Kentucky Lake Day 1 Coverage - Major League Fishing

Kentucky Lake Day 1 Coverage

Time for weigh-in
Image for Kentucky Lake Day 1 Coverage
Jeff Gustafson Photo by Chris Burgan. Angler: Jeff Gustafson.
June 9, 2016 • MLF • Archives

Quick Links

Live On The Water Twitter stream (scroll to the bottom)

Factors to watch

Key areas on Kentucky Lake


2:20 p.m.: Time for weigh-in

With most of our OTW crew headed back and the early flights getting close to their check-in time, It’s time to shut down our coverage for a bit. That said, there’s a lot to be determined at weigh-in, including just how good the afternoon may be.

Weigh-in Details

Watch the day-one weigh-in live at starting at 3 p.m. CT or come down and watch in-person at Kentucky Dam State Park at 7792 U.S. Highway 641 N., Gilbertsville, Ky., 42044.


1:35 p.m.: Building up

The current hasn’t really changed, but something seems to have changed on the water. Moments ago, Alex Davis busted a flurry and got up to around 16 pounds. Additionally, Jason Lambert has now worked his way to around 17 pounds (taking all day). We’re finally starting to see some good weights, the kind of weights that turn into 20+ bags with another good cull or two near the end of the day.  

Around the field, Gussy is stuck on about 15 pounds and David Dudley is catching the fire out of littles and has 13 pounds. 


1:20 p.m.: Hopping back

For pros fishing down south around Paris, Tenn., there’s a pretty significant run left to get back to the dam for weigh-in, which starts at 3 p.m. CT. Some will probably stick it out for a while and then make one long run at the end, but most will likely run a ways, stop on a open spot and then run some more, effectively hopping back until they are near weigh-in when the time comes. Oftentimes, the best action can occur late in the day on a spot that may not have been pressured for a while, which is extra incentive for pros to keep checking all the way back to weigh-in if possible. 


Bryan Thrift

1:00 p.m.: The fish are biting

A short while ago we found out and then confirmed that Todd Hollowell has a big bag (20+). We haven’t found him on the water yet, but we’ll do our best to make it happen soon.

Besides Hollowell, who was one of the most popular Fantasy Fishing picks, Brandon McMillan has culled his way up to about 18 pounds and JT Kenney has around 17 pounds in the boat.

While the fishing appears to be picking up, it isn’t doing so for everyone. Tom Redington only has two in the box with only a few hours to go. 


12:10 p.m.: Why are the ledge masters struggling?

So, we’re not actually going to have an answer to the question, but there’s something weird going on. Though Tom Redington, Keith Amerson, Stetson Blaylock and a few others have yet to be found, there’s a cadre of excellent offshore anglers that are doing nothing special so far. Per our reports, Randy Haynes, Jason Lambert and Michael Wooley all have about 13 pounds and Michael Neal only has three fish. All are complaining of missed timing, broken up schools or simply unexplained disappearances of bass.

The bite window on the Tennessee River can be small, and if it was missed by so many top ledge anglers that’s a big story. More likely, something will click and they will all get right eventually. 


11:40 a.m.: Adams’ strategy

Tracy Adams has taken a unique strategy to the day so far. Instead of banking on the ledges for all the action, he started his day up shallow and quickly put together a small limit. Now, he’s out deep with the rest of the crew looking for a biggun or two. It’s not often that pros willingly leave the ledges on Kentucky Lake, but it just might work if he can get a few good bites in the afternoon. 


JT Kenney

11:10 a.m.: Watching rods

In recent years, spinning rods and finesse tactics have become much more important on the ledges, but power tackle and big baits still generally triumph on the ledges.

Today, our reporters have seen a pretty solid mix, and a lot of pros are switching rapidly between rods. Perhaps the first cast is with a spoon or a swimbait, then a few throws with a worm, then a crankbait and then a spinning rod with a drop-shot or wacky rig. Sometimes, if you can get the fish to fire on one bait, you can then throw about anything you like into the school while they’re eating. 


Brad Knight

11:00 a.m.: Thrift is pouring it on, Knight has a kicker

As Anthony Gagliardi pulled off a ledge, Bryan Thrift pulled right in behind him. His first cast produced a 4-pounder. Shortly after, he upgraded again. Per Thrift, he’s got about 13 pounds, but because he’s Thrift it’s safe to say he actually has 15+.

Down south, Brad Knight just upgraded as well. He popped about a 6-pounder into the boat and culled up to at least the mid-teens, perhaps higher. 


10:20 a.m.: Morgan and Knight have found a home down south

Fishing well south of the Paris bridge, Andy Morgan and Brad Knight are fishing the same general area (about a football field apart) and they’re both doing some decent catching. Knight has himself about 13 pounds to start, and in the last few minutes, Morgan has boated three. Per Knight, Morgan is currently sitting on the spot where he himself caught about 20 bass this morning.

The further south you go on Kentucky Lake, the better the chances are that the next fish is a true giant, perhaps even a double-digit bass. There’s also a bit more grass and the ledges are shallower – a natural home for pros used to Chickamauga and Guntersville. 


Jason Lambert

9:54 a.m.: Lambert and Sprague are scuffling

Jason Lambert is unquestionably one of the top picks for this event, but so far it’s been tough going for the former FLW Tour Rookie of the Year. At the moment, Lambert has a limit for about 14 pounds and says he’s ”never seen it this hard to get a bite here.”

