Oh, Canada? While Ontario angler Curtis Richardson maintains a tenuous lead going into the championship round of the Walmart Bass Fishing League All-American hosted by the Henry County Alliance on Kentucky Lake, the rest of the top five hope to claim the crown and the $100,000 top prize ($120,000 if Ranger Cup-qualified] for themselves.
Like Richardson, the would-be boater champions are all fishing ledges ranging from near the mouth of Jonathan Creek toward the northern end of the vast lake, south to New Johnsonville, Tenn. In between are anglers who haven’t strayed far from Paris Landing, nor are they likely to on Saturday when the predicted gale-force winds will make fishing unpleasant at best.
Read all about Richardson's pattern here.
Here’s a look at the boaters who are in the best position to overtake Richardson.
2. Billy Schroeder – Paducah, Ky. – 45 pounds, 8 ounces
The Paducah angler had four keepers, including a 5-pounder, by 8 a.m. and wound up with 23-03 for the day. Though he wonders about what the fishing might be like somewhere else, Schroeder has found no compelling reason to leave his haunts in and around the mouth of the Big Sandy River. In fact, the veteran has been the model of fuel economy, having never been out of sight of the Highway 79 bridge.
“I had 14 or 15 pounds when I got on a point, missed a fish, then caught a few 3-pounders,” says Schroeder. “Then I picked up a big spoon and wound up culling four fish. A friend, Zach Parker, showed me the point, and he did me a favor. I didn’t go to it Thursday; I didn’t have to. I’ve fished four places now and never been more than four or five miles from the bridge. I’ve got about 18 schools here and there, but I just can’t leave the area.”
Who can blame him? He’s culled at least three dozen fish in three days of fishing in his little neighborhood.
3. Bobby Padgett – LaGrange, Ga. – 44 pounds, 15 ounces
The Georgia angler was on big fish in the opening round, and he wasn’t on day two. That was the story. Though Padgett caught plenty of fish, he never got on the kickers that would keep him in the lead. His limit for the day totaled 17-02, about 10 pounds off Thursday’s weight.
He ran about six spots between the bridge and Jonathan Creek, but was a victim of the wind Friday. Though he culled eight fish, Padgett only gained an ounce or two each time.
“It was so windy I couldn’t hold on my spots the way I wanted to and my electronics didn’t help me much,” says Padgett, who caught two fish on a Z-Boss 25 crankbait, one on a swimbait and the rest on a Carolina rig with a Zoom Centipede.
“The bigger fish were biting better in the afternoon when it was sunny [Thursday],” he says. “That didn’t happen today [Friday] and there wasn’t anything to be done about it. It’s probably going to be about the same Saturday as far as the wind is concerned. I’m putting my money on Billy Schroeder winning this thing. When conditions are bad, the best fishermen find a way to win, and he’s a darn good fisherman, especially on this lake. He knows places to get in out of the wind on the main lake and catch a fish or two. That’s going to be huge.”
4. Jeremy Lawyer – Sarcoxie, Mo. – 44 pounces, 3 ounces
A champion of the always formidable Ozark Division of the BFL, Lawyer ran his same route Friday, from the bridge to the dam, stopping here and there to sample the ledge buffet. On his first cast, he caught a 5-pounder, but it was slow going after that. He finally had his limit by 2 p.m., then culled every fish he had except the 5-pounder between then and quitting time. His total was 22-09.
“I checked about 40 spots today,” admits Lawyer. “Some I just graphed looking for schools, and some I made a cast or two on before leaving. If they didn’t look good or I didn’t get a bite, I just kept on going.”
5. J.R. Henard – Rogersville, Tenn. – 42 pounds
The Tennessee angler culled about 20 times after catching his limit by 10 o’clock. Mainly he fished the same water as Thursday, though he tried a couple of new spots that didn’t pan out. By day’s end, he had 21-05.
“I’m paralleling a ledge and staying on the deep side,” he says. “I didn’t even turn on my fish finder today and just ran a route. It seems like I can keep them biting longer if I don’t have the graph on. It might be my imagination, but that’s what I think.”
Henard is fishing with a football jig, swimbaits, a crankbait and a large worm.