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:
Set to take place on Pickwick lake the West TN Bass Yakkers approaches it’s stop #5 for the season. Pickwick lake has a reputation that spans worldwide. Most widely known for its phenomenal smallmouth, the lake boasts some giant largemouth as well. Pickwick lake sits second to last on the Tennessee River chain of lakes and really has a lot to offer. Grass, bluffs, offshore structure, shallow brush, the list goes on. An angler can truly fish his/ her strengths and do well here.
The tournament will be taking place during a very opportunistic time of the year. In mid-May you see fish doing several things. Some will still be up shallow either guarding fry or still on beds while others will have already started their transition out to the main river ledges. A shad spawn is something to look for as well in the early morning hours. Current is a major dictating factor on any of the TN river lakes, but as we transition into post spawn the current will play a major role in targeting fish out offshore and could play big here this weekend.
This will be an interesting event. The weather this week is setting up to be a very enjoyable day of fishing, but as we know bright clear days can often usher in some challenging fishing conditions.
The WTBY anglers set out at 5:30 Saturday morning and were welcomed with amazingly thick fog and snappy 47 degree temperatures. None the less, the weather warmed quickly and the fish were biting.
1st Place went to Ron Butler with 54.5 inches:
All of my fish came on a green pumpkin Yum Dinger. I targeted steeper bluff walls by sitting out in 20 ft. of water and making casts real tight next to the bank.
2nd Place and Big Bass went to Justin Patrick with 54 inches:
Mid May on the TN river, my mind is really starting to think offshore. I spent a lot of time starring at my Garmin electronics in practice but I just couldn't find enough out there to get me excited. I did however find that a lot of fish were still hanging out up shallow so that was my game plan going into tournament day. Saturday morning I started out in the back of a major flat and wasted no time putting a limit in the boat with a MegaBass Pop Max. No bigs, but a early limit is always nice. The fish were hanging out in grass in 2-3 feet of water and all it took was one or two twitches of the rod and they were there.
Around 9:30 I loaded up and went to my second spot in the back of a major creek arm. I had never fished this section of the creek, so when I unloaded the Hobie I was pleased to see it was loaded with shoreline grass growing out into 3-4 feet of water. The rest of the day I caught over 15 fish throwing a Black Bass Tackle swim jig with a Strike King rage menace trailer around the outside edges of the grass. I culled out two of my smallest fish with one measuring 20 inches. Big shout out to my sponsors Hobie Fishing, SY WIlson and Company, Black Bass Tackle, Primary Tackle, Small Town Bassin, Little Miami Outfitters, and Kitana Hooks.
3rd Place went to Brandon Davis with 52.25 inches:
I fished the upper end of the river near Florence to get away from some of the pleasure boat traffic typically seen on the lower end around Yellow Creek.
My morning started off really well putting a small limit on the board within 30min all on a buzzbait. That always helped to calm the nerves and slow me down which I definitely need from time to time. The fish seemed to be cooperating pretty well because any that missed the buzzbait would wait around for the wacky worm follow up. Once the sun came out and burned the fog off I made my way into some backwater areas where I found a strip of reeds that were holding a bunch of 16-17" bass tucked up in the edges. They wanted to be in the reeds that had debris blown up against them - if the reeds were bare out front there weren't fish in there. I culled 2 of my 3 fish pitching a small jig around for a couple hours. Around noon I had over 50" already and decided to lock the buzzbait back in my hand looking for a bigger bite and that's when I ran into my best fish of the day at 18". I caught some more keepers but nothing that would cull the rest of the day. It was a great day catching fish exactly how I like to catch them!
West TN Bass Yakkers are back in action with the next event taking place on Beech Lake which is one of many lakes along the beech river watershed. This lake is located in the heart of Lexington, TN and has long been a favorite destination on the WTBY schedule with many 20 plus inch fish being pulled from it's waters. The options are plentiful for anglers to fish their style with shoreline docks, offshore structure, shallow vegetation, and plenty of laydowns to flip a jig too. The time of year is right to visit this lake, but with the spawn still in it's beggining stages we may see a little bit of everything come into play. 3 years ago the KAST state championship was won on this lake by Cameron Gatlin with an impressive stringer measuring 104.75 inches, so needless to say this will be a very interesting event to follow.
