KENTUCKY LAKE BASS FISHING
David is also a regular on the "Wal-Mart FLW" Everstart and BFL bass tournament circuits. He currently stands 28th in the LBL division of the BFL series. Add in the fact that he's a very personable guy and I had the perfect guide for our bass fishing experience.
Due to scheduling conflicts we didn't make it on the water until around 11:00 AM (May, 23rd). A little late for die hard bass anglers, but you just have to go when you can. Despite this late start, David felt pretty confident that we'd have a good day.
First off, I'd just like to say how excited I was. I don't get many opportunities to fish anymore and here I was going on a guided bass trip in a Ranger Bass boat trimmed out with a 225 hp Mercury. Just to be in that situation had me happy already. Well, things were about to get even better.
I can't really tell you the exact spots we fished. But, suffice to say that we didn't have to make too long a trip from the Paris Landing marina before we hit our first spot.
Starting out, his lure of choice was a carolina rigged baby brush hog in green pumpkin red, of course I used the same. Before I even had my pole rigged David had landed our first fish. Not big, but not bad either. Soon after I wet my line, I was hooked up with a good bass myself. Over the next couple of hours, I'd estimate that we boated about 15 largemouth and at least 4 were over the 15" minimum length limit.
Let me tell you about the spot we were fishing. The water was still dropping out from the recent flooding (still 4-6 feet above summer pool) and we were focusing on submerged brush in the backs of creeks. Most of the water we fished was in the 5-7 foot range. I point this out is because this pattern may not hold now that the water has dropped. But if you ever find these conditions (late spring/water dropping), these methods should work well. We'll look at some patterns that should soon be productive later in the story.
We were casting right into the middle of the submerged bushes and dragging it slowly out over a grassy area. Most of the strikes came just as we pulled free from the bushes and into the grass.
One thing that amazed me was that you could work through the bushes so well with these carolina rigs. Snags would seem to be a problem, but that was not the case. I think I snagged up once and don't know if David ever snagged up all day. Once again I want to emphasize, we were dragging right through the middle of extremely thick bushes almost the entire time. This was definitely a key.
While the fish were still biting ok, they had slowed a bit so it was time to try a few more spots. The next three spots we tried were loaded with bait fish and appeared to be a bass' dream. We did pick up a few on tandem willow leaf spinnerbaits and one or two on carolina rigs, but not near the action that we had previously. Same depths of water, same situation as the first spot, lots more baitfish, but the bass just weren't biting or weren't there.
Trying a few new spots is always nice. Kind of the "Grass is always greener" theory. But after a few hours we knew it was time to head back to the honey hole.
As soon as we arrived we had fish on again. The bonus was, we were bringing in some bigger fish this time around. Not any real monsters, but a couple in the 3 1/2 to 4 pound range. In those last couple of hours, we brought in another 15+ and had eight more keepers over 15", though we released them all.
Out of this one spot no more than 75 yards wide, we had caught over 30 largemouth with a dozen of them being 15" plus. A good day by any standards. David accounted for more than his fair share, but he even put me on a few nice ones. Needless to say, I was tickled to death and can't wait to get out there and try em again.
A FEW POINTS
For those of you who aren't familiar with the carolina rig. It consists of a large bullet weight of a half ounce to an ounce (I used a half ounce), followed by a small bead (usually red). Then you've got a swivel and a leader of about 18" - 24". Just tie on a hook, rig the brush hog (or other plastic bait) weedless and you're ready to go.
Fishing a carolina rig is kind of different. You often don't feel the strike or just feel a slight resistance. Other times you'll just see your line take off sideways. It's another aspect that takes a little getting used to. No telling how many fish we (or maybe just I) actually had on that we couldn't detect in the heavy brush.
Setting the hook is another difference than the texas rig I'm used to. The jaw breaking yank isn't as necessary. You still need to give them a good swift pull, but many of them seem to hook themselves. The lack of resistance, due to the long leader, seems to make them take the bait more readily. This did lead to a few gut hooks, but not many.
We did try a few other plastic baits. The baby brush hog in green pumpkin red out produced them all. It's a unique design. Can't really describe it. Kind of busy with all the arms and tails,etc. All I can say is, " They work!".
We mentioned that this pattern might not hold now that the water is down. Here's what David said should work well during the summer months ahead.
Starting in the next week or two, he said you should focus on main lake points and bars. The bars should come up to about 5 feet of water on top and have 18-20 feet of water on the sides. Use that same carolina rig or deep running crankbaits for these areas.
Smaller buck bass will also stay in the backs of the creeks feeding on the schools of shad all summer. Try grass beds back in the creeks early and late in the day. If it's cloudy, you can probably do well in mid-day also. If it's sunny during mid-day look for the dark holes in the grass. Bass will be buried in there trying to ambush some shad. Use buzzbaits and other topwaters for some fast action over these grass beds.
Kentucky Lake is known more for it's crappie than anything. But if you're not chasing some of these bass, you're really missing out. A few years ago the largemouth fishing was tough and catching big largemouth was even tougher. That's not the case anymore and over the next year or two it should be at it's best ever.
Last year showed tons of 12" fish. This year is showing tons of 14" fish. Next year should show this year class reaching the 16" range. That's something all Kentucky Lake bass fishermen are looking forward to.
The excellent state of the bass fishing on Kentucky Lake was backed up in the FLW tournament. Competitors hauled in 995 bass on the second day of the tournament, including 103 five-bass limits, to make this event the most successful FLW Tour event on Kentucky Lake in terms of catch weight and number of bass caught. Anglers caught 1,981 bass over two days, compared to 1,457 in 1998. These fish weighed more than 4,800 pounds, nearly 200 pounds heavier than the catch weight five years ago.
Fourth place finisher Mike Surman of Boca Raton, Fla. said, "This place is unbelievable. I caught about 75 fish today. There is no other place in the world where you can catch a 2 ½-pounder after a 2 ½-pounder after a 2 ½-pounder. This is just a fantastic lake.”
I would just like to say thanks to David Seaton, Fishtale Lodge and his sponsors - Ranger Boats and Mercury Outboards. I probably couldn't have brought in any of these fish without his help. Now that he's shown me a few Kentucky Lake Bassin' tricks, I can hit the water with confidence.
Use some of these methods next time you're on Kentucky Lake. You don't know what you're missing.
***Follow David on the tournament trail at www.flwoutdoors.com
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