UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Kentucky Lake Preview

Kentucky Lake Preview
Kentucky Lake

2016 Walmart FLW Tour Preview

Kentucky Lake

Gilbertsville, Ky.

June 9-12, 2016

Hosted by Kentucky Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

 

About the Fishery

Kentucky Lake is no unknown quantity to most FLW pros. It’s a frequent stop at all tournament levels, partly due to its location near the FLW operations office in Benton, Ky., but also because it sprawls across more than 160,000 surface acres and is a fertile fish factory.

An impoundment of the Tennessee River, Kentucky Lake is known for its offshore river ledges and other mid-lake structure. Current flows according to power generation needs and can be quite swift, but fishing tends to suffer when the current slacks off.

It’s a long, rather straight and shallow fishery due to the low-land habitat that once surrounded the Tennessee in its most downstream section. The north end near the dam is deeper, with visibility sometimes reaching about 5 feet beneath the surface. The south end is narrower and shallower, with lower visibility. Expansive grass beds are more common in the southern half as well.

 

Last Time

Rookie pro Skip Johnson ends the season with a bang by clinching the title on Kentucky Lake.

Most recently, the Tour has made stops on Kentucky Lake in the month of June in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2014. Dave Lefebre won in 2012 with 77 pounds, 3 ounces in four days. He did it by throwing a crankbait, swimbait and jig on an isolated shell bed in about 6 feet of water near the dam. Keith Williams won in the far upper end in 2009 by fishing a shell bed situated on a flooded roadbed near hydrilla.

While those tactics produced tournament wins, the top 10 in each tournament was dominated by ledge fishing. The same goes for the winning patterns in the 2011 (Chad Grigsby) and 2014 (Skip Johnson) events and a bunch of summertime FLW Series and Bass Fishing League tournaments. Simply put, June tournaments are dominated by ledge fishermen.

Daily weights that time of year have averaged in the neighborhood of 18 to 20 pounds. The biggest variable in previous tournaments was the area of the lake that produced the winning fish. Champions have been crowned from one end to the other.

 

What to Expect this Time

Expect ledge fishing. Period.

The ability of the modern bass pro to use depth finders to locate offshore schools of fish quickly and accurately has nearly negated Kentucky Lake’s shallow bite as a viable winning option from late May through the end of July. And Kentucky Lake bass waste very little time skedaddling from spawning coves to postspawn ledges where schools of shad make for easy meals.

The most consistent ledge anglers will try to put together a milk run of 30 or more schools to rotate through each day, but Kentucky Lake schools are so big this time of year that the tournament could be won by someone who camps on just one or two “mega-schools” for four days. That’s how Johnson won the 2014 event.

Adjoining Lake Barkley offers anglers a few additional productive ledges, as well as a solid flipping bite. Flipping bushes on Barkley could easily produce a top 10, but it rarely competes with Kentucky for the win. Anglers won’t be able to fish the entire lake, however, because the BFL All-American is being held concurrently on Barkley, so FLW divided the lake between the two tournament fields.

Unless the water is exceptionally high and floods out into the buck brush and willows, don’t expect the shallow bite to be a real factor. Yes, some big fish will be caught in shallow water here and there, and there’s a growing chance that a grass pattern down south will win once again (the grass bite was hot last season) – but it’s still a pretty slim chance. The ledges simply corral so many quality keepers into one spot that it’s difficult for anyone fishing a different pattern to keep up with the offshore sticks.

 

Baits and Techniques

Spoons, crankbaits and jigs produced the biggest stringer of the day for Michael Neal. He had 25-9.

  • Deep cranking – “New” fish, or bass that have just arrived on the ledges, often sulk in deep water before sliding up to shallow bars. Once they move up, they’re usually aggressive and can be caught on crankbaits that dive to a range of between 8 and 25 feet.
  • Slow-rolling swimbaits – Ledge swimbaits keep evolving and getting bigger. Some pros will be lobbing shad-imitators that are up to 9 inches long.
  • Ripping spoons – “Big” spoons have gotten bigger too. Now it’s nothing for a pro to rip an 8-inch-long, 3-ounce chunk of metal through a school of bass. This is a powerful technique that can ignite inactive fish and catch plenty of hawgs.
  • Dragging – Bottom baits such as Texas-rigged worms, shaky heads and jigs always have produced on Kentucky Lake, and surely will again this time.
  • Finesse – As fish on the ledges become increasingly pressured, more and more anglers are turning to a drop-shot or other finesse options. The winner's primary rod isn't likely to be a spinning rod, but one could easily factor into the gameplan. 

