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FLW Stren Series – Central Division – Kentucky Lake


   The second event of the 2007 Central Division takes us to the monstrous fisheries of Kentucky and Barkley Lakes. With my past performances on these bodies of water this could be my make or break event for 2007. Even though these fisheries house numerous quantities of quality Largemouths and Smallmouths – it always seem to take the best of me to figure them out.


Practice – Day 1:

   My first day I practiced I dedicated to the area around the 68/80 Bridge on Kentucky Lake. I started out fishing the back ends of several bays on the LBL side and trying to locate the Yellow Flowers. I quickly hooked up on a small keeper on a spinnerbait. I ran several bays and only one small keeper and several shorts. The yellow flowers were not abundant so I decided to explore the west side of the lake. I headed into one of the larger bays and noticed and abundance of flooded bushes and flowers. I started with a spinnerbait with no success. There in front of me was a picture perfect drain just like the ones I did well on at Sam Rayburn. It was a flippers paradise. I pulled out my Flippin Stick and tied on my favorite tube a Reaction Innovations BoomBoom Tube in Green Goby and the first flip with it I got an nice thump. I put just enough pressure on this fish to view her and see was a beauty – in my best estimate a 6 pounder. I continued flippin the bushes and flooded willows and got a few bites but nothing solid. It seemed like the fish were really scattered or beat up by fishing pressure. I continued to explore more areas and had a few bites but I just could not get anything consistently going. I was very confused on what stage the bass were in: Prespawn, Spawn or PostSpawn. I fished until sundown and headed back to the room for more map study and to figure out the plan for day two.


Practice – Day 2:

   Today I planned on exploring the 68/80 Bridge area on Barkley to see if the fish in this area where more predictable. Barkley is typically more colorful with stained water and more flooded cover. I hit several bays and with very limited success. I did see several cruisers. Were these males guarding the fry or were they males waiting for the next wave of females to arrive. I moved farther north and explored the reaches of a more natural creek to find lots of beds with males but nothing locked on. As soon as you cast they took off for cover. With the approaching full moon I thought they might be spawners waiting for their mates to arrive. If all else failed I could run back and check them during the tournament. I continued probing the Barkley area and never really got on anything consistent.  My room mate and I meet up and these fish were pulling the hairs out of my head again. Was the Monkey of Kentucky/Barkley still on my back? Cary had arrived at the lake earlier and had some tremendous days in the Yellow Flowers with a spinnerbait early in the week but he said everyday that bite seem to dwindle. He thought those fish were post-spawners. With the sun setting on day two I headed back to the landing. I needed to figure something out quickly as my practice time was running low.


Practice – Day 3:

  Since last night we got to move to our tournament lodging I planned to spend the day exploring the northern ends of Barkley and Kentucky. Cary invited me to help cover the waters he had success a week ago. We try to work as a team and we have built a trust and try to share information to help both of us get to our ultimate goal of making the Stren Championship. We entered the first pocket and I the conditions looked right to get a fish to rise on a buzzbait. I immediately had a nice fish rise on the bait. I seen you and know where you live. But after many cast later I started struggling again. We headed to the next pocket and I split to check out another smaller bay and got two solid bites from stake beds.  We continued to run several bays in Barkley and with a bite here and a bite there but never could get on a consistent bite anywhere.  We decided to split up and I went back to Kentucky Lake to explore some areas of past success. And the same thing happened. I could get bit but nothing consistent. I started to worry about that the monkey was back on my shoulders and dreaded three full days on this fishery. My mind was wondering and the best thing was to head back to the room and do some serious research and relax and rethink what was happening and the most important part where I would spend my last half day of practice.


