FLW Costa Series Kentucky Lake Recap – Mike Mueller

By Mike Mueller

Stop number 2 on the FLW Costa Series Central division was held at one of my favorite spots in the country…Kentucky Lake.  The only thing better than Kentucky Lake is Kentucky Lake in the spring with the water up in the bushes!

Back home in Northern Virginia, we had to do a lot of re-rigging, as all spring I had been fishing light-line/clear water techniques for smallmouth here in the rivers, and largemouth in the deep mountain lakes.

My arsenal for the week was going to vary.  My Razr Rods and Lews reels were paired up to handle many different situations.  I had a Jewel Finesse Flipping jig paired up with a Snack daddy Ditch Chicken trailer, a BassCraft SB2.5 Squarebill, a Bionic Spinnerbait, a swimbait, a Topwater Whopper Plopper, and a finesse setup with a Eco Pro Tungsten Money Maker shakey head tipped with a Snack Daddy Snack Stick.

13383380_10206365593961946_245781095_oAfter a 12-hour drive and a good night’s sleep, I was able to pair up with fellow Lew’s teammate and local stick, Terry Bolton.  The tournament was taking out of Paris Landing, so we chose to run south to the Danville area.  We started on a steep rip rap bank, and it didn’t take long to see that there was a shad spawn occurring.  We quickly had some quality bites with Terry’s spinnerbait and my SB2.5 in a shad pattern.

After determining that bite, we decided to go shallow and hit the flooded bushes.  The lake had been up, but it was falling.  For those who understand falling water in spring during the spawning season, you know that this makes for a tough bite.

We knew that with the water dropping we had to focus on some deeper bushes on the outer edges of the spawning areas, as the fish would be pulling back.  Our plan was successful as we proceeded to shake off about 20 fish doing this throughout the day in various locations down South.

13383746_10206365594401957_179358248_oNear the end of our practice day, we went back to the rip rap where we stared.  We pulled back deeper and dragged jigs and a Ditch Chicken Craw.  These produced a few more fish, including a nice 4.5-pound largemouth I got deep on the Ditch Chicken.

On Day 2 of practice, we decided to fish farther north.  We tried to duplicate the rock pattern, but it didn’t pan out.  The water had dropped another 6-8″ overnight, so we went searching for deeper brush.  We caught and shook off a number of fish flipping my Jewel Finesse Flipping jig, but on this shorter day, the bite was not as strong as it was down South.

At the meeting later that night I was able to meet up and see many of my fishing friends and family from the Midwest that I had not seen in the few years since I moved out East.  As I met my Day 1 partner, we have a late draw and he is going to be sight fishing on the North end of Barkley Lake – an hour plus run from Paris Landing.

I spend the night in the back of my truck re-rigging under the bright lights of my Bluewater LED’s that I have installed in my vehicle – a MUST HAVE for Co Anglers in my opinion.  After an evening of re-rigging, we’re ready to sight fish and we’re off to a good night’s sleep.

After making the long run on the first morning of the tournament, we pull into a good looking spawning bay.  My boater is spending the better part of the morning with the Power Poles down, picking off a good limit of fish – about 14.5-pounds in the first 90 minutes.  While he is fishing a simple Senko with a 1/4 oz. weight, I opt for my trusty spinning rod and a wacky rigged Snack Stick.  I was able to put 6 fish in the boat – all but one was 14.75-inches on a 15-inch limit.  It was frustrating but at least I was able to figure out how to catch them under a tough situation.

As the day wore on, and the bite disappeared, we moved on to a main-lake dock pattern.  Dock fishing for a Co is just as challenging as sight fishing, as the opportunities are limited at best.  Late in the day I was able to skip my finesse jig under a walkway off in the distance, and was rewarded with a nice 3 pound 5 ounce post-spawn largie.

My low weight on day one had me sitting in 124th out of 210 anglers – definitely not what I envisioned after a good practice…but those are the perils of a Co angler, and you just have to roll with what is presented to you.  I couldn’t help but think what those 14.75-inch fish could have done for me if they were just a hair longer!  I definitely would have had over 10 pounds, and well within the top 53 check cut line.

