UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - Santee Cooper

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

High Water Challenges College Open Field

High Water Challenges College Open Field

This week’s YETI FLW College Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake could see fish dispersed by flood conditions that have expanded the playing field. When 216 teams from around the country take to this massive Tennessee River reservoir, theirs will be a complicated task with equal measures of great potential and great challenge.

Whichever team navigates the conditions best will take home a new Ranger Z175 with 115-hp outboard, while the top 21 teams will earn early qualification for the 2019 YETI FLW College Fishing National Championship.

Tournament details

 

About the fishery

Adjacent lakes separated by the Land Between the Lakes Recreation Area, Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley are linked by the 1.75-mile Barkley Canal. Both lakes are open to fishing this week, and each presents a viable option, it’s likely that Kentucky will see the majority of the fishing effort.

Completed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1944, 22 miles upstream from the confluence of the Tennessee and Ohio rivers, Kentucky Dam is the longest in the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) system (8,422 feet). Its reservoir, which stretches for 184 miles across Kentucky and Tennessee, is the largest in the eastern U.S., with 2,064 miles of shoreline and 160,300 surface acres at summer pool.

Running roughly parallel to Kentucky Lake, Lake Barkley was created by its namesake dam on the Cumberland River. Stretching 134.2 miles, Barkley covers 58,000 acres.

Both lakes offer a mix of coves and pockets, docks, shoreline wood, and grass.

 

Current conditions

As of 6 p.m. Monday night, Kentucky Lake stood at 364 feet. The record high was 372.5 (May 4, 2011), but this week’s level is still significantly higher than normal summer pool of 359 feet.

This is the result of inflow and outflow dynamics. First, the Tennessee River system saw double the annual average for rainfall in February, so Kentucky Lake received a lot of water. Typically, the TVA would release water at an appropriate rate to manage the lake for the desired level. However, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with which the TVA coordinates for flood control, has directed the TVA to hold back water releases to prevent further impacts on the flooding Ohio and Mississippi rivers.

In addition to high water, anglers will contend with a cold front pushing through the area. Morning temperatures were forecast to be in the low to mid-30s, with daytime highs only reaching the mid-50s.

“I think that’s going to make an already tough bite tougher,” says Bryan College’s Nathan Bell, who partners with Cold Sands. “It’s going to be hard to get a bite.”

Dylan True, who won last year’s event on Kentucky Lake with his UT Martin teammate Matthew Lamastus, says he believes that some of the lake’s fish are moving shallow, but many are still holding on prespawn staging areas such as points. The difficulty will be reaching those staging fish.

“All the places we caught them last year are 15 to 20 feet deep,” he says. “It’s hard to get down there – if there are still fish down there.”

 

Tactics in play

Lacking any practice consistency, Sands says he and Bell plan on hopping around several spots and junk-fishing.

“We’re just going to stick to main-lake rock and beat that to death to catch a limit,” he says. “Then we might go up shallow and flip to try and catch a big one.”

Bethel University’s John Garrett, who lives 30 minutes from Kentucky Lake, says he thinks the winning team will commit to flipping shallow shoreline cover, cranking outside the shoreline cover or fishing current breaks.

“The fish are in the same current break areas they were a couple of weeks ago, which is on the main river. They just have 10 more feet of water on them,” Garrett says. “Last week, we were throwing a Strike King KVD 1.5, and this week we’re throwing an 8.0 and a 5XD.

“Also, there aren’t as many fish on those current breaks because there’s more water. When the river is skinny, there are more fish on the current breaks.”

 

Critical factors

Water-level impacts are undeniable, but wind will also play a major role. The day-one forecast calls for southwest winds of 15 mph, but day two will bring strong northwest winds. The different directions will likely scramble a few game plans. Strong winds could create a time challenge, too, as anglers navigate open waters.

 

Dock Talk

In terms of what Kentucky Lake will yield this week, Sands says it’s anyone’s guess.

“The lake is changing so fast, and it’s so inconsistent right now,” he says. “There are people who were catching fish last week who aren’t catching them this week. I think someone’s going to luck up and find a decent bag of fish, but I still don’t think it’s going to take a lot of weight to win. I think 16 to 17 pounds a day will have a really good shot at winning.”