 Practice – Day 4:

   After a very resistless night of sleep – worrying about how to catch fish, I decided that my best bet would be to head south towards Paris Landing and see if I could add anymore to my few bites on Day 1. I started hitting some bays with steeper pockets and noticed more and more males on the nest. Was it the area or where the males preparing for the next wave of females. In the past I have experienced that a trick worm or senko was very effective on the males at this time frame. I quickly started getting a few bites. With tournament day tomorrow I needed to save every fish and never set the hook.  I knew that this was not the way to a winning stringer but it might salvage my tournament and allow me to at least weigh a couple fish in each day a get needed points towards the championship.      



   I drew boat number 122 and had a long day to figure out and catch some fish. I made a decision to head south for day one and see what the results could bring. As I headed down the lake I noticed a nice bay and headed in for a look. This is not my normal tournament direction to go scouting during the event but what did I have to loose? Sometimes the worst practice brings the best results as you let the fish tell you what they want. On my 5th cast I hooked up with a solid keeper. The zero was off my back. I continued in to the bay and quickly caught my second keeper. Two down in 30 minutes and a lot of time to go. Both of these fish had bit my Watrermelon Red Finesse Worm. I continued fish and got several bites but only came back with the hook. They weren’t eating the bait just sucking on it. I noticed the water was a little more stained that in practice so I made a change to Green Pumpkin/Purple and started catching more fish but they were all smaller. I hit several more pockets with limited success. I then found a small, narrow pocket that contained deeper water and was loaded with beds. I caught two more very quickly on the finesse worm and seen several other nice ones cruising. Next I looked at my Humminbird 997c with the new Navionics 2007 Premium HotMaps and seen several similar pockets with deeper water. In the next pocket I caught several more fish and seen a couple more nice ones but they were already spooked. I proceeded into the Blood River area fishing the same type pockets and hooked up on a solid 3 pounder that jumped and came unbuttoned. The day was about half finished so I decided to run back and check out the pocket with the good ones I had seen. After pounding the area with only the little ones biting I was getting ready to head out when I seen a few deeper beds on my 797c2 Side Imaging unit on the trolling motor. I fired the finesse worm and a large female came up and just ate that worm. It was picture perfect. she was a solid 5 ½ to 6 pound fish and a great addition to the livewell. I decided to start running new pockets and areas on the way back to save the area for day 2. I ran into the bay that I had the big fish during practice and flipped into a bush and got bite, I reared back and my line broke and a big swirl. I kept hitting pockets and catching fish. Not a bad day for not being on anything. I ended the day with 14-03 and in 42nd place.



   With optimism from day one performance I headed back south. I started in the pocket that produced the first two keepers on day one. My co-angler started by catching the first two fish. I then started down the back with a chatter bait and had a nice 3 pound plus fish jump off. I was really wondering if this would be one of those days. I continued with the finesse worm and after pounding several pockets with no success. I headed to the deeper pockets. I paid much closer attention to my 797c2 with side imaging as it helped on day one. I started by fan casting the deeper beds and immediately started catching fish. Just about anywhere I could find the deeper beds on my side imaging; I could catch a fish. I put a limit in the boat with the finesse worm by noon. I needed to upgrade this small limit so I started hitting the shallower pockets  loaded with flooded willows and button bushes. I started flipping my big tube and started catching better fish. The bite was slow but very predictable. It was the last big willow or bush before it turned into the creek at the backs of the bays or pockets. I culled all my finesse worm fish out but needed the big bite. I lost two very solid fish flipping today – one broke me off and the other just got bound up in a cypress tree. I weighed a solid 12-07 and moved to 41st place. Still in solid check range, since they will be paying 60 places.



