If you’ve become weary of hearing about forward-facing sonar dominating tournaments over the last year or so, then Kerry Milner of Fisher, Arkansas is your breath of fresh air.
When asked if forward-facing sonar played a role in his catch, he confirmed that he didn’t have any on his boat.
“The way I’m fishing, I don’t think it would have been of much help anyway,” Milner says. “There are other guys fishing in the same areas, but I’m using a different technique; I could go in behind people today and catch fish after they left.”
Milner leads the event by just 5 ounces over Joseph Webster, but it’s the sheer numbers of 15-inch plus keeper bass Milner is catching that’s impressive. On the day, he estimates he caught between 15 to 20 keepers and noted that he caught more keepers than non-keepers.
“I have two places where they’re schooled up on herring,” Milner says. “At times, I can see the herring blown-up under the boat on regular 2D sonar. When I get the fish in the boat they are spitting up herring, too.”
Milner has fished Smith just two other times in his career, but experienced lackluster performances both times.
“We came here for another event and I got on this same pattern the first day of practice,” he says. “But that event was later in the year and, by tournament time, the schools broke up and headed to the bank to spawn. The water is colder this time around so I feel better about it holding up.”
Based on that experience, Milner came to Smith with a clear-cut idea of how he wanted to fish. He didn’t even get in his boat until 1:45 p.m. on the first day of practice. Given the cold temperature that first morning of practice, he wanted to let the day warm up as much as possible before trying to rekindle the magic he had found several years ago. In addition to his two hot spots, he has found several other places holding keepers on the same pattern.
Given the pace the field has set out of the gate, Milner says he’ll be catching all he can catch tomorrow. Behind him, Webster and Joshua Weaver are both hot on Milner’s heels and catching big spotted bass just like Milner.
1. Kerry Milner – 18 – 00 (5)
2. Joseph Webster – 17 – 11 (5)
3. Joshua Weaver – 17 – 04 (5)
4. John Cox – 16 – 13 (5)
5. Cole Floyd – 16 – 02 (5)
6. Bobby Lane – 15 – 15 (5)
7. Corey Neece – 15 – 03 (5)
8. Tai Au – 14 – 15 (5)
9. Ricky Robinson – 14 – 13 (5)
10. Kyle Cortiana – 14 – 08 (5)