Jason Lambert masterfully managed the Kentucky Lake ledge game and notched a win at the Costa FLW Series Central Division event presented by Lowrance on Kentucky and Barkley Lakes. Spending all of his time in the former, Lambert targeted main river and secondary channel ledges and sacked up a three-day total of 71 pounds, 10 ounces.
As expected, ledge fishing dominated across the board, and some of the best offshore anglers in the business made their mark on the top 10.
2. Floyd finishes a close second
As a junior Business Administration major at Bethel University and a standout on the school’s fishing team, Cole Floyd appears to have a promising future ahead of him. But he’s wasting no time in making a name for himself and finishing just 7 ounces behind Lambert was definitely a move in the right direction.
In the hunt from day one, he took the number two spot in the first round by catching a limit of 24-7 and held that position through the final bell with subsequent weights of 24-9 and 22-3. His final tally was 71-3.
Floyd caught his fish on a Strike King 10XD in powder blue back chartreuse, a Texas-rigged Zoom Ol’ Monster worm in tequila sunrise and a dropshot with a Roboworm Fat Straight Tail Worm in the morning dawn color. Although his day-three bag included a 6-pounder, he says he had trouble getting his big fish going.
“I caught a lot of fish, but today, I think I needed an extra big one,” Floyd says. “But anytime you make a top 10, you can’t complain.”
Running about an hour south each day to within about five miles of New Johnsonville, Floyd targeted ledges and contour anomalies like the point of a bar. He did a lot of “looking” to dial in the right time to drop the trolling motor.
“This is my home lake and I spend a lot of time out there,” Floyd says. “I caught all my fish the way I like to catch them — looking at the graph. I like to run and gun, cover a lot of water, hit a lot of places and try to get something going.”
Day two saw Floyd experience a rare morning where he found a big school of fish stacked up and ready to eat. Slinging the 10XD, he sacked up a 20-pound limit in seven casts and upgraded to his day’s weight within the hour.
3. Haynes improves to third
Fishing his well-documented offshore strength, Tennessee pro Randy Haynes caught the final day’s biggest sack — 25-6 — and moved up from ninth to third with a total weight of 68-4. Essential to his success were the Profound Outdoors Z-Boss 22 and 24 (spot candy and grand shad colors) that he helped design.
“They’re the softest [pulling baits] and you can throw them farther than any bait out there,” he says. “I’ve done this so long my elbow is torn up and I get worn out from cranking because I’m throwing the bait so far.”
Also important to this technique was a 7-9 prototype cranking rod from Impulse Rods. The medium-heavy parabolic rod helped launch his big crankbaits, absorb a lot of the cranking pressure and ensure solid hook sets.
“I can throw my baits on lighter line (12-pound fluorocarbon) and get them a little more distance and depth,” Haynes says.
As Haynes noted, notoriety has it’s ups and downs and day three delighted him with more of the latter. While he constantly struggles with other anglers learning the spots he’s milked for years, his reputation serves him well when others extend a much-appreciated courtesy.
“I idled by several guys today to see if they were on the juice and I’ll tell you what, these guys down here are super; they pulled off and waved me in,” he says. “It’s really hard to do this because everybody knows everything now and it’s really special when the guys move out of my way and let me have it. It’s really been a blessing this week.”
4. Frazier squeezes key spot
Newnan, Georgia pro Micah Frazier earned his final-round berth by catching the event’s heaviest limit — 27-9 — on day two. This bag, which included an 8-pounder, moved Frazier up from 14th place to third. With 21-5 on day one and 16-4 on day three, Frazier finished in fourth with 65-2.
“I caught fish on a lot of different things,” Frazier says. “I was throwing a Scrounger a lot and a drop-shot a little bit; but it seemed like a jig was most productive.
“I was throwing a 3/4-ounce black and blue Buckeye Football Jig. Every year, it seems like there’s one little thing they like best and it seemed like the fish I was catching liked the jig more than anything. It would be in the back of their throat.”
Targeting main lake and creek channel ledges, Frazier located a highly-productive spot that produced most of his day-one and day-two weight. The spot proved minimally productive on day three, but he was able to scrape up a decent limit.
“The main spot I had was 12-13 feet on top, it was on top of a flat and it was one of those miracle places that nobody finds around here,” Frazier says. “It was close to a community hole, but it was up on the flat or the bar enough to where a lot of guys overlooked it.
“I never saw another boat on it. I caught 27 [pounds] there on day two and 21 [pounds] on day one; but the fish were gone on day three.”
5. Davis mixes it up for fifth
Diversity was the key for Clent Davis, as his fifth-place finish required a different game plan each day. The pro from Montevallo, Alabama caught 21-9 on day one, added 23-0 the next day and finished with 20-3 on the final day for a tournament total of 64-12.
“On day one, I ran close to New Johnsonville and caught them on a Duel Hardcore 4+ crankbait,” Davis says. “On day two, I caught them on a new worm from Mister Twister — they won’t let me show it to anyone yet, but it will be out in a few weeks.
“On the last day, I couldn’t get a bite on anything and I tied on a Nichols Lures Clent Davis Toadstool with a Mister Twister Comida [stick bait] and caught 20 pounds on a spinning rod.”
6. Bohannan relies on football jig for sixth
Old Spice pro Greg Bohannan enjoyed the sweet smell of success with three limits of 20-plus pounds. Steady in the top 10 from start to finish, the Bentonville, Ark. pro posted weights of 22-5, 21-10 and 20-11 to place sixth with 64-10.
Targeting main lake ledges, Bohannan tried to get the bite going on crankbaits, but he ended up catching all of his weight on a 3/4-ounce Bass-X football jig with a green pumpkin Strike King Rage Craw.
7. Graphing crucial for seventh-place Redington
Electronics and ledge fishing are the summertime assumptions for most Tennessee River anglers and FLW Tour pro Tom Redington stressed that point in describing his seventh-place finish with 64-4.
“I caught them on my Garmin graph,” the Texas pro says. “Randy [Haynes] is great with a crankbait, I like a swimbait, some guys are good with worms; and you can catch them on any of these baits. You have to know when they’re active, when they’re glued to the bottom and when they’re suspended.
“The graph is the key; you just have to know how they’re set up. We spend all this time out here graphing and once you see them, you instantly know it’s the right fish.”
Redington says he looked unsuccessfully for his ideal summer scenarios — the shallow side channels that most overlook. Unable to get his swimbait bite going, he caught his keepers on a 5-inch Lake Fork Tackle Flutter Spoon and a 3/4-ounce custom hair jig.
“The stuff I was fishing this week was out on the main river channel and everyone found it, so my weights went down every day,” he says. “The spots were beaten up and I didn’t have any place I could hide, so I had to try and out-fish them. These guys are too good to out-fish for three days in a row.”
Redington started strong with a day-one catch of 24-7, but the slide started on day two with a limit of 20-11 and continued in the final round, when he weighed 19-2.
8. Defew delighted with eighth place
Kentucky pro Jeff Defew got a nice boost from his day-two limit of 23-13, which secure his primary goal by moving him up from 16th to sixth.
“I came into this deal just hoping I could make it into the top 10 and I made it, so if I didn’t catch a fish today, there wasn’t any pressure on me,” he says.
Fortunately, Defew did catch some fish on day three and found a limit that went 19-11. Added to his day two catch and the 20-10 he weighed on day one, his effort delivered an eighth-place total of 64-2.
9. Brown leverages clandestine spots for ninth
Local pro Austin Brown broke 20 pounds each day of the tournament (20-13, 21-8, 20-13) and gained one spot in the final round to finish ninth with 63-2. Brown caught his fish on a Strike King 10XD in powder blue back chartreuse and a 3/4-ounce Slongs football jig with an Attack Pak craw in green pumpkin.
“I really tried to find some off-the-wall places that were more on the secondary channel; maybe a little shallower spots that weren’t as defined,” he says. “I found a couple of places where that really helped me.I had a couple of places to myself that were off the beaten path that everybody was fishing. I caught a few fish every day doing that.”
10. Hunter cranks his way to tenth
After breaking 20 pounds the first two days (23-12, 20-2), local pro Brandon Hunter struggled to continue his momentum in the final round. Adding a limit of 17-7, he slipped two spots to finish 10th with 61-5.
“One of my favorite things to do is to come out here and throw big plugs; I throw the Lucky Craft LC 6.5 XD and a lot of times, when I’m fishing some of that shallow stuff, I’ll throw that 3.5. We keep it simple out here — the shad colors and the chartreuse and blues have always been staples on this lake.”
Noting that he also caught some of his fish on a Nichols Lures Ben Parker Magnum Spoon, Hunter says he believes Kentucky Lake is fishing as well as he’s seen it in several years.