   Today I was boat 169 and a long day ahead for me and I liked my odds. What a difference a few days make. Struggling a week ago and now in position to make a run for the money. I decided my best bet to cash out in this event was to head back to my little pockets. The plan was to finesse them first then go big stickin’ with the tube. I headed to the same starting area to find three local boats in it. I tried to fish around them but only could catch a couple babies.  I headed farther south and everywhere I had caught them the beds were empty or they were very spooky. I started to wonder if I had made the right decision. I knew I had a long day and had already passed my expectations for the event. I told myself put your head down and go fishing and enjoy it. I headed to my favorite little pocket that had helped my in prior days. This place was small but just felt right every time I visited it. I quickly hooked up on my first keeper. The bite was a little slower and I started graphing the deeper bed in 3 to 5 foot of water. As I past a steel boat rail I could several beds and what appeared to be fish on those beds on my side imaging unit. I fired a cast in that direction and hooked up my second keeper. I decided I would make one more pass through this pocket but this time I try a split shot rig with the finesse worm to probe the deeper fish into biting. As I approached the steel boat rail I caught my biggest fish a solid 3 ½ pound ready to spawn female. I continued to pound the other pockets with only a few shorts. I decided to head to the Blood River area and try some of those pockets again. They looked text book to the other areas with very similar contours. I entered the first bay and never got a bump. I ran to the next one and just like the other I seen several beds and caught my fourth keeper. I ran several more with very limited success. But I noticed it was hard to see the beds with the wind. I looked at my Navionics chart and seen several nice bays on the opposite side out of the wind. Upon entering the first pocket I quickly hooked up on my fifth keeper. Was I relieved. I knew in my mind I had a check wrapped up. I continued hitting the pockets trying to get my con-angler some fish to weigh-in. But he could not find success. He told me to do what I needed to help my position. I told him I needed to go flippin but it would not be to his favor. I started running the pattern I found on day two. I knew which bush and trees I needed to hit. I ran several shallow bays and to no avail. I remembered some deeper willows in Johnathon Creek  quickly caught a solid keeper on the tube. Time was just about out and I moved closer to take-off but with no success. I finished the day with 12-12 and 35th place.




   Wow! What a change of events over the course of practice and this event. I went from worrying about catching a keeper to catching 23 keepers in the 3 days. What I learned from this event is that even though you have a bad practice – don’t give up. By being relaxed on day one and having no expectations of catching a big bag – I just went fishing and tried to let the fish tell me what to do. But there are several things that helped me produce in this event.:


First: my knowledge gained back home helped the most. I knew from my sight fishing days in Missouri where the easiest targets where for bedding fish. Even though many I could not see with my own eyes I knew where they preferred to bed and I went after them – I call it blind sight fishing.

Second: Was without my Humminbird Side Imaging sonar I feel that I could have easily missed out on several quality fish each day. This technology is amazing. I could see the deeper bed in the stained water and in several cases I seen the fish on the beds. This helped me to position my boat so that I could use my blind sight fishing techniques and place my baits in the highest percentage areas.  

Third: Navionics Maps. The new 2007 HotMaps Premium with one foot contours made it easier for me to find the right water once I had figured out the fish. I could drive down the lake and just about tell you which pockets would produce by the contour data Navionics provide on its charts.


My Tackle Selections:

- H&H Senko Special – Team Daiwa Advantage 153HST- 15# Cabelas Flourocarbon – Zoom Finesse Worm Green Pumpkin/Purple – Mustad 2/0 Hook

- H&H WR785 Worm rod – Team Daiwa Advantage 153 HST – 12# Cabelas Floucarbon – Ό oz. Tru Tungsten Weight – Zoom Finesse Worm Green Pumpkin/Purple – Mustad 2/0 Hook

- H&H FS907 – Team Daiwa Advantage 153HST – 80# Power Pro Braid – Reaction Innovations Boom Boom Tune Green Goby – 3/8 Tru Tungsten – 4/0 Mustad Hook

- H&H Spinnerbait Special – Team Daiwa Advantage 153HST – 14# Mustad Thor – 3/8 oz. Chatterbait w/ Custom Skirt


Place: 35th

Year-to-Date Standings: 28th


For More Information:

FLW Outdoors: www.flwoutdoors.com

Doug Vahrenberg: www.dougvahrenberg.com

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