My day 2 partner was focusing on post-spawn fish in bays and cuts closer to Paris Landing.  He was throwing a Carolina-rig in the in the middle of the bays.  The morning was very slow, and I only netted him two small keepers and several more shorts for me.  By 11:00am, things were not looking good for either of us.

On our next stop (which ended up being our last stop), was a cove where we continued to fish the middle of the bays.  This particular spot had a deep rock bank that I noticed near the mouth of the bay.  I mentioned to my partner how well I had caught fish off the deeper rocks in practice, and that it might be a good idea to try them out.

13340760_10206365599882094_1142674592_oWe made our way over to the rocks and my first cast with my Razr Rods spinning rod and Lew’s Pro Spin reel netted me a nice 17″ largemouth.  It hit my Eco Pro Tungsten Money Maker shakey head with a downsized 4″ Green Pumpkin Snack Stick.  In the next 9 minutes I netted 3 total keepers, all about the same size, and my partner was also catching them.

It’s great when a boater and a Co actually work together and when they’ll actually listen to the advice of a Co.  Over the next 3 hours, we seined the area for 12 keepers…unfortunately outside of my initial flurry, I couldn’t put another keeper in the boat.  My boater had a good limit, and was trying hard to get me on fish, but they kept hitting his tube and C-rig ahead of me.

With 5 minutes left, my class-act of a boater did something that you almost never see.  He had a fish hit and miss his tube.  He quickly told me to throw my tube in.  He showed me exactly where to cast, and after a hop or two of my Snack daddy Elite Tube, a solid largemouth hit it, and I got my 4th fish in the boat.

As weigh-in finished, I had 4 fish for 9 pounds, and a total of just over 12 pounds for this tough event.  I jumped almost 60 spots from day 1, but fell ounces out of getting a check. In retrospect, the only thing I would have done differently was to fish a drop shot Snack Stick, wacky-rigged, on day two after my shakey head bite disappeared.

As tough as the event was, I was happy with my fishing.  I fished a clean event and never missed a fish that bit all week.  I feel that I did all I could do, given the circumstances of being a Co Angler in an event like this.

My next stop is Wheeler Lake in Alabama for the 3rd and final stop on the FLW Costa Series SE Division.  I’m sitting in 27th in the AOY standings going into the last event, and qualifying for back-to-back National Championships is on the line.  I feel that if I can catch one fish each day, I should be able to make the top 40 that it takes to qualify.

To make it even more exciting, the Championship is back at my old “Home” lake – Table Rock in Missouri.  It is the first week of November, and my last two major wins came from there in late Oct/early Nov.  Needless to say, I’m REALLY looking forward to qualifying for that event!

I have to add a final note.  If you’re ever at Kentucky Lake, please pay a visit to Kevin Baxter at The Cabin Bait and Tackle, or visit them at TackleExperts.com.  He not only has the premier shop on Ky/Barkley Lakes, he provides the ultimate in customer service.  On the evening before the event, I needed some tackle that I didn’t have.  I reached out to Kevin, and not only did he have what I needed, but realizing how busy we are the night before an event, he made the hour long drive from Kuttawa, Ky all the way to Dover, TN to hand-deliver these items to me.  Kevin works with the TOP pro’s in the country on a daily basis, so for him to hand deliver things to a not-so-famous Co angler like myself tells me a lot about character and his business.  He as definitely solidified me as a future customer!

Bio:

Circuits fished: Central Pro Am, LBL BFL, Michigan BFL, Everstart Series

Years co: 25

Favorite technique: Flipping a jig

Hobbies aside from fishing: Watching my kids play sports

Sponsors: 5X3 FishingLew’s ReelsBass Craft CrankbaitsJewel Bait CoRazr RodsRudy Project EyewearSnack Daddy LuresElite Rod SleevesBionic Custom BaitsBlue Water LED, The Pond Pro, G2 Gemini, Eco Pro Tungsten, Tackle Tags, The Bait Sack, Angler Hub