Bassmaster Elites hoping to find the Kentucky Lake they remember at BASSfest

By on June 3, 2015
Jacob Wheeler won last year's BASSfest at Chickamauga Lake. (Credit: Chris Mitchell/Bassmaster)

A recent cold front over Kentucky Lake had Bassmaster Elite anglers wondering where the fishery they remember had gone, as the lake showed them a finicky bite before BASSfest tournament began today.

But as unsure as they were about where the fish were, they were just as certain that someone would find them and put up the big numbers the lake is known for.

“It’s going to be an interesting tournament,” said Randy Kuhens, who operates Kick’n Bass guide service on Kentucky Lake. “Our water temps have been a little cooler this year. It’s been a topsy-turvy-type year for fishing.”

In addition to the weather, the current in this Tennessee River impoundment also affects the bite. Rainy weather had raised the lake recently, leading the TVA to generate water and set up a current that had turned the fish aggressive, Kuhens said.

“You could catch ’em on a deep diving crankbait, a spoon, any kind of bait that was moving,” he said. But one the extra water was siphoned off, things slowed down. “When the current subsided you had to have a slower presentation where you used a shaky head, a jig or a Carolina rig.”

Kuhens operates on a part of the lake around 40 miles north of Paris, Tennessee, where BASSfest anglers launch. He said the lake down there tends to be two to three weeks ahead of the patterns in the northern section. The fishing tends to be easier down near Paris, but it will also be crowded. He wouldn’t be surprised to see some boats run north.

“When they have tournaments up here people run down there to fish, and when they have tournaments down there they run up here to fish,” he said. “Kinda makes you scratch your head sometimes, doesn’t it?”

Anglers moving north will find fish in transition.  After a small wave of spawners in April followed by a bigger wave in May, Kuhens is expecting another spawn in June with the current full moon.

“I’ve been catching some females that haven’t dropped their eggs yet,” he said. “You’re going to have some fish that are going to drop their eggs and clear out of there.”

They’ll head for the river ledges, and anglers would do well if they can find a gully that connects a secondary channel to the main river channel. Those act as a highway for fish to transitioning from the spawning flats.

Despite a few largely unproductive practice days, the competitors are still expecting they’ll need 25 pounds a day to win. That was more or less the case during a Rayovac FLW Series stop on Kentucky Lake in early May. Texas angler Tom Redington won the three-day event there with limits of 24-13, 21-9 and 25-7 for a total of 71-13.

About Jeff Gillies

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