UPCOMING EVENT: TACKLE WAREHOUSE PRO CIRCUIT - 2020 - Lake Erie

Ledge Bite Awaits at Barkley and Kentucky

Ledge Bite Awaits at Barkley and Kentucky

Bass anglers of every stripe smile when they think of Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley, the sprawling twin reservoirs that, respectively, mark the lower impoundments on the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers. All bass anglers, including the field of pros and co-anglers who have converged on Lake Barkley State Park for the Costa FLW Series Central Division tournament hosted by Cadiz-Trigg County Tourism and presented by T-H Marine today through Saturday, know what the big lakes can do.

Jason Lambert knows what they can do. Last month the Tennessee-based pro hauled a four-day total of 101 pounds 9 ounces from Kentucky to win the FLW Tour event and earn his third major win on the lake in as many years. “The fish are there,” says Lambert.

It’s no secret where the bass are. By early June the majority have moved toward the ledges that dominate and define both lowland lakes, which spill across the Kentucky-Tennessee state line and, combined, flood nearly 220,000 acres.

 

About the fishery

Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake are man-made reservoirs. Kentucky Lake was impounded on the Tennessee River in 1944 and is the largest artificial lake east of the Mississippi River in terms of surface area. Barkley was impounded in 1966. The lakes are separated by a 40-mile long and 10-mile wide peninsula that forms the core of the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. The lakes are connected by a canal on the north end, and it is about a 26-mile run to go from takeoff in Barkley to the canal to Kentucky. 

Numerous creeks feed the lakes. Grassy, gravel and rocky cover dominate much of the shore cover but ledges marking the many creeks are typically the focus of post spawn, warm weather bass action. Ledge depths can range from 10 to 25 feet.

Kentucky Lake, which is the larger of the two, receives the most fishing pressure and generally attracts more tournament action. “I think at least half the field will fish it,” Lambert says of Kentucky. “It will be won over there, for sure.”

Barkley is managed by the U. S. Corps of Engineers. The Tennessee Valley Authority oversees and manages Kentucky Lake. Summer pool on both lakes is 359 feet, and they’re sitting within an inch or so of that line. Both impoundments have been invaded by Asian carp. What long-term affects the carp will have on the sport fishery is unknown.

 

Current conditions

The lakes are currently a little more stained than normal, and both the Corps and TVA are moving water through the systems. Earlier this week Kentucky Lake had been flowing at an hourly average of 90,000 CFS at the dam. Lake Barkley recorded an average hourly flow of 40,200 CFS. The surface water temperature is around 80 degrees. 

Consistently high flow is not necessarily good news for tournament anglers, according to Lambert.

“It’s actually a little tougher now than when we were here for the Tour,” he says. “There’s a lot of current and a lot of mud, which doesn’t seem to help offshore fishing at all.”

“Offshore” at Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake is a relative term. Here, offshore means ledge cover. A combo of off-colored water and current can be tricky.

“There’s not a lot you can do,” Lambert says. “This time of year these fish just want to be deep. They want to live offshore and it’s going to be hard to find them in that mud. They’re going to move around and push around as the stained water moves.”

 

Tactics in play

Though some anglers could find success shallow, especially south on Barkley, the majority of the action will probably be typical ledge fishing. Even with a little dirtier water than normal, jigs and spoons and swimbaits and the ultra-famous Castaic Jerky J will all work. One bait that Lambert thinks might play more than usual will be a deep crankbait – dingier water means a more aggressive presentation could be clutch.

 

Critical factors

  • Water clarity – “Kentucky has some stained water, but there’s no rain in the forecast so it should clear up some,” says guide and tournament angler Scott Patton. “The water has been a little high and the bluegill and redear are spawning, and there’s been a some (bass) shallow. But these bass are moving out to the ledges. I’d probably just fish the ledges all the way.”
  • Getting a spot – Kentucky Lake still isn’t fishing like it has in year past. Actually getting a place to yourself could be at a premium.
  • Weather – “Sunshine helps the ledge bite,” Patton notes. “I think the ledge bite is just going to get better as the tournament goes along. Saturday should be exciting.”

