Lawrence keeps the hammer down in Kentucky, weighs all smallies on Day 2 - Major League Fishing

Lawrence keeps the hammer down in Kentucky, weighs all smallies on Day 2

Image for Lawrence keeps the hammer down in Kentucky, weighs all smallies on Day 2
Jake Lawrence is making it look easy on Kentucky and Barkley lakes this week. Photo by Matt Pace. Angler: Jake Lawrence.
April 21, 2023 • Tyler Brinks • Toyota Series

CALVERT CITY, Ky. – Kentucky and Barkley lakes kicked it up a notch today at the total Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats Plains Division event, and once again, local pro Jake Lawrence weighed the day’s best bag. His 19-pound, 9-ounce bag of smallmouth brought his total to 38-12, a lead of 2-3 over Minnesota’s Adam Bartusek.

The top four anglers in the standings all eclipsed 19 pounds today and smallmouth were the dominant species and the rainy and cloudy conditions certainly seemed to help the bite for the smallies. But tomorrow could be a different story, with no rain in the forecast and the chance for windier conditions.

This event is presented by Jenko Fishing and hosted by the Kentucky Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Lawrence is seeing success with a spinning stick and sharp electronics work.

Another 19 for Lawrence

Lawrence, the 2018 Toyota Series winner on Barkley Lake, is making it look easy with the best bag of the day two days in a row. His success so far has come down to playing the weather conditions and fishing what Kentucky Lake gives him.

“I’m trying to be strategic about this because the weather plays such a big role here,” he said. “I’m fishing what I’m able to, mainly where I can fish with different wind directions. I felt like I could run the whole lake today in the calm conditions. Tomorrow with a hard northwest wind, I’ll have to fish different areas.”

Like yesterday, Lawrence cycled through plenty of fish to get to his final tally.

“I caught more fish than yesterday, but not as many were keepers,” he said. “I’m finessing them all and fishing light stuff, so the wind affects what my bait is doing down there. You need to be in the right zone without too much wind to fish effectively.”

His success this week has primarily come with smallmouth and he’s targeting bedding fish with the help of his electronics.

“I can’t see them with my eyes,” he said. “I’m using LiveScope and targeting those deeper spawning fish. It’s a matter of running enough water to come across five of the right ones.”

Adam Bartusek and Jake Lawrence are fishing very similar patterns.

Minnesota’s Bartusek says Kentucky Lake feels like home

Yesterday on stage, Bartusek mentioned that it feels like home here on Kentucky Lake and he once again brought a solid limit of all smallmouth to the scales today. His 17-8 yesterday and 19-1 today have him in second place many miles from the Gopher State.

“I’m feeling good about what I’m doing, even though today I saw a lot more people doing it,” he said. “I found some new areas today and caught a couple of bigger ones from those places. Tomorrow, I will try to go even bigger and see what this place can put out for brown fish.”

Bartusek was very complimentary of the Kentucky Lake smallmouth population from what he’s seen this week.

“It’s spectacular and the population of smallmouth is insane,” he gushed. “I caught 30 or 40 of them today and my co-angler had a good limit of them, too.”

He mentioned that he has approximately eight areas he’s rotating through and saved a few of them for the final day.

“I saved quite a few fish, but I’m going to lean on them tomorrow and have fun,” he said, sharing some tidbits about what he’s doing. “I’m casting to isolated cover that’s deeper and offshore. I’m using my Humminbird 360, which a lot of guys down here don’t seem to have. It’s easier to see everything around me instead of just panning with my Humminbird MEGA Live.”

Drew Gill is looking pretty unstoppable of late.

Gill continues his hot streak

Fresh off a runner-up finish at the Tackle Warehouse Invitational on Lake Eufaula in Oklahoma, young Illinois pro Drew Gill is continuing to roll. He came into the day in fifth with 16-1 and added 19-5 to jump to third, which has him thrilled about fishing tomorrow.

“Everything went as good as it could have today,” he said. “I caught a quick limit this morning and that allowed me to go and look for some new water. I found a few new areas that I’m excited about.”

Gill disclosed that he’s fishing with light line and spinning tackle and that no matter the weather tomorrow, he should be able to fish the same way.

“I’m catching them the same way as last week on Eufaula,” he said. “I should be able to have another good day tomorrow doing that, but I’m hoping it’s a great day. The weather won’t affect what I’m doing but may affect how much I can run around. If it does get windy, I’ll have to commit to an area and hunker down.”

Scott Parsons has built a solid lead on the co-angler side of things.

Parsons takes Strike King co-angler lead

Scott Parsons of Rogers, Arkansas, is no stranger to the winner’s circle with MLF. He already has three wins, including the co-angler title at the 2021 Toyota Series Championship on Pickwick Lake, Alabama, and hopes to add one more tomorrow.

Bagging 11-1 yesterday and 16-1 today, he holds a lead of over three pounds with one day of fishing left. He credits pro Joe Hall’s areas today for his success.

“The places he brought us to fit my strengths,” he said. “We were able to slow down because the wind wasn’t howling today and you could drag the bait more. We went back and forth along the bank and could pick it apart.”

Parsons said he caught approximately 15 bass on the day, nine of them being keepers and all came with finesse tactics.

Top 10 pros

1. Jake Lawrence – 38 – 12 (10)              

2. Adam Bartusek – 36 – 09 (10)             

3. Drew Gill – 35 – 06 (10)           

4. Harbor Lovin – 33 – 02 (10) 

5. Ethan Fields – 32 – 13 (10)

6. Stephen Whitesell – 31 – 14 (10)      

7. Brad Jelinek – 31 – 09 (10)  

8. Dennis Berhorst – 31 – 00 (10)           

9. Drew Porto – 30 – 13 (10)     

10. Cole Floyd – 30 – 10 (10)    

Complete results