To lock or not to lock? - Major League Fishing

To lock or not to lock?

With fishing tough on the Ohio River, All-American contenders face even tougher decisions
Image for To lock or not to lock?
All-American contenders lined up in a row for day-one launch on the Ohio River. Photo by Jennifer Simmons.
May 31, 2007 • Jennifer Simmons • Archives

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League All-American championship may be paying out $1 million to competitors this week, but the Ohio River is going to make them work hard for their money. By all accounts, fishing this week will be tough, as the stingy river will likely make five-bass limits hard to come by.

All-American competitors are used to uphill battles, though, as the 108 competitors this week had to make it through a series of qualifiers to even get to this tournament, which is FLW Outdoors’ longest-running championship.

One angler fishing from the boater side is recent TBF National Championship winner Dave Andrews, who made the trek from Massachusetts to fish in Kentucky. He didn’t get a lot of practice time, but word on the street is that lack of practice may not matter much.

Dave Andrews said recent weather patterns and a grueling lock schedule will make this tournament particularly tough for competitors.“It’s tough – brutally tough,” Andrews said of the Ohio River. “But no one came down here expecting to catch big limits. I’m hoping for one to two bites a day, though that won’t win it. There are some decent creeks here, but you have to make a long run and mess with the locks.”

“Messing with the locks” requires anglers to perfectly time their fishing day in order to make it back through the locks in time for afternoon check-in. It’s a risk some anglers, including Andrews, don’t want to take. But it is a risk that the winning competitor may have to take.

“This tournament is more mentally grueling than most, having to worry about lock times and filling up with gas,” Andrews said. “The lock situation confined the playing field. Some guys will chance it; I’m not. That’s one variable I could control.”

In addition to working a day around a lock schedule, another risk anglers take when deciding to lock through to presumably more fishable water is the time factor – the long run and lock times combined make for a very short fishing day. But the reason why some will take the chance is because 7 to 8 pounds a day may be the best it gets around here this week.

“Twenty pounds across three days will probably win,” Andrews said. “I’m still going to make a long run, and I’m only going to have three or four hours of fishing time, and that’s more than some guys.”

The reason why the fishing is so tough is the recent heat wave that has descended upon the Bluegrass State, with spiking temperatures forcing the postspawn fish away from the places where anglers may have found them in practice a few weeks ago.

“The heat wave is another variable that made this tournament tougher than usual,” Andrews said. “Guys will find that where they had fish a couple of weeks ago, those fish have moved.”


All-American contenders stand at attention as cadets raise the flag during the singing of the national anthem.The historic All-American is one of the most prestigious events in tournament fishing, with more than 30,000 anglers annually vying for a shot at the lucrative title. In 1984 the All-American became the first bass-fishing tournament to award a $100,000 cash top prize. This year 108 anglers representing 27 states will be casting for a top boater award of $140,000 and a top co-angler award of $70,000.

Competition began this morning with takeoff from Carrie Gaulbert Cox Park located at 3730 River Road in Louisville, Ky. Cox Park will also host takeoff Friday, June 1, and Saturday, June 2, at 7 a.m. EDT, and competitors will weigh in each day at 4 p.m. at the Kentucky Exposition Center located at 937 Phillips Lane in Louisville.

Surrounding the weigh-in is the FLW Outdoors Family Fun Zone and Outdoor Show featuring dozens of exhibits from Ranger Boats, Chevy, Berkley, Lowrance, Evinrude, Yamaha and many more premier companies. The doors open at 2 p.m. Thursday and Friday and noon Saturday. Admission is free and the first 200 children 14 and under accompanied by an adult who attend the Family Fun Zone and Outdoor Show on Saturday will receive a free rod and reel combo. One lucky spectator attending the final weigh-in, Saturday, June 2, will win a new Ranger bass boat powered by Yamaha.

The entire field competes Thursday and Friday for an accumulated two-day weight. The top-10 boaters and co-anglers advance to Saturday, and the winners are determined by the heaviest three-day weight.

On the Web

For those unable to catch the All-American weigh-in action in person, offers FLW Live, an online application that brings fans real-time weigh-in results, streaming video and audio.

Thursday’s conditions

All-American boater contender Dicky Newberry heads off toward his day-one fishing hole.Sunrise: 6:21 a.m.

Temperature at takeoff: 66 degrees

Expected high temperature: 86 degrees

Wind: SSW at 6 mph

Maximum humidity: 46 percent

Day’s outlook: mostly cloudy early with isolated thunderstorms in the afternoon