 

Dock talk

There’s a general feeling – often unspoken – that the twin lakes aren’t quite the bass factories they once were. The lakes’ ages are coming into play – especially Kentucky, which was impounded more than 70 years ago. The influx of Asian carp has also affected the fishery. But just when you think the lakes have seen their best days a guy like Lambert comes along and boats an average of 25 pounds a day for four straight days. No one complains about that.

Lambert predicts it will take an average of 24 to 25 pounds a day to win this week’s event.

“I still think it’s going to take more than 70 pounds for three days to win it,” he says. “I caught more than a 100 pounds in four days two weeks ago. So they live here.”

Patton understands that fishermen are always hungry for local information but cautions against info overload.

“Kentucky and Barkley fish differently than any other lakes in the country,” says Patton. “A lot of guys listen to too much bad talk about the lakes. The bass are here. You have to forget about all that Asian carp stuff and just go fishing.”

 

Tournament details

Date: June 7-9

Format: All boaters and co-anglers will compete on day 1 and day 2. The top 10 boaters and co-anglers based on cumulative weight will advance to the Day 3 third and final round. The winner in each category will be determined by the heaviest cumulative three-day weight.

Takeoff time: 6:00 a.m. CT

Takeoff Location: Lake Barkley State Resort Park, 3500 State Park Road, Cadiz, Ky. 42211

Weigh-in time: 2:00 p.m. CT

Weigh-in location: Lake Barkley State Resort Park

Complete details

 

Tags: gary-garth  morning-story  2018-06-07-lake-barkley 

Dog days at Wheeler Lake

Dog days at Wheeler Lake

The second event of the Toyota Series Southeastern Division is off and running this morning on Wheeler Lake out of Ingalls Harbor. Many pros fishing the Southeastern Division this season agree that Wheeler will be the most challenging of the three events in 2020 due to the timing of the tournament. READ MORE »

Ready to Rock on Erie

Ready to Rock on Erie

The Toyota Series Northern Division has undergone more than its share of schedule shuffling this year, but the kickoff is finally here. Taking off out of Sandusky, Ohio, on the shores of Lake Erie, the time to chase smallmouths has arrived. READ MORE »

Eufaula Slugfest Kicks Off

Eufaula Slugfest Kicks Off

For the second week in a row, FLW’s Toyota Series is visiting one of Alabama’s premier bass fisheries at the perfect time of year for pros to hammer on big bags of postspawn largemouths. READ MORE »

Let the Ledge-fest Begin

Let the Ledge-fest Begin

With the start of the Toyota Series Central Division event on Pickwick Lake this morning, today marks the first day back to competition in the world of professional bass fishing. READ MORE »

Two Species Spawning at Havasu 

Two Species Spawning at Havasu 

The weatherman did it again. About two weeks prior to today’s kickoff for the Toyota Series Western Division season at Lake Havasu, the forecast called for highs in the mid-80s and sunshine for three straight days during the tournament. Instead, practice was rainy, and the current forecast calls for precipitation for at least the first two days and highs that likely won’t top 70 degrees.  READ MORE »

Game Day on Okeechobee

Game Day on Okeechobee

The second stop of the Toyota Series Southern Division is hitting Lake Okeechobee later in the year than usual for FLW. Typically, big, multi-day FLW events on the Big O go down in January and February, but this one runs March 12-14 and should offer a different look at the familiar and ever-changing body of water. READ MORE »

It’s Anyone’s Game on Overfull Hartwell

It’s Anyone’s Game on Overfull Hartwell

South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell kicks off the 2020 Toyota Series Eastern Division season this week with a three-day, mid-week showdown of the area’s best bass anglers, hosted by Visit Oconee South Carolina. Hartwell definitely has the potential to produce 20-plus-pound bags, but Mother Nature has decided to create some havoc with lake levels this winter, and it’s anyone’s guess as to how well the fishery shows out. READ MORE »

Despite Cold, Expect Mega-Bags at Chick

Despite Cold, Expect Mega-Bags at Chick

Freezing temperatures greeted anglers for the 2020 Toyota Series Central Division tournament on Lake Chickamauga this morning. As usual on Lake Chickamauga this time of year, every angler is hoping for a 30-pound-plus bag of bass during the Feb. 27-29 tournament. READ MORE »