26 anglers came out to compete on a cloudy and rainy Saturday at Beech lake. Water temperatures were hovering around the 58-61 degree mark depending on where you were, and the fishing was absolutely on fire. Multiple anglers reported catching over 30 fish throughout the day which is a great sign and encouraging for the years to come. Here's the top 3 finishers and their recaps for the day.
Chuck Smith takes 1st place with 53. 75 inches -
Coming into Beech, I had every intention of pre-fishing Friday, but life happened and I settled for a quick trip to S.Y. for some Hobie oil and some Primary Tackle goodies. (more on that in a sec)
I thought there would be a good mix of pre, post, and maybe some spawners still in the shallows, so I figured I would start in the pads in the back of the lake.
I started within sight of the ramp and really never left. I had planned to start with the old strike king scum frog, and was bit almost immediately, a good one but it spit the hook (per normal). I didn’t want to live in the heartbreak zone all day so I switched up pretty quickly. This is where those goodies came into play! I switched up to a Texas-rigged speed craw, but on very light Primary Tackle tungsten. Caught the first 19.5' at 6:30!
Followed that up with easily 30 bass, and all but 3 were 12-13 inches. I adjusted slightly to the edges of isolated pads and started hopping around and connected on another 19.5' around 11:00. All in all a blessed day in the rain, grossly under-dressed & cold, but catching fish with friends!
Justin Patrick takes 2nd with 52 inches -
Beech lake is definitely one of those lakes where you need at least one big fish in your bag to have a opportunity to win, but typically you see a 20 plus followed up with a couple 17s or 18s to take it. I figured with the low pressure system moving through it would take every bit of that to have a chance.
I didn't get any practice beforehand for this event so I decided my best bet was to fish a combination of new water and also areas I knew historically always held fish and just in general be thorough and diverse. I started out running a pocket with a buzz bait up shallow near docks and shallow cover. I started getting bit but right off the bat the fish were telling me they weren't fully committed to that bait. They would come up and basically nip at it, not really eating it. My guess was the water temps weren't fully there for the topwater action to be on, so I made a switch to a Black Bass Tackle spinnerbait and began waking it right up under the surface. Within a few casts of switching I started hooking fish and netted a 16.50. I ran with that for a while until I got into a new area and the water started really clearing up. I switched over to a BBT Tour bound jig and a Berkley general wacky rigged and started blindly casting around docks to check for bedding fish. No luck with any spawners but caught a couple small fish that filled out my limit. As the day progressed I moved out to a point and started fishing a lipless bait around a shell bed where I caught a 20.25. I'm throwing my lipless baits on a new rod. It's a 7'3 MH Proteus made by Little Miami outfitters. I've been super impressed with how well this rod handles big fish. It's a 30 ton carbon composite rod with a relatively moderate/ fast action tip. It serves as a very well rounded rod for different applications and has excelled well as a lipless cranking rod. You have more parabolic action throughout the rods entirety which allows the fish a little give to get the bait better and not throw it as easily. I rounded out the rest of my day by catching another 15.25 incher in the last hour to cull out my last smallest fish and finish with 52 inches.
Patty Stewart took 3rd with 51 inches -
We didn't get the opportunity to catch up with Mrs. Stewart but it sounds like she had a great day of fishing.
West TN Bass Yakkers will be visiting Browns Creek Lake for it's 3rd trail event of the 2021 season. This small TWRA lake is always a favorite for the WTBY crew and shows up on the schedule year after year, and for some big reasons. We'll be hitting this lake at a great time of the year. The fish should be thinking about the spawn and on the move to the shallower water. This lake tends to fish even smaller than it's size with a handful of spots that usually kick out the bigger fish, but with the bass in their spring patterns and on the prowl it should have them spread out more. To win this event, it usually takes over 55 inches so anglers will be looking for a couple good kicker fish to have a run at the trophy. This little lake has single handedly been the reason why so many in the west TN area have fallen in love with kayak fishing. It's the perfect size for kayaks and with it's rule of idle only for bass boats, kayak anglers can move around freely. Come out and join us. This is sure to be a slugfest.
