Some Like It Hot
Last Friday and Saturday, I fished in what has, for the last few years, been the official summer kick-off for me, the Triton Owner’s Tournament. This is the fourth year in a row that the event has been held on Kentucky Lake the week of Memorial Day. My partner, Jason Sain and I have been fortunate to do well in this tournament in the past. We won it two years ago and finished 12th last year. I spent two days in the 96 degree heat practicing for the tournament.
You have to approach a tournament like this a little bit differently than an average weekend event. With 310+ boats, not to mention all of the other tournaments on the lake, you have to look for stuff that is less obvious and find lots of fish. If you don’t, you’ll just spend the day mad because you can’t get on any of your best places. On Wednesday, I found 10 schools of bass. Some of them were on more obvious places than others, but I found several that I doubted anybody else would find. On Thursday, Jason joined me and we tried to expand on what I found Wednesday. Unfortunately, we didn’t find much.
We started on the south end of the lake where we have been very successful in the past; however, after three or four hours without a bite, we were heading back to Paris. I was cruising along about 4000 RPMs when I heard an awful noise. The lower unit went out and we were dead in the water. Fortunately, I had a buddy less than a mile away. (Thank you Randy Sullivan!) Using the trolling motor, we got on the closest ledge and I started trolling a crankbait behind the boat. To my surprise, I caught a bass within just a few minutes. We turned the boat around and started firing casts back at that spot and it was loaded! We caught fish on every cast for about 10 minutes, until Jason caught a 4 pounder. At that point we decided to leave these fish alone. After a trip to the Mercury trailer, I had a new lower unit in less than fifteen minutes. It was amazing. We spent the rest of the afternoon hunting for big fish, and found one more promising spot.
We were boat 231, and took off at about 6:45 on Friday morning. My first two schools had boats on them of course. So, we stopped at a place where I had caught a good one in practice. Within a couple of casts, Jason bowed up on a four pounder and the day was off and running. That was the only fish we caught there, so we headed to my next stop. I could see from a distance that there was nobody on it. I was really excited to fish this place. On Wednesday, it had been every cast with several doubles before I left them alone. As soon as we pulled up to the waypoint, the catching began. Every cast, both Jason and I had one on for about 20-30 minutes. We probably caught 5 doubles (two fish on the same crankbait), including twice with 4+ pounders. We caught and culled and caught and culled. Eventually the school broke up and we left with about 19 or 20 pounds. The rest of the day was fairly uneventful. We caught several more fish, but never got on another school. All of the rest of the fish we had found either had boats on them, or were gone. We culled a few times during the day for a couple of ounces. With about 20 minutes to fish, we stopped on a spot near Paris Landing. Jason set the hook on a fish with a worm and sounded kind of surprised when he said, “This kind of feels like a good one.” The fish was over five pounds and dramatically helped our cause. We left with 22.46 and ended up in 6th place after day one.
Both Jason and I knew that we would have to do something different on Saturday if we wanted to have a chance to win. I figured it would take somewhere in the neighborhood of 43-45 pounds to win, meaning we would need 22-23 pounds to have a shot. I doubted our places from the day before would produce that kind of weight so we decided to start on our school from the day before and play it by ear from there. After a 15 minute run, I was relieved to see nobody on the ledge. We pulled up and made three or four casts as I moved the boat into position. On about the fifth cast, I was right on where the school had been the day before. As my crankbait made it almost back to the boat, I told Jason that this was not a good sign. No sooner than I got those words out of my mouth, the rod loaded with a good fish right under the boat. Jason got the net and she jumped once. It was a 4+ pound bass and she was skin-hooked with the back treble. I eased her within about ten feet of the boat before she surged and pulled loose. That was not the start to the day I was hoping for. The bass were still there, but evidently, we had educated them the day before. We probably caught twenty, including a five pounder Jason caught, before they packed up and headed for who knows where. For the rest of the day, we struggled. We hit three or four places from Friday, but those fish had packed their bags as well.
Jason and I have been fished together for thirteen years. We have been fortunate to win quite a few tournaments, and both of us are extremely competitive by nature. We made the decision that rather than sit around and hope for a bite, we were going to try to find a school of big ones and have a shot at winning. We spent the whole rest of the day looking for fish in new water, but unfortunately, never found them. We weighed-in a somewhat disappointing 16 pounds and fell to seventh place. It took 52 pounds to win the tournament, which is a testament to the great fishery and the caliber of fishermen in the event. I guess I’m somewhat glad we didn’t catch 25 pounds on Saturday, because it would have been very disappointing to come in thinking we would win, and still finish 4th.
All in all, I am thankful that we had a great four days of fishing. Caught 100’s of bass and survived the 96-98 degree temperatures. Hopefully this is the start to a great summer of ledge fishing. I’m looking forward to it!
Until next time, keep chunkin’ and windin’.
Boat US ANGLER ProStaff
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