Record Catch for Record College Field? - Major League Fishing
Record Catch for Record College Field?
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Record Catch for Record College Field?

Kentucky Lake primed for big limits in FLW College Fishing Open
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March 20, 2015 • Colin Moore • Abu Garcia College Fishing

GILBERTSVILLE, Ky. – Panama City, beach parties, Florida sunshine, bikini weather – big deal. Who needs Spring Break when you’ve got Kentucky Lake in March?

OK, maybe that’s a stretch, but how else to explain why a record-setting number of teams showed up for the FLW College Fishing Open tournament here? The official tally of bass fishing teams is 194, according to College Fishing Tournament Director Kevin Hunt, making this the largest collegiate fishing event ever. Teams from every corner of the country are represented here, with squads from as far away as Eastern Washington University competing the next two days. A flotilla left Moor’s Resort & Marina this morning, with individual boats scattering in all directions.

School spirit and pride aside, the anglers are fishing for a grand prize of a Ranger Z117 with a 90-hp Mercury or Evinrude outboard as well as automatic entry in the 2016 FLW College Fishing National Championship for the top 10 teams. It promises to be a hotly contested tournament, as several teams at Thursday evening’s registration reported good practice sessions despite the cooler, cloudy weather that has visited western Kentucky in recent days.

“It’s kind of scary how good the lake is going to fish,” promises Evan Smith of Murray State University, one of the favored colleges in this event. It has nine teams entered. “The fish are really aggressive; they’re really choking it, and it’s only going to get better because the weather is supposed to get sunny and a lot warmer by Saturday.”

A college event held last weekend out of Paris Landing, in Kentucky Lake’s Tennessee waters, saw many boats fishing far to the south, but several anglers who scouted the north and middle runs of the lake for this tournament say there are plenty of bass to be caught fairly close. For one thing, the flowage of water through Kentucky Dam has been reduced from highs of about 150,000 cubic feet per hour to about 106,000. Slowing the lake’s fall and reducing the associated current means bass will be more inclined to move toward the shallows up and down the main lake.

Though the water color in the lake and major coves ranges from milky to muddy, it doesn’t seem to have had a negative effect on fishing. What will separate the top guns from the also-rans, say prognosticators, is the size of their limits.

“From what we’ve found, I don’t think too many fishermen will have a problem catching a limit,” says Garrett Cates of Kansas State, who’s fishing with Tyler Nekolny. “The deal is going to be catching a good limit on Friday so it sets you up for Saturday. It will take maybe 40 or 50 pounds to win. That might be 15 pounds on Friday and 25 pounds on Saturday, but it could be vice-versa too. The fishing is gonna be good.”

Jackson Blackett and Austin Joiner of the always-tough University of Louisiana-Monroe squad would agree to that. They blew a power head within an hour of starting their first practice day, but caught “14 or 15 pounds” of bass in that short span.

“We’ve got three other teams in this, and they all had a good practice,” volunteers Blackett. “Basically our guys are fishing shallow, with some right on the edge of the spawning flats. The fish aren’t up there yet, but they’re headed that way and they’ll smack anything that goes by.”

Dakota Cantrell, a member of the Campbellsville University team from central Kentucky, which is competing in its first major tournament, wishes the event had started earlier in the week when he was practicing with his partner, Travis Hunt.

“I caught two 7-pounders and a 5, and I lost one that was about 10 pounds,” he says. “It was the biggest bass I’ve ever hooked, and I hope I meet it again in the next day or so. I’m ready to fish, and the weather we’ve got coming is only going to make it better. When the sun comes out Saturday and everybody starts digging out the umbrella rigs, look out.”


Fishing Conditions


Sunrise: 6:53 a.m.

Temperature at takeoff: 43 degrees

Expected high temperature: 59 degrees

Water temperature: low to mid-50s

Wind: SSW at about 2 mph

Day’s outlook: cloudy in the morning with little chance of showers; cloudy to partly cloudy in the afternoon.

Extended forecast: mostly sunny Saturday; wind out of the west at about 2 mph; in the mid-60s.

Moon phase: new


Competition format

In the Kentucky Lake Open, two members of an eligible college team fish together, and their 5-fish limit is weighed at the end of each fishing day. The full field competes in both rounds. The winning team will be determined by the heaviest accumulated weight for both days.



For those who can’t catch the weigh-in action in person, offers FLW Live, an online application that brings fans real-time weigh-in results and videos.



Location: Moor’s Resort & Marina, 570 Moors Road, Gilbertsville, Ky.

Time: 7 a.m. CDT



Location: Moors Resort & Marina

Time: 3 p.m. CDT