Jeff Sprague is leading the AOY race, but he’s not really crushing it now. So far, Sprague has three that “don’t weigh anything.” That’s technically impossible, but three little ones is not really the ideal start, especially because he had an early boat number. 


Jacob Wheeler

9:40 a.m.: Conditions aren’t uniform

Kentucky Lake is about 100 miles long and the weather can differ from end to end. Today, there’s a pretty good breeze blowing near the dam while the south end is still slicked off. That difference could prove pretty crucial. Up north, Marc Evans, Curtis Richardson and Shawn Gordon took advantage of the breeze on one school and each of them have limits for about 13 pounds.

Further south, in the mid-lake region, Andrew Upshaw is on the board with four keepers, all of which he caught in the last 30 minutes. Also mid-lake, Jayme Rampey has a small limit and just made a small cull. 


Glenn Chappelear

8:55 a.m.: Chappelear has 20 already

It can happen in an instant on Kentucky Lake, and it’s obviously happened for Glenn Chappelear. The veteran pro already has a 20 spot in the livewell – that’s a heck of a start and should lock him into at least a top 15 after day one. If he catches a few big ones, who knows where he could end up!


8:40 a.m.: McMillan is setting the pace

Somewhat surprisingly, Brandon McMillan is having the best outing so far. He just popped a 4-pounder, and the Florida pro now has around 15 pounds with just four bass. He says that Jeff “Gussy” Gustafson had to tie up a drop-shot for him this morning, but he only gave him one worm!

Around the field, Matt Arey has three for about 8 pounds in the ‘well and Jacob Wheeler has a pair of keepers. There are a lot of pros reporting some “weird” activity from the schools offshore, and that’s probably due to the lack of current. We didn’t get a report on him, but Jason Lambert has now made it down past Paris and touched in by Alex Davis for a bit. He’s moving and grooving looking for an active school. 


Terry Bolton

8:10 a.m.: Fish!

It may have taken a bit, but the lake appears to be turning on with an increase in current (up to 20,000 CFS now). Moments ago, Bryan Thrift boxed a keeper and Terry Bolton put a 3+ in the boat. Marc Evans has two in the boat and Brandon McMillan has the best start so far with three for more than 10 pounds. With any luck, Kentucky Lake is about to show out.

One guy not catching is Wesley Strader. He’s idled a handful of deep places now and given up on the fish for being “too weird.” Now, he’s headed up shallower.

Alex Davis is also not catching anything, but he’s on fish. Down south of Paris,  Davis says he’s sitting on a school with about 50 bass in it. The problem is getting them to chew. 


7:40 a.m.: Location and conditions

Tournaments on Kentucky Lake have been won from the dam to New Johnsonville on the south end, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see it won anywhere in between. To start the day, about 40 boats ran all the way down past Paris, and they didn’t appear to be stopping on the long haul toward the hydrilla and the giants at the south end. We’ll see how things shape up today – right now, there are a few boats visible from the dam, but it seems that most of the pros are concentrating on the mid-lake region.

Aside from virtually no current, the conditions for ledge fishing on Kentucky Lake are essentially perfect. That lack of current is a big one, but the light south wind that’s blowing with it should allow anglers to position perfectly. Their brethren may make that a little harder than it should be. Ledge-fishing events are notorious for some water sharing (sometimes happily, sometimes less so), and that’ll be a factor today. For instance, Anthony Gagliardi,  Bryan Thrift and JT Kenney are all sharing water to start the day. 


6:30 a.m.: It’s go-time on the best ledge-fishing lake in the world

Day one of the Walmart FLW Tour on Kentucky Lake presented by Mercury and hosted by the Kentucky Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau has dawned with nearly perfect conditions. Light winds and warming temps should make the ledges easy to fish and cause plenty of fresh bass to move out toward their summertime haunts.

Though pros can fish the north end of Lake Barkley as well, most of the action is expected to take place between the Kentucky Dam and New Johnsonville, all the way down at the far southern reaches of the massive Tennessee River lake. The primary pattern will be ledge fishing, targeting the places offshore in anywhere from 5- to 35-feet of water where the bass spend the summer to beat the heat. In the past, they were tricky to catch and find, but ever better electronics have made ledge fishing a much easier task and the best ledge anglers in the world fish on the FLW Tour.

Reports from practice indicate that the fishing offshore might not be going entirely full bore, but that also means more bass are heading out daily. By the weekend, it’s likely that we’ll see the best that Kentucky Lake can offer. One major environmental factor to watch is the current. At the moment, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is drawing only 14,000 Cubic Feet per Second (CFS) at the Kentucky Dam. The stronger the current, the better the fish bite and the more predictably and tightly the position on structure. Ideally, we’d see the TVA pulling 60,000 to 100,000 CFS for the duration of the event, but the reality probably won’t represent that dream scenario.

Regardless of the environmental factors, the fish are out there for huge stringers to come to the scales. There’s an excellent chance that it takes well over 80 pounds to win this four-day event.



Current temperature: 70 degrees

Forecast high: 89 degrees

Sky: sunny

Precipitation: no rain forecast

Wind: SE less than 10 mph 


Weigh-in Details

Watch the day-one weigh-in live at starting at 3 p.m. CT or come down and watch in-person at Kentucky Dam State Park at 7792 U.S. Highway 641 N., Gilbertsville, Ky., 42044.

Click here for complete tournament details.

Watch Live Now!