Ashley Ault took 1st place with an impressive stringer measuring 62.5 inches anchored by a 22 inch giant - Heading into this tourney I told myself "don't fish based on the past/memories you have of this place." So prefishing Friday, I really just went out to explore/observe as much water as I could. In doing so a few 20" fish "showed" themselves as I tossed a buzzbait around. All fish I came across that day were pre-spawn to full out spawners, scattered in pockets amongst the thickest cover or on that first break/deeper water nearest these areas. The forecast for Saturday, rain, wind and overcast, TOPWATER weather, so tourney morning I headed straight to the area one of the 20"'s was hanging out the previous day. About 5 minutes in, a 22" ate the buzzbait. A few moments later, not 10 yards away, a 20.75". Both fish ate on casts parallel to the cover/bushes, sitting in 3 to 4 feet. The next 5 hours tested me, nothing, notta! How, that's Browns. During this stretch I abandoned the buzzbait briefly, maybe an hour. Skipping a soft jerkbait into the thickest cover I could find in the backs of pockets. This produced a few bites but they would NOT committ to eating it.About 11:30, I run in to Matt Skelton and decided to take a moment and chat, trying to get my mind out of dumpster fire mode. Doing this turned things around!! The wind had picked up, so I picked up a spinnerbait, one of my confidence baits. 15 minutes later I had a 15", finally! Sitting at 58" you'd typically feel pretty good, not at Browns. Having caught my two better fish on the buzzbait earlier, I immediately went back to it. My final bite of the day came shortly after doing so. An even 20", she hit in the exact same type area/presentation as the other two earlier that day. Parallel presentation, small pocket, thick flooded bushes with fresh grass growing in/near by. 62.75" and I still wasn't sure that would get it done, it's Browns.
Justin Patrick took 2nd with 56 inches and Big Bass with a 23 inch prespawner - I have done well on Browns Creek in the past and giving it's size I decided to not practice and just put the pieces together on tournament day. Going into the tournament I suspected the fish would be up shallow and in transition to spawn if not already on beds. I heard some rumblings about some guys seeing fish up on beds the day before, but I had my suspicion that giving the rainy and cloudy forecast for the day they might pull back off a bit. I spent most of the first hour or so fishing main points to half way back in the creeks. I wasn't getting much luck flipping jigs or throwing a squarebill around cover, so I picked up the buzzbait. The temps were right for it, so I tied it on. Not 3 casts later I connected with my first fish. What's so interesting is that I just worked that exact area with a jig and didn't get a bite. Throw back in there with the buzzbait and bam. Gotta let the fish tell you what they want. I stuck with the buzzbait and netted two more fish, one being a measurable and the other not. I gathered that the fish were mostly hanging around the second half of the pockets, so I moved into a major spawning flat and started fishing this little cut that had flooded grass in the back with about 2 ft of water over it. The wind was pushing into this section so I opted for a lipless crankbait over the buzzbait and started burning and ripping it out of the grass. Just a couple casts in I connected with a 17.5. I continued around the other half of the pocket and still fishing the lipless I caught my new personal best, a 23 incher weighing in at 10lbs. My two best bait were the Strike King Red Eye Shad and a Megabass Buzzbait.
Andrew Hanson finished 3rd with a strong bag at 54 inches - I prefished a week early since I knew I wouldn't have time the day before and went all day without a bite until I landed a 20.5' just before leaving. Tournament day I went right back to the same pocket I caught the fish in the week prior and using the same technique I flipped every bush in there. I was throwing a Strike King Rage Bug in the Junebug color with a pegged 1/4 oz tungsten weight. I went with the 1/4 oz to help me be a little quieter when the bait was hitting the water. I caught my first fish around 7 that morning and it measured 17.75", on my second pass through the cove I netted a 19.5". This proved two things for me, 1) keep fishing that same pattern the rest of the day, and 2) be patient as I spent almost 3 hours in that one little pocket. I finally got a limit fish around 11 that measured 14.75 and then I upgraded around 1 oclock with a 16.75". I threw a couple of other baits without any action throughout the day but all of my fish were caught on the Rage Bug.