, it would be no surprise to see a winning weight in excess of 20 pounds.   READ MORE »

Choo Choo Division Kicks off at Lake Guntersville

Choo Choo Division Kicks off at Lake Guntersville

According to pro Casey Martin, who once won a BFL on Guntersville with a whopping 40 pounds, 11 ounces, it’s not unreasonable to expect a mid- or upper 20s bag to win this time. READ MORE »

Check-In Time: Matt Becker

Check-In Time: Matt Becker

From time to time, FLW checks in with its anglers to find out what they’ve been up to, what they’re listening to, who they’re following and where they’re heading while out on the tournament trail. This week, we caught up with Matt Becker.  READ MORE »

The Top 19 Stories of 2019

The Top 19 Stories of 2019

From the beginning, 2019 was a good year of fishing. The FLW Tour got off to a rollicking start on Sam Rayburn, and it really stayed pretty great from there, with a lot of good fishing and a killer Angler of the Year race. Beyond the Tour, all the other circuits had plenty of highlights, too. We saw impressive feats accomplished at all levels and some very exciting individual events. READ MORE »

The Top 50 Stories of the Decade - Part 2

The Top 50 Stories of the Decade - Part 2

From start to finish, the last decade was a wild ride for fishing. The top stories are amazingly diverse, with huge business changes, some incredible tournament feats, and entirely new techniques and lures taking center stage. READ MORE »

The Top 50 Stories of the Decade

The Top 50 Stories of the Decade

From start to finish, the last decade was a wild ride for fishing. The top stories are amazingly diverse, with huge business changes, some incredible tournament feats, and entirely new techniques and lures taking center stage. READ MORE »

Reese’s Lake Baccarac Adventure

Reese’s Lake Baccarac Adventure

With a home base of Clear Lake in California, FLW Pro Circuit pro Jimmy Reese is pretty used to phenomenal fishing. But, until Thanksgiving, he’d never sampled the bass fishing in Mexico. Now he has, thanks to a Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits trip to Lake Baccarac Lodge that turned into the trip of a lifetime and produced some truly outstanding fishing. READ MORE »

Woolcott Ready for Year-Two Rebound

Woolcott Ready for Year-Two Rebound

When Tyler Woolcott headed out on Sam Rayburn in January 2019 for his first day of competition as an FLW Tour pro, he took off sandwiched between Brad Knight and Bryan Thrift, two pros starting their 11th and 13th seasons at the front of the boat. In stark contrast, Woolcott was beginning his pro career without having fished as a boater at any level of FLW competition. READ MORE »

How to Fish Offshore Grass in Florida

How to Fish Offshore Grass in Florida

In recent years, fishing a lipless bait, a spinnerbait or a vibrating jig in offshore grass in Florida has lit up the leaderboard in many tournaments. Tyler Woolcott, a second-year pro from Port Orange, Fla., has plenty of experience tracking the bass in offshore grass throughout the seasons, and you might be able to learn a thing or two from him. READ MORE »

How to Catch Winter Bass on Hair Jigs

How to Catch Winter Bass on Hair Jigs

“It’s hard to pass up smallmouths in the winter,” Slegona says. “When they get bunched up out there you can have a lights-out day. So, when that water temp drops below 50, I break out the hair jig box, and I put it away again in the spring when the water gets warm.” READ MORE »

Less Stress and More Fun

Less Stress and More Fun

After qualifying for the FLW Tour out of the FLW Series Northern Division for the second time in 2018, Slegona finally had the money lined up and hit the big leagues. So, he pointed his Tundra and Skeeter toward Texas in December to start an adventure that was a lifetime in the making. READ MORE »

Make a Tiny Swimbait Your Winter Go-To

Make a Tiny Swimbait Your Winter Go-To

Wintertime and late fall fishing can be super fun, especially up north, when smallmouths are often fat and fairly grouped up. However, it’s not the time of year when you want a ton of rods on deck, and having a confidence bait or two is a must. For Casey Smith, the go-to winter weapon is super simple: a little bitty swimbait on a jighead. READ MORE »

Miller Wins Wild Card on Kentucky Lake

Miller Wins Wild Card on Kentucky Lake

Weighing limits of 15 pounds, 13 ounces on day one and 15-3 on day two, Michael Miller of Greenville, S.C., overcame a tough-fishing Kentucky Lake to win the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Wild Card and qualify for the All-American. READ MORE »