College Championship Kicks Off on Harris

College Championship Kicks Off on Harris

Championship week for any sport is as exciting as it gets and it’s no different for the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance this week on the Harris Chain. Competing for a $30,000 prize package, including a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower outboard, 162 college bass fishing clubs will have free range of the chain to vie for the title. READ MORE »

Warmer Weather Good Sign at St. Johns

Warmer Weather Good Sign at St. Johns

The cold front that moved through northeast Florida last week shut down the fishing on the St. Johns River in a big way, just as bass were starting to move up to the banks to begin spawning. With the weather that came through, many of those fish pulled back off the bank to wait for more stable conditions. Fortunately, stability arrived this week in the form of warmer weather, but it remains to be seen if those three or four days of warm, stable conditions are going to be enough to get fish back up on beds. For now, it’s safe to assume anglers are going to have to be adaptable over the next few days in the Toyota Series Southern Division opener. READ MORE »

Feast or Famine at Toledo Bend

Feast or Famine at Toledo Bend

It’s been nearly six years since the Toyota Series has been to Toledo Bend, but this week the Sabine River impoundment takes center stage to kick off the Southwestern Division season. READ MORE »

Lake of the Ozarks Midday Update – Day 1

Lake of the Ozarks Midday Update – Day 1

All the talk leading up the final leg of the Costa FLW Series Central Division presented by Evinrude on Lake of the Ozarks was about the weather. And Mother Nature did not disappoint. READ MORE »

Stormy Start at Lake of the Ozarks

Stormy Start at Lake of the Ozarks

The final leg of the Costa FLW Series Central Division presented by Evinrude on Lake of the Ozarks will launch right as a massive cold front arrives. How massive? The forecast has been calling for heavy rain and a high of 74 today, and so far hasn’t been wrong. A major thunderstorm greeted anglers this morning and delayed takeoff by an hour and fifteen minutes thanks to abundant lightning. Tomorrow? A high in the mid 40s. READ MORE »

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 3

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 3

Typically, the first day or two following a cold front put bass in a bad mood, and today, Grand Lake’s fish are following the script. This has created a challenging scenario for the top-10 finalists in the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine. READ MORE »

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 2

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 2

You know fishing’s tough when the most common greeting we receive is the goose egg hand signal. No question, day two of the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine, had a lot of anglers scratching for bites and scratching their heads. READ MORE »

Changes Afoot at Grand Lake

Changes Afoot at Grand Lake

Fall is a time of change and movement; two notions bound to impact the outcome of the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine, on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake. Typical fall migrations are underway, but an approaching cold front will likely complicate the already challenging nature of autumn’s transition. READ MORE »

Underway on the Delta

Underway on the Delta

No matter the weather, no matter the environmental concerns, no matter the fishing pressure, the California Delta remains one of the nation’s most diverse and fertile freshwater fisheries — a truth that should play out in dramatic form during the Costa FLW Series Western Division event. READ MORE »

St. Lawrence Midday Update – Day 3

St. Lawrence Midday Update – Day 3

Weights were already tight going into the final day of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division finale on the St. Lawrence River, which is presented by Gajo Baits. Little more than a pound separated leader Jonathan Kelley from Casey Smith in fifth place. READ MORE »

St. Lawrence Midday Update – Day 2

St. Lawrence Midday Update – Day 2

With slightly warmer weather and similar sun and wind conditions, day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits on the St. Lawrence River should’ve presented optimal conditions for smallmouth. Instead, nearly every angler our on-the-water crew encountered today said the same thing: It’s tougher. READ MORE »

To Run or Not to Run

To Run or Not to Run

The final leg of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division on the St. Lawrence River, presented by Gajo Baits, is primed to be a smallmouth smashfest, as usual. That said, this year’s event, which is presented by Realtree Fishing, will launch out of Massena, N.Y., instead of the usual Clayton. So, what was once a 15-or-so-mile run to the mouth of the lake from takeoff – and roughly 30-plus miles to Gallo Island or Main Duck – will now be about a 95-mile run just to get to the lake. READ MORE »