Kentucky Lake, or better known as the fabled fishery has been a major hot spot for tournament fishing for years and for good reasons. As for the kayak scene this lake has been host of many Hobie Bass Open Series events as well as other major trail schedule stops. This legendary lake has undergone some big changes over the last 5 years that have generated some new challenges for anglers, but none the less Kentucky Lake is capable of shelling out some big bags. Largemouth and smallmouth have co exsisted in these waters over the years with largemouth being the primary species; however, as of late the smallmouth have really made a big presence with more being taken than usual.
The WTBY crew heads to KY Lake to throw down in the June heat and battle it out for the next stop on the 2021 schedule. Will we see ledges come into play or will our anglers utilize their abilities to access difficult to reach areas in kayaks and catch them shallow? Either way you can be rest assured this will be an interesting tournament.
1st Place - Mark Davis
So, I started my day by arriving at my location at 3:30 am, and the first thought that came to mind was I may have made a mistake because I was the only Kayak angler there. I shook off the doubt and left out at launch time and as soon as I arrived at my spot I went to turn into the wind and broke my rudder cable. Well that makes this a little more difficult steering now has become a handicap. So continued with my peddles and steering with my paddle.
At lines in and caught my first fish at 5:21 a 12.50, second fish at 5:57 a 20.50, third fish at 6:14 a 15.00, then started upgrading, upgraded the 12.50 with a 14.75 at 6:36 then an upgraded that with a 16 at 6:59, then upgraded the 15 with a 16.50 at 8:50. Now that was the last fish that was larger than 15 inches. The bite died off around 10:30 and I never found any more upgrades.
The pattern I found was wood that was submerged and was in water between a foot or less and 12 feet deep. I used a rage craw Texas Rigged with the weight pegged and a long shank hook. During last year’s Hobie Event on Kentucky Lake I lost a couple of good fish and this year I not only changed from a wide gap hook to a long shank hook but I also upgraded my flouro from 12lbs to 20lbs. I had the confidence to drag it and not worry about braking off. I will say that my big fish was an amazing sorry. Last year I caught that same fish at the Hobie event. How do I know? She has a very distinctive back and tail. The greatest part is she has grown .50 inches in a year. I am very happy with the way my day went and how well the event was run. WTBY always does a great job of hosting an event and whether you left with a check or left in last place you have to feel good after the great conversation and socializing that we get to do at checking.
2nd Place - Brandon Davis
I owe my finish to my good buddy Trent Harris. He said they were biting a toad and ended up giving me one to throw around. That ole toad crawled around the grass all day long finding 50.25 inches for me and a 2nd place finish. The trick was pulling the toad with the wind through the shallow grass. They wouldn't touch it if I pulled it against the wind. They were pushed up against the outside edge waiting for anything the wind blew their way.
3rd Place - David Best
I caught most of my fish in 1-3 feet of water dragging my Primary Tackle claw bug in green pumpkin and 10" worm in Green pumpkin/ June Bug red laminate. I was targeting a choke point with wind blowing the bait around. There was a big mayfly hatch going on as well that had the smaller bait fish fired up which in turn brought the bass to the area.
Herb Parsons lake, positioned in the outskirts of Collierville, TN is one of the most underrated lakes in the surrounding Memphis metro area. This small lake has really come into its own over the recent years. The TWRA has done a fantastic job of stocking this lake with Florida strain bass and threadfin shad, as well as placing brush piles throughout the lake providing an ecosystem capable of making any species flourish. The West TN Bass Yakkers stop in at this lake for the next stop on the schedule. Temperatures will begin to rise ushering in the well known hot and humid months of the mid south. Bass fishing has been very good as of recent weeks so it will be exciting and interesting to see how the lake shows out for this tournament.
26 anglers launched from the Herb Parsons boat ramp at 5:30 Saturday morning, and were greeted with hot, humid, and low wind conditions. The water clarity was clear to stained and the water levels were at normal pool. The fishing started out fast and furious for some but not so much for most of the field. This tournament would go on to be a big game of patience as bites were far and few. However, the bites that anglers were getting were definitely the right ones. Here's how it shook out.
1st place - Matt Skelton
I competed in the West TN Bass Yakkers event at Herb Parson Lake on Saturday 6/12/21. This was more than just another tournament for me. It was another great day spent at a place that holds many special memories for me.
I grew up in Collierville, Tennessee just minutes from Herb Parsons Lake. I spent many hours as a child fishing from the bank and from small boats there. I had picnics and other outings there also. The lake was even one of the stops on Senior skip day in high school. As an adult, fishing from a jon boat with a friend and even mountain biking the great trails around the lake were all special days.
There were 26 anglers there and ready at 5:15 when the captain’s meeting began. It was already hot, humid, and hardly any wind making conditions extremely tough for everyone on the lake. After the captains meeting I went directly to the spot where I had caught fish on two different days the week before. I didn’t even get a sniff for two hours. I left that spot, went to another. Then another. Then another. Nothing for five hours.
I went back to my original spot and continued to fish with the confidence that the fish would turn on as I said to a couple of other anglers to encourage them not to give up. Little did they know I was trying to encourage myself as much as I was encouraging them. I sat on my spot and watched Colton Anderson acrobatically land a 21” fatty that filled his limit just thirty yards east of me. That little voice in my head said “well that’s it, Colton has it won”.
