UPCOMING EVENT: FLW Pro Circuit - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Top 5 Patterns from College Open – Day 1

Top 5 Patterns from College Open – Day 1

Blake Jackson and Trevor McKinney of McKendree University edged out 20 other bags over 20 pounds with their 23-pound, 11-ounce stringer on day one of the YETI FLW College Fishing Open. They did it primarily with mid-diving crankbaits on one special current break that held a bunch of smallmouths cycling through the area.

Jackson, McKinney day one story

Complete results

That wasn’t necessarily a pattern that dominated for the rest of the top 5, though. Current certainly played its part, but versatility was key on day one. Here’s a look at how the rest of the top 5 teams caught their fish on Tuesday.

 

2. Cole Floyd, Carter McNeil – Bethel University – 23-9 (5) 

Cole Floyd and Carter McNeil were one of three teams from Bethel University in the top 10 on day one — a school located less than an hour from Paris Landing State Park on the lower end of Kentucky Lake. Proximity has made that area familiar territory for Bethel anglers, especially Floyd and McNeil.

“That’s where we spend the majority of our time, and we know it best down there,” McNeil says. “In this tournament every year, we try to stay in that area.”

Because so much current was being pulled through the Kentucky Dam, the duo decided to stay further south and look for areas laden with current breaks. They weren’t necessarily targeting any particular cover or structure; just whatever might be holding fish out of the ripping current.

“I think we had two days of practice and we had one bite each day,” he adds. “We knew the high water had something to do with that, and we were hoping that bite would get better for us. Sure enough, they kept pulling the water down and brought the fish right where we wanted them to be.”

Floyd and McNeil primarily employed craw-color lipless crankbaits and Strike King KVD squarebill crankbaits in chartreuse with black back to catch their fish. They intend to run back to that same area on day two, assuming the high winds the forecast is calling for don’t make it too perilous of a run.

 

3. Blake Johnson, Ben Statly – Adrian College – 23-8 (5)

No matter what Adrian College’s Blake Johnson and Ben Statly were doing on day one, they were doing it slow. It helped that they had confidence in one specific pattern and a ton of real estate to exploit that pattern.

“We were south of Kenlake at the bridge, and we were targeting super tall riprap transition banks,” Johnson says. “We found a couple points like that and fished them all day.

“We bounced around in the same general area that had the same kind of stuff. We fished the same points and banks all day.”

The pair only threw two baits: a red lipless crankbait and an umbrella rig equipped with four blades, Keitech Swing Impact FAT 3.8s on the outside and a 4.8 in the middle. They also used a chartreuse pen to mark a line down the back of that middle bait.

Simple. Easy. Effective.

 

4. Dustin Jones, Dakota Cantrell – Campbellsville University – 23-5 (5)

Like many other top teams on day one, it was all about current for Campbellsville University’s Dustin Jones and Dakota Cantrell. After not getting a single bite until 1 o’clock, they ran south to the main lake and caught all their fish on one stretch.

“It was just a pea gravel bank,” Cantrell says. “It wasn’t anything really special — just current-related bites. It wasn’t any different than what we’d been hitting. They just happened to be loaded up there.”

Cantrell was familiar with that spot from fishing this tournament last year, and most of his team’s weight came from that spot in that event.

When the duo checked that spot in practice, they didn’t really find much. The water was still up pretty high, which wasn’t ideal for what they wanted to do.

“I checked it twice during practice, and today they just happened to pull up because it’s getting warmer and the water’s stabilized a bit,” he explains. “The boat was sitting in 15 feet; not super deep. They wanted it slow. You’d get hung almost every cast you didn’t get bit. They’re on the bottom and they’re eating anything that comes by right now. We didn’t catch a fish in practice that was under 5 pounds.”

What they wanted was an umbrella rig. Cantrell and Jones rigged theirs with 3.75-inch Strike King Rage Swimmers and a 4.25-inch Rage Swimmer in the middle. They caught some fish on other baits, but the umbrella rig was the ticket to 23-5.

 

5. Jonathan Creed, Jared Latone – Youngstown State University – 23-4 (5) 

Youngstown State University’s Jonathan Creed and Jared Latone swung for the fences early in this event, and it paid off to the tune of 23-4 on day one.

The teammates didn’t find much during practice while fishing the north end of Kentucky Lake, but they knew the south end would be a little lighter on current. They ran down south – despite engine troubles that made it a long run – and found all their fish beating the bank.

“We had to shoot our shot now while we had the chance,” Creed explains, noting that strong winds could make it an impossible run on Wednesday. “We’re probably not going to make the run regardless. We have that stuff up here that we had early in practice, so we’re probably going to stick close tomorrow to see what we can pull off.”

“Pattern” might be a bit of a stretch for what Creed and Latone were fishing on day one. What it actually amounted to was junk fishing, though incredibly productive junk fishing to be sure.

“We were pretty shallow beating the bank most of the day, and we just kind of threw everything we had at them — a little bit of crankbaits, a little bit of jerkbaits, a little bit of A-rigs — all the typical prespawn junk fishing stuff. 

“We were really looking for some bluff that transitioned into some pea gravel. We think once that got warmer fish were moving up.”

Those pea gravel transitions – despite not producing a single smallmouth, curiously enough – ended up being the ticket for the Youngstown State teammates. And the best bait they threw all day was a Spro John Crews Little John crankbait in a spring craw color.

Tags: flw  college-open  kentucky-lake  bass-fishing  fishing-tournament  justin-onslow  headline-story  2019-03-12-kentucky-barkley 

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