 

3 Critical Factors

1. Wind – Kentucky Lake’s long, north-south, wide-open surface area can really buck when the wind blows. Big waves make it a challenge to scan ledges in practice, to set up on a school in the tournament, to make accurate casts, to hold the boat in place and to navigate the long distances that sometimes must be traveled to reach a productive spot on the big lake.

2. Angling pressure – With schools closing for the season, June is a popular month for out-of-towners to bring their families to Kentucky Lake for vacation and pleasure boating. It’s also well known to be the time to catch heavyweights on the ledges. Plus, the fishery hosts hundreds of tournaments each summer. All those fishing and recreational boats can fill up 160,000 acres a lot faster than you might realize. Pros will also have to contend with the unfortunate reality of locals and jackpotters looking to snag a few waypoints from the experts.

3. Timing – A late winter or early spring could really change the timing of the ledge bite, though the ledge bite will still be the main factor. If winter lingers, bass might still be arriving to the ledges, which isn’t a bad thing in a four-day event and would promote the one-hole pattern – and possibly an average ledge angler could stumble on the mother lode. If summer comes early, the mega-schools could start to break up by tournament time, and the outcome favors the ledge specialists.

 

Fantasy Fishing Pick – This is almost a no-brainer: Choose as many ledge experts as you can because this tournament’s outcome is as easy to pick as any. Even if it isn’t won on a ledge, probably eight of the top 10 will be ledge fishing. The ideal pro should be a sonar expert and should be proven on the Tennessee River system. There are many out there, but look first at those who have had top-10 finishes on Kentucky or Pickwick in the last five years (a lot has changed in that time) in Tour or FLW Series events. Our picks: Jason Lambert, Tom Redington and Randy Haynes.

Tags: kentucky-lake  flw  article 

Check-in Time: Kurt Mitchell

Check-in Time: Kurt Mitchell

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 Delaware pro Kurt Mitchell.  READ MORE »

Top 10 Reasons to Fish the Phoenix Bass Fishing League

Top 10 Reasons to Fish the Phoenix Bass Fishing League

Fishing tournaments in general is obviously a blast, but we like to think that fishing the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine is especially fun. READ MORE »

BFL Registration Now Open

BFL Registration Now Open

Boaters and co-anglers interested in fishing the Bama, Buckeye, Choo Choo, Mountain and Ozark divisions of the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine can register now. 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 »

Registration Starts Monday 

Registration Starts Monday 

This year, things are better than ever for anglers looking to get in on the action of the Bass Fishing League, which is the premier grassroots tournament circuit. MLF and FLW are rolling back entry fees – now just $200 per boater and $100 per co-angler for one-day qualifiers and $300 per boater and $150 per co-angler for two-day Super Tournaments. Those are the lowest entry fees since 2014.  READ MORE »

FLW, TBF Extend Strategic Partnership

FLW, TBF Extend Strategic Partnership

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: BENTON, Ky. – Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) and The Bass Federation (TBF) announced today a new strategic partnership. This agreement extends bass fishing’s longest-running alliance between two pioneering organizations in service to grassroots anglers from coast to... READ MORE »

FLW, TBF Extend Strategic Partnership

FLW, TBF Extend Strategic Partnership

Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) and The Bass Federation (TBF) announced today a new strategic partnership. This agreement extends bass fishing’s longest-running alliance between two pioneering organizations in service to grassroots anglers from coast to coast and around the world. READ MORE »

FLW Announces Schedule, Rules and Entry Dates for 2020 High School Fishing Season

FLW Announces Schedule, Rules and Entry Dates for 2020 High School Fishing Season