Garrett says he’d normally want to run past Paris, Tenn., as far as New Johnsonville, but given the projected rough conditions, he’ll limit his run to the Paris area.

“I can see it taking 18 a day to win, and I can see it taking up to 20 a day to win,” Garrett says. “There are a lot of big fish, and they’re eating good. You just have to get around them.

“I think it’s going to be a grind, but I think it’s going to take some good weight to win.”

If any statement summarizes the current Kentucky Lake flood situation, it’s this from University of North Georgia’s Levi Baker: “I caught a fish today by flipping a picnic table.”

 

Tournament details

Dates: March 6-7, 2018

Host: Kentucky Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau

Format: All teams will compete for two days. The winners will be determined by the heaviest cumulative two-day weight.

Takeoff Time: 7:30 a.m. CT

Takeoff Location: Kentucky Dam State Park, 466 Marina Dr., Gilbertsville, KY 42044

Weigh-in Time: 3 p.m. CT

Weigh-Iin Location: Kentucky Dam State Park

Tags: david-a-brown  morning-story  2018-03-06-kentucky-barkley-lakes 

Top 10 Patterns from Kentucky Lake

Top 10 Patterns from Kentucky Lake

Power-fishing tactics with spinnerbaits, jigs, Texas rigs and ChatterBaits on prespawn cover and structure dominated the top 10 at Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley in April. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Kentucky Lake

Top 10 Baits from Kentucky Lake

April is transition time in the Tennessee Valley, when bass make their push from prespawn staging areas toward spawning grounds. They set up on rocky banks, shallow points and any kind of wood cover near shore in areas adjacent to spawning pockets. As we saw at the Costa FLW Series Central Division opener presented by Lowrance on Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley, some of the best baits for catching bass this time of year are old-school springtime classics: spinnerbaits, jigs, shallow-running crankbaits and Texas rigs. Add in vibrating jigs and wobble-head jigs, and you have about all you need. READ MORE »

Co-angler Bickers Wins by Ounces

Co-angler Bickers Wins by Ounces

One fish is unlikely to win a three-day tournament, but the right one can help an angler dig out of a hole. Just ask co-angler Troy Bickers, who rebounded from the dreaded day-one goose egg to go worst-to-first in the Costa FLW Series Central Division opener presented by Lowrance on Kentucky Lake with a winning weight of 20 pounds, 14 ounces. READ MORE »

Morris Closes it Out on Barkley

Morris Closes it Out on Barkley

With just two fish in the bag, Jake Morris was noticeably nervous at the final weigh-in of the Costa FLW Series Central Division event presented by Lowrance on Kentucky Lake. Fortunately for him, he didn’t need either one of them, as Morris caught enough the first two days to top the next closest finisher. Catching 5-12 today punctuated the wire-to-wire victory for Morris, who brought in 44-2 in three days. He caught almost every fish on a spinnerbait from one key stretch on Lake Barkley. READ MORE »

Kentucky Lake Midday Update – Day 3

Kentucky Lake Midday Update – Day 3

Question marks are about the only certainty for day three of the Costa FLW Series Central Division event presented by Lowrance on Kentucky Lake, as the top 10 pros scattered and left us lean on details on a day where changing weather could see changing fortunes. After two dreary days of cloudy, dim conditions, the final round brought lots of the bright, sunny stuff that pushes fish tighter to cover and makes them easier to target. Also, considerably more warmth may very well put the giddy-up on seasonal progression. No one’s getting too crazy with visions of heavy bed-fishing, but accelerated prespawn movement is certainly possible. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from Kentucky Lake – Day 2

Top 5 Patterns from Kentucky Lake – Day 2

Spinnerbaits, crankbaits and vibrating jigs fished on rocky staging areas has been the primary pattern for catching big prespawn largemouth bass on Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley at the Costa FLW Series Central Division event presented by Lawrence. READ MORE »

Morris Still the Man on Top

Morris Still the Man on Top

Jake Morris of McKee, Ky., didn’t have the outing he wanted today. The tournament leader at the Costa FLW Series Central Division event presented by Lowrance on Kentucky Lake weighed in just three fish for 13 pounds, 12 ounces. Thankfully, his impressive 24-plus-pound day-one performance helped him hold off local ace Cole Floyd, who moved up a few spots to second. Morris leads Floyd by 7-6 going into the final round.  READ MORE »

