After being postponed due to COVID-19, the annual Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Open is set to take place on Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley in mid-September for the sixth consecutive season. This time around, however, the stakes are even higher, as teams compete for a brand-new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat and 20 spots in the 2021 National Championship.
Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Open
September 16-17, 2020
Before we get to the fishing, let’s start with what can be won. Here’s the rundown:
– The winning team at the Open takes home a Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat powered by a 115-hp Mercury outboard worth $33,500.
– The top 20 teams at the Open qualify for the 2021 Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship.
One major thing to make note of for this tournament is the rule change that takes place starting September 7th. It reads as follows:
There is no practice period or off-limits period prior to the start of the tournament. Contestants may not enter tournament waters to locate bass or potential fishing waters or sightsee after midnight on the day the tournament starts except during tournament hours. Testing equipment on tournament waters prior to takeoff is permitted only with prior approval from the tournament director. Beginning September 7, 2020, contestants may only practice on tournament waters with a member of their club who is eligible to compete in FLW College Fishing tournaments. Nobody else, except an FLW editor, FLW producer or approved media representative, is allowed in the boat. Beginning September 7, 2020, and extending through competition days, contestants may not solicit and/or receive information about locating or catching fish on tournament waters from anyone except contestants confirmed in the tournament and through publicly available sources (quasi-public websites, blogs and/or social media pages, including but not limited to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Periscope, set up for the specific purpose of sharing information with individuals or a small group of individuals are not publicly available sources). Beginning September 7, 2020, and extending through competition days, contestants may not place brush or other physical fish attractors, including chum of any kind, in tournament waters. Beginning September 7, 2020, and extending through competition days, teams may not follow a noncontestant’s boat or participate in the placing of markers, brush or other fish attractors by noncontestants or the practice of “hole sitting” by anyone. Violation of this rule may result in disqualification.
How the lake sets up
Kentucky Lake (on the Tennessee River) and Lake Barkley (on the Cumberland River) are about as well known to tournament anglers as any reservoirs in the eastern U.S. They’re vast, at 160,000 acres on Kentucky and 58,000 acres on Barkley, and stretch farther from north-to-south than a bass angler could possibly travel in a single tournament day.
Takeoff is at Moors Resort & Marina, which is only 7 miles south of the dam at Kentucky Lake’s far northern end. The two reservoirs run parallel to one another, with Kentucky on the west and Barkley on the east. Getting to Barkley from Moors takes about 10 to 15 minutes via a canal that slices across the mostly undeveloped Land Between the Lakes (LBL), a U.S. Forest Service National Recreation Area that rests between the reservoirs.
The western shore of Kentucky Lake and eastern shore of Barkley are more heavily developed than their LBL sides, with lakeside homes that include docks and riprap-stabilized shorelines. In between, there are stump fields, brush piles, points, shallow bars, vast flats, and untold miles of river and creek ledges where bass are known to hole up just about any time of year.
What to expect
Fall on Kentucky Lake usually means one thing – topwater time. Though that bite tends to get better as the fall progresses, there’s no doubt some good fish will be weighed via a topwater like a Berkley Cane Walker or Heddon Zara Spook. That being said, last September’s Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine LBL Division event saw a topwater play some, yet was ultimately won by Billy Schroeder, who targeted brush piles in roughly 12 feet of water. So, expect a bit of everything for this event, especially with the caliber of teams that will be competing.
While the teams in the Open may not set record catches, that’s not really the point of the event. The Open is an awesome way to solidify a National Championship berth – and a great way to do it before many of the divisions conclude the season. Add in the fact that the winning team earns a new Phoenix boat and that only sweetens the deal. So, if you’re a college angler, don’t miss out on this huge opportunity. Sign up today for one of the biggest events this fall.