May 7, 2015 by Colin Moore
“Up or down?”
Usually the big question anglers who compete in a tournament on long and lanky Kentucky Lake relate to whether they’re going to run north toward the dam or south toward Tennessee. In the Rayovac FLW Series event presented by Evinrude that begins this morning, the more appropriate question might be: “in or out?”
The three-day Central Division event out of Moors Resort & Marina is expected to produce some hefty limits, but there seems to be some disagreement whether the heaviest bags will be caught in close to the bank or out on the lake’s famed ledges. The 208-boat field includes the likes of ledge fishermen Randy Haynes and Mark Rose, but there are also shoreline specialists such as Bradley Hallman and Todd Castledine.
What works in the bank fishermen’s favor is the weather – a balmy 84 or thereabouts, with a water temperature of about 70 degrees – a waxing full moon and fairly light winds. There also might be a few late spawners out and about, and at least a few bass might be chowing down on the bluegills gathered in the shallows to begin their bedding season.
What favors the ledge fishermen is all of the above, except for the bluegills, and also the fact that the bass are returning to their offshore haunts.
“I know how it’s going to be won – I think,” says an equivocating Brandon Perkins, who placed 10th in the first Central Division tournament at Grand Lake and is one of about two dozen ledge specialists assembled here. “I spent the whole practice scanning, from New Johnsonville [Tenn., south of Paris Landing] north and I found a few schools. They’re not big schools, and there might be too many of us working on the same small schools, but there could be some big bags caught.”
“The weather is getting hotter and that’s going to push more fish out. If you can make it to Saturday [the championship round], the fishing is going to be a whole lot better,” continues the Counce, Tenn., angler. “A lot depends on what happens in the next couple of days and how fast the fish move out there. I’ve got about two dozen schools; in contrast, if it was a week from now I probably would have about 75 or 80 schools located. So I’m not as confident as I would be next week, but things can happen. I still say it’s going to be won out.”
Not so fast, says Terry Bolton, a Kentucky Lake regular who believes it will take a combination of inshore and offshore fish to win. The Paducah pro thinks a second wave of spawning fish is on the way and will help fill out some limits. He also thinks offshore fishing won’t start heating up for a couple of weeks and therefore the ledge bite is not to be trusted.
“There are not many ledges with any numbers of fish,” he says. “And a lot of those fish don’t bite very well. They’re still in their sickness period after spawning and just not very active. That’s why I wouldn’t pin all my hopes on the ledges producing all the fish you need to win this thing.”
Ramie Colson Jr. is in Bolton’s camp. He thinks the competitors who find fish spawning in deeper water, or guarding fry, or simply cruising the bank and sampling the current bluegill bonanza will do well. Colson, of Cadiz, Ky., practiced in Barkley and Kentucky lakes and “caught a lot of fish, but no size.”
“I’m hoping the weather will pull some fish out to where I’m trying to fish,” says Colson. “Somebody will find them between ‘out there’ and ‘in here,’ and I’d like for it to be me. Whatever happens, somebody will get on them pretty good. They always do. It will fish a lot better than it did last weekend in the BFL.”
Colson is referring to the Walmart Bass Fishing League tournament held out of Kenlake State Park last Saturday. The winning stringer in the one-day event weighed 16 pounds, 11 ounces, and just 11 limits were weighed in by the 144 boaters entered. Only one co-angler had a limit.
Sadly, some of the anglers signed up to fish the Rayovac event won’t have the opportunity. Because of tornadoes that swept through the Midwest Wednesday, two anglers – Zack Birge and Mario Riojas – headed for their Oklahoma homes Wednesday evening. Birge is the 2015 Rayovac champion and currently seventh in the Walmart FLW Tour AOY standings.
“A tornado went through our neighborhood and there’s a lot of damage,” says Birge, who lives in Blanchard, Okla., southwest of Oklahoma City. “Fortunately, my family was in Kentucky with me, but we’ve got animals and property back home that need to be tended – it sounds like everything is flooded and torn up.”
Sunrise: 5:55 a.m.
Water temperature: 69 degrees
Air temperature at launch: 60 degrees
Forecast high: 84 degrees
Wind: S at 7 mph
Weather: mostly sunny
All boaters and co-anglers will compete for two days. The top 10 boaters and co-anglers based on cumulative weight after two days of competition will advance to the third and final round, with the winner determined by the heaviest cumulative three-day weight.
Presenting sponsor: Evinrude
Host: Kentucky Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau
Takeoff time: 5:45 a.m. CT
Takeoff location: Moors Resort & Marina, 570 Moors Road, Gilbertsville, KY 42044
Days 1 and 2: 2:00 p.m. CT
Day 3: 3:00 p.m. CT
Days 1 and 2: Moors Resort & Marina
Day 3: Walmart, 310 West 5th Street, Benton, KY 42025
For complete details and updated information, visit the Rayovac FLW Series tournament page. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Rayovac FLW Series on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter at Twitter.com/FLWFishing.