Kentucky Lake Midday Update – Day 2

Kentucky Lake Midday Update – Day 2

Day two of the Costa FLW Series Central Division event presented by Lowrance on Kentucky Lake has seen more cloudy skies and a slight rise in temperature. However, the lack of wind presents enough of a difference to fiddle with the power-fishing patterns that produced on day one. After weighing 24 pounds, 10 ounces on day one, pro leader Jake Morris carried a lead of 4-9 into today’s competition. He might end up cherishing that big opening round, as the second morning was not as generous. Mostly throwing a spinnerbait, he boated a 5-pounder early, but a lost fish hurt him, and a lack of bites suggests his go-to area might be drying up. READ MORE »

Kentucky Lake Midday Update - Day 1

Kentucky Lake Midday Update - Day 1

It looks like the prediction of slim pickings with occasional pots of gold is holding true for day one of the Costa FLW Series Central Division opener on Kentucky Lake. We covered a lot of water and snooped around the usual haunts, as well as some tucked-away spots; but bent rods were rare. READ MORE »

Everything’s in Play on Kentucky Lake

Everything’s in Play on Kentucky Lake

A squad of 147 boaters and their co-anglers partners enjoyed a pleasant spring morning in western Kentucky for the start of the Costa FLW Series Central Division tournament presented by Lowrance on Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from Kentucky Lake – Day 1

Top 5 Patterns from Kentucky Lake – Day 1

Most of the top pros found their best action using moving baits such as spinnerbaits, crankbaits and jigs to fish shallow water where prespawn bass are starting to slide up and stage for the spawn. READ MORE »

Morris Bags 24-10 on Kentucky

Morris Bags 24-10 on Kentucky

Jake Morris of McKee, Ky., caught 24 pounds, 10 ounces of bass on Kentucky Lake to take the day-one lead at the Costa FLW Series Central Division season opener. He has a 4-9 lead over Jimmy Washam. READ MORE »

Big Bags on Horizon at Chickamauga

Big Bags on Horizon at Chickamauga

Day one of the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division event presented by T-H Marine is underway, and by all indications, the fishery is set up to churn out some mega-bags throughout the event. Even during practice, with the water falling well below normal levels, 7-, 8- and 9-pounders weren’t uncommon. Now, with the best anglers in the southeast hard at it, you can expect fireworks. READ MORE »

College Open Weigh-in to Start at Noon

College Open Weigh-in to Start at Noon

Day one of the YETI FLW College Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake was phenomenal in terms of the fishing, and while that may be the case for day two, strong winds forced FLW officials to cut the tournament short by a few hours. READ MORE »

Good Conditions Greet College Open Field

Good Conditions Greet College Open Field

The YETI FLW College Fishing Open on Kentucky and Barkley Lakes returns to FLW’s home waters this morning, as a full field of anglers prepare to take off for the fifth iteration of the two-day event, hosted by the Kentucky Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau and Moors Resort & Marina. READ MORE »

Rise and Grind Time at Lake Mead

Rise and Grind Time at Lake Mead

Strong winds on the heels of a prolonged cold-weather period may prove to turn the Costa FLW Series Western Division opener into a true grind fest this week as pros and co-anglers take off from Callville Bay – Forever Resorts on Lake Mead in southern Nevada. READ MORE »

A Different Okeechobee

A Different Okeechobee

Cold fronts, dirty water and lower water levels make for an interesting start to the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division season. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Amistad

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Amistad

Wintertime patterns with just a touch of prespawn action dominated the Costa FLW Series opener presented by Ranger Boats on Lake Amistad. Crankbaits, jerkbaits, umbrella rigs, swimbaits and drop-shots were the go-to baits used by the top finishers. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Lake Amistad

Top 10 Baits from Lake Amistad

Wintertime bass fishing tactics dominated at Lake Amistad in January, as the top finishers relied on jerkbaits, crankbaits, drop-shots, swimbaits and umbrella rigs to get the job done. READ MORE »

Childs Holds on for Co-angler Win

Childs Holds on for Co-angler Win

Jay Childs caught two giant largemouths on day one, along with a smaller keeper, to take the early lead at Lake Amistad. Then he survived today for the win with a pair of keepers that included one smallmouth. READ MORE »