Ebare takes over on Day 2 at Kentucky Lake - Major League Fishing

Ebare takes over on Day 2 at Kentucky Lake

Image for Ebare takes over on Day 2 at Kentucky Lake
Dakota Ebare didn't slack off at all on Day 2. Photo by Rob Matsuura. Angler: Dakota Ebare.
April 20, 2024 • Jody White • Invitationals

CALVERT CITY, Ky. – For a while, Dakota Ebare was a snake-bit young gun, getting close so often and not quite sealing the deal, time after time. Now, he’s basically a grizzled veteran compared to some of his competition, and there’s pretty much no tournament he can’t win.

Tallying an even 21 pounds – the biggest bag of the day – the Texas pro moved into the lead of Stop 3 Presented by Phoenix Boats on Kentucky Lake. With a 42-2 total over two days, Ebare leads the Tackle Warehouse Invitationals event by just under a pound, with three pros behind him who have averaged 20 pounds or better.

Falling to second, Andrew Nordbye weighed 18-11 on Day 2 for a 41-7 total, Colby Miller sacked up 20-11 to move up and Alec Morrison added 20-2 to his total to drop one spot in the standings. The entire Top 30 is averaging well over 15 pounds a day, and it’s been a genuine catchfest so far on Kentucky.

Smallmouth power Ebare to the top

Dakota Ebare has always had a soft spot for smallmouth, and he’s going full steam ahead this week. Photo by Rob Matsuura

Moving up from second, Ebare weighed all smallies so far, right along with basically everyone else in the top five.

Heading into the event, Ebare knew what he wanted to look for. He’s executed perfectly so far.

“I had in my mind kind of what I wanted to do before I ever got here,” Ebare said. “I practiced at Rayburn for a couple weeks when I was home for what I felt like was going to be down here, and it was, and it is, and it’s worked out.”

Fishing for smallmouth predominantly, he says he’s not 100% locked-in on bedding fish, as some of his peers are.

“Some of them are spawning, for sure,” he said. “But I think some of them are just hanging out on current and cover.”

Tight-lipped about the specifics, Ebare seems to know what he’s looking for, and he’s ran new water and old water so far – which should set him up well for the final day.

“The only thing is, there’s a lot of areas that have gotten a lot of pressure, and I don’t really know all of them,” he said. “I’ve been trying to stay out of the crowds. Tomorrow will be a lot more open, but I don’t want to fish a lot of dead water that has been pounded. I feel like I know what I’m looking for; it’s just about finding those right areas with fresh fish and getting a big bite. I’m catching a lot of them, but you never know when that next big bite is going to come.”

Given another good day, he may take home his third MLF win since January of ‘23.

“I think if I make good decisions tomorrow, I have a chance,” he said. “I think I’ve prepared myself well. I feel like I know what I need to look for. We’ve been down this road a bunch, and it hasn’t always worked out. But if I make good decisions tomorrow, I have a chance.”

Nordbye drops to second with a slower day

Andrew Nordbye may not be leading anymore, but he’s still very much in the hunt. Photo by Rob Matsuura

After setting the world on fire on Day 1, Nordbye wasn’t quite able to follow it up on Day 2.

“I caught probably around the same amount of fish, probably about 30 instead of 40, and the size went down today,“ he said. “I fished a lot of areas that I fished yesterday, just to see what a second day would do to them, and the big ones were lock-jawed or gone.”

The Kentucky Lake smallmouth have been getting hammered by tournaments for about four days in a row now, and it was a real open question what would happen. Would new ones keep rolling in? Would weights go down as they usually do in bedding smallmouth events? After the number of 20-pound bags was cut in half on Day 2, it seems like we have an answer.

“Most of them are spawning smallies, and I don’t think an additional wave came up at all,” Nordbye said. “I saw a lot less fish.”

Still, he’s ounces away from a career-making win.

“I have a good game plan for tomorrow, with some untouched water if nobody else fished it,” he said. “It’s happened a few times, being this close, and it feels amazing. It’s an opportunity that I’m blessed with, and Lord willing, we’re going to go out and win it tomorrow. As long as He provides those big bites, and they don’t break off, a lot of things can go wrong, but when it’s time, it’s time.”

Lava has nothing on Miller

Today’s wind couldn’t slow down Colby Miller, who did his best work once the lake got rolling in the late morning. Photo by Jody White

One of the hottest fishermen going these days, Miller sacked up another 20 pounds (as he does basically whenever he launches the boat) and moved into the top three.

“It definitely started slow,” he said. “I had one area where I caught all but one of my fish yesterday, and I had high hopes, thinking I could catch at least 18 there. It just never happened. I had 12 pounds, I think, and just started trolling around looking for something new.

“Within no time, I rolled across two spots that I thought I could catch a big one off, and the first one was a 4-9,” he said. “I caught another one 10 minutes later that was right at 4, and just went looking. I pulled into another area, saw some stuff I liked, and caught another one not long after.”

Fishing for spawning smallmouth for the most part, Miller was not immune to the trials and tribulations of that bite.

“They’re getting picked off very, very fast,” he said. “I still kind of think there are a lot of new fish coming. There are still spots that I saw yesterday that didn’t have fish, and today they had fish.”

Learning on the job, like many this week, Miller has been getting better at fishing the offshore Tennessee River smallmouth spawn by the minute.

“I came in kind of having an idea that it was going to happen, but yesterday is when I got it really dialed in,” he said. “Everybody is out there casting at random stumps. I’m not doing that so much. I’m looking for specific beds by a piece of cover or away from cover. If it’s away from a piece of cover, you’re most definitely going to get a bite, because nobody else has fished it yet.”

Top 10 pros

1. Dakota Ebare – 42 – 4 (10)               

2. Andrew Nordbye – 41 – 7 (10)       

3. Colby Miller – 40 – 14 (10) 

4. Alec Morrison – 40 – 9 (10)              

5. Brody Campbell – 38 – 9 (10)        

6. Nick Hatfield – 38 – 3 (10)                

7. Ken Thompson – 37 – 11 (10)           

8. Drew Gill – 36 – 8 (10)        

9. Kyle Hall – 35 – 15 (10)         

10. Jacob Walker – 35 – 13 (10)

Complete results

Fishing Clash AOY

Tackle Warehouse Invitationals anglers are competing for the Fishing Clash Angler of the Year award and its $50,000 payday. Fishing Clash – an interactive 3D fishing simulation game that’s been downloaded by more than 80 million people worldwide – is the official AOY sponsor of the Bass Pro Tour, Tackle Warehouse Invitationals, Toyota Series and Phoenix Bass Fishing League. 

Download Fishing Clash for free in the App Store and on Google Play or log on to www.fishingclash.game for more information.