At this point, the discouragement is setting in. I am still not sure why I moved thirty yards west of my original spot. Maybe it was just to move away from the other anglers nearby or maybe it was just that gentle nudge that a higher power sometimes give you. Never the less, just five minutes after watching Colton land that beautiful fish at about eleven o’clock, I was pulling a Primary Tackle 4” Claw Bug on the bottom and a 22” largemouth slammed it. I landed her and noticed a small fray in my fluorocarbon line so I retied. I repositioned the Hobie PA 14 from S.Y. Wilson and Company in the same location and threw to the same area. Three cast and twenty minutes later in pretty much the same spot, a 19.75” tapped the Claw Bug and I set the hook. After getting that one photographed, I retied and repositioned the Hobie once more. Throwing the Claw Bug again in about the same spot and twenty minutes later, a 19” largemouth filled my limit.
I have fished in many kayak tournaments all over the country from Lake Erie in Ohio to Lake Fork in Texas to Santee Cooper in South Carolina all of which are special places that I enjoyed fishing. I have won or placed in many tournaments that are also special to me. First place with a 60.75” three fish limit in less than forty-five minutes at a place that already fills my mind with special moments is the most special of them all.
2nd Place - Colton Anderson
During practice, I stuck to scanning the deeper waters of Herb Parson Lake near the dam. I found two separate schools on offshore dropoffs that looked to have decent fish in them, but I could never get them to commit to anything that I threw. It was quite discouraging, but I knew that if I was persistent on tournament day, that eventually they would bite so that is exactly what I did. I stayed on those two spots all day long and was able to execute on the only three bites that I got using a drop shot. Luckily for me, they were three good ones.
3rd Place - CJ Cropper
I fish Herb Parsons a lot, so I had a good idea of what the fish were up to. I was fairly confident going in, that was until the night before. Prior to last Saturday I had only logged 13.25 inches of fish with WTBY. That is in 5 tournaments, 3 in 2018 and 2 this year.. While I was more familiar with Herb than any of the lakes I had fished in previous tournaments. My past tournament performances were not exactly confidence inspiring. So while rigging up on Friday evening, I started to think about strategy. My recent experience told me that the bass were off the bank and were either chasing bait balls or pinning bait to the bank. Not just any bank, but areas that had cover and quick access to deeper water. Big laydowns that extend well off the bank seemed prime. Outside of that, there were main points and the mouths of major creek arms. The Sunday prior to the tournament, I noticed a solid topwater bite developing. Prior to then I hadn't had much luck with topwater since late April or early May. Unlike earlier, the fish seemed to want a more subtle topwater bait.. No buzzing, no plopping. So I rigged a Sexy Dog by Strike King, with a Popper and a Devils Horse on standby. I rigged a swim bait, a double fluke, a Skirted Texas Rig with a 1/4 oz punch style weight(yes, they exist, you can find them on Amazon), a 4 O snelled flipping hook and a Magnum Rage Bug. I rigged a shakey head and drop shot for finesse and rounded out my set with a Swinging Jig Head and again a Magnum Rage Bug.
My strategy was to start the day out with some simple topwater. Walking the dog, twitching the Devils Horse or subtly working a popper by casting just off the bank and working it back to the kayak about 20 yards away. After that I would watch for bait or signs of bass pinning bait on the bank. I had learned in the week previous that trying to target them right on the bank was not all that effective. You were better off watching the water and trying to determine where the fish reset after making a run at the bank. If I saw no signs I opted for the higher percentage spots along cover. Particularly those big laydowns and submerged logs.
My first fish of the day came off the very first cast. Since I have a tendency to start working the bait too quickly. I made the cast, put the rod down and took a swig of coffee. No sooner had I put down the coffee and picked up the rod, the Sexy Dog disappeared from sight. Set the hook and was taking picture number one in short order. It was only 13.5, but I was on the board early. I tried topwater for another 30 to 45 minutes with no luck. So I picked up the double fluke rig and started making cast. Three cast in and the guide insert on the tip came free. It started causing back lashes. So much for the fluke. Worked a cove and a portion of the mouth of a creek using a swimbait with no luck.
My secondary spot was the road bed and the cove behind it. I figured it would be covered up with kayaks and I was right. I pulled up just a few minutes prior to Colton's "wooooot" heard around the world.. After watching him haul in that monster. It occured to me that the bite was on. So I hot footed it back to my big laydown. Almost immediately I started seeing blow ups on the bank. I worked outside in, casting just on the outside edges and slowly drifting closer. As I drifted along side the laydown I threw the skirted texas rig under a portion of the ladown, over another and let it sink. The strike came almost instantly after the bait had slid down the back side of the log. I set the hook and managed to squeeze the 18.5 inch fish out of the laydown. While taking care of the second photo, another blow up happened about 30 yards on the other side of the laydown. I wrapped up the photo, released the fish and headed over to where I thought the fish had reset. It was a fairly large branch and was still floating. I skipped my texas rig into the floating log/future brush pile. The 17 inch fish exploded on the bait before it completely settled. Set the hook and started back peddling the Outback. This fish wanted to race. It crossed the bow and back once, took a dive and practically jumped into my awaiting net.
It was a tough day with only two small bite windows. I suspect we all missed a good portion of the topwater bite. I guessing it was really hot between 5:00 and 5:30 AM. The second window was around 11:30 to 12:30. My fish were caught around 5:45, 11:30 and 11:45: