Some say “familiarity breeds contempt,” but not so for Jake Morris, the McKee, Ky., pro who closed the door on a dominant wire-to-wire win at the Costa FLW Series Central Division opener presented by Lowrance on Kentucky Lake with a three-day total of 44 pounds, 2 ounces.
For three days, Morris ran to Lake Barkley, which connects to Kentucky Lake by a canal, and devoted nearly every minute of his fishing time to a 75-yard stretch of bank in the Little River. Located on the backside of Goat Island, the key swath of shoreline had the seasonally attractive blend of rock and wood that prespawn staging bass favor. Cover, warmth and feeding opportunities all lined up perfectly.
“It was just back and forth, back and forth, and every now and then you’d catch one,” Morris says.
From the surface, this area looked no different than the thousands of yards of similar surrounding bank, but Morris knew better. His spot offered an unseen attraction.
“I practiced all over that creek and finally found that one little back area that had 4 to 6 feet of water right against the bank,” Morris says. “Out off the bank it would get shallower; it was like a little ditch there on the bank. They were just stacked up in there and waiting to go spawn. That depth was totally the key.”
Enhancing the spot’s depth advantage was an attractive water color. With two consecutive days of nearly flat conditions Friday and Saturday, coupled with clear water, many anglers struggled to get, particularly pros fishing the main lake and in the mouths of the creeks. Morris camped in some of the dirtiest water on the fishery. Doing so set him up to catch his fish on a Stan Sloan’s Zorro Baits Aggravator spinnerbait with a chartreuse skirt, Colorado and willow-leaf blades, and a white Zoom Fat Albert Grub trailer.
“It stayed dirty in there all week, and they just couldn’t stand that blade,” he says. “If it hadn’t been as dirty as it was, I wouldn’t have done nearly as good.”
Morris says he found fish all along the ditch, but a particular spot proved consistently productive.
“At the end of that ditch it flattened back out, and there was quite a bit of wood in it,” he says. “In practice, I caught one about 4 1/2 pounds there. On day one, I had a 5 and a 6. On day two, I caught a 5 off one tree. I don’t know why they were there, but the smallest one was 4 pounds.”
Those two day-one chunks helped Morris take the early lead with 24-10, which turned out to be the event’s heaviest bag. Additional fishing pressure in his area held him to three keepers for 13-12 on day two. In the final round’s tougher post-frontal conditions, he managed just two for 5-12.
“I’m as proud of those two as I was that 24-pound bag on day one,” Morris told the weigh-in crowd at Moor’s Resort and Marina.
Morris’ most impressive stats were the distances he put between himself and the rest of the field. He led by 4-9 on day one, followed by 7-6 on day two and a final winning margin of 6-14. The key all week was a glacial presentation.
“The slower the better; I couldn’t go much slower,” Morris says. “They wanted it crawling. It was almost like fishing a crankbait. I was using a reel with a 6:1 gear ratio to help me slow it down a little more.
“You wanted it bumping the bottom, and it would just get heavy. Half the fish I caught, I didn’t feel anything. It just felt like your bait was on a limb.”
1. Jake Morris – Mc Kee, Ky. – 44-2 (10) – $39,608
2. Steve Floyd – Leesburg, Ohio – 37-4 (12) – $15,548
3. Shawn Kowal – Linn Creek, Mo. – 36-9 (12) – $11,982
4. Jimmy Washam – Covington, Tenn. – 35-11 (9) – $9,902
5. Cole Floyd – Leesburg, Ohio – 35-6 (11) – $8,912
6. Dan Morehead – Paducah, Ky. – 30-5 (8) – $7,922
7. Brad Cook – Afton, Okla. – 30-3 (9) – $7,131
8. Christopher Jones – Bokoshe, Okla. – 28-15 (8) – $5,941
9. William Campbell – Middlesboro, Ky. – 28-8 (9) – $4,951
10. Travis Wilson – La Harpe, Ill. – 23-6 (7) – $3,961