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: BENTON, Ky. – Today FLW (Fishing League Worldwide) announced the schedule, rules and entry dates for the 2020 FLW High School Fishing season. New for 2020, the winning team (two anglers) at the National Championship will both advance to the 2020 FLW Series... READ MORE »

2020 High School Fishing Details

2020 High School Fishing Details

Today FLW (Fishing League Worldwide) announced the schedule, rules and entry dates for the 2020 FLW High School Fishing season. New for 2020, the winning team (two anglers) at the National Championship will both advance to the 2020 FLW Series Championship to compete as co-anglers and fish for the top prize of $30,000, in addition to each receiving a $5,000 scholarship to a school of their choice. READ MORE »

Phoenix Boats Signs as Exclusive Boat Sponsor of FLW

Phoenix Boats Signs as Exclusive Boat Sponsor of FLW

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: BENTON, Ky. - FLW (Fishing League Worldwide) announced Tuesday that it has reached a sponsorship agreement with Phoenix Boats, a leading boat manufacturer known for innovation, performance and an angler-centric business approach. Effective... READ MORE »

Phoenix Signs as Exclusive Boat Sponsor

Phoenix Signs as Exclusive Boat Sponsor

FLW has reached a sponsorship agreement with Phoenix Boats, a leading boat manufacturer known for innovation, performance and an angler-centric business approach. Effective immediately, Phoenix will assume title sponsorship of the FLW Bass Fishing League, which recently announced decreased entry fees to offer grassroots anglers the best payouts at the lowest cost available. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. READ MORE »

Wall Back to Building Baits

Wall Back to Building Baits

The offseason for many professional anglers is a time to hang out with family and take a step away from a bass boat, while some even swap time on the water for time in a deer stand or duck blind. Not so for Jacob Wall, who just wrapped his first year as a professional angler. READ MORE »

Thrift, Dudley Join 2020 Bass Pro Tour

Thrift, Dudley Join 2020 Bass Pro Tour

Bryan Thrift and David Dudley will be joining the 2020 Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour. READ MORE »

How the Pros Spend Thanksgiving

How the Pros Spend Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy the company of family and friends – especially those we might not get to see that often. And, of course, it’s time to indulge in some delicious food while giving thanks for what we have in our lives. For professional anglers, the holiday is even more special because it lands during that small portion of the year when they’re not on the road and can spend a little extra time relaxing at home. READ MORE »

BFL Co-Anglers Win Polaris ATVs

BFL Co-Anglers Win Polaris ATVs

Jacob Yelton and Richard Thornburg, both of whom fished as co-anglers in the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League this season, are each proud recipients of a brand new Polaris Sportsman 570 EPS ATV as winners of the Polaris Sportsman Giveaway. 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 »

Cash in on the Florida Prespawn

Cash in on the Florida Prespawn

Growing up on Lake Okeechobee, Jared McMillan loves to flip for big fish when the opportunity presents itself, but he’ll be the first to tell you that mid-November can be one of the best times to be on the water. READ MORE »

Check-in Time with Kurt Dove

Check-in Time with Kurt Dove

The most exciting thing I have going on currently is that I just picked up my 2020 Ranger 520L, and the prepping and rigging happens on the weekends. I’m hoping to get out on the water sometime after Thanksgiving to test it out. READ MORE »

Rapala Varsity Bass Ep. 5 Airs Friday 

Rapala Varsity Bass Ep. 5 Airs Friday 

Join FLW for a watch party for the premiere of Episode 5 of Rapala Varsity Bass presented by General Tire. The episode will air Friday, Nov. 22 at 2 p.m. CT. READ MORE »

FLW Announces Schedule, Rules and Entry Date For 2020 FLW College Fishing presented by YETI

FLW Announces Schedule, Rules and Entry Date For 2020 FLW College Fishing presented by YETI

BENTON, Ky. – Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) announced Thursday the schedule, rules and entry dates for the 2020 FLW College Fishing presented by YETI season, highlighted by the FLW College Fishing National Championship on the Harris Chain of Lakes in Leesburg, Florida, and advancement opportunities for anglers to compete in the Bass Fishing League (BFL) All... READ MORE »