Morehead lands biggest sack of the tournament, claims EverStart pro title at his old Kentucky home
GILBERTSVILLE, Ky. – Dan Morehead says that it is extremely gratifying to win a bass-fishing tournament on his home lake. He would know. After weighing in a tournament-high catch of 21 pounds, 4 ounces Saturday, he won the Pro Division title at the EverStart Series Central Division contest at Kentucky and Barkley lakes. This marks the fifth time in his career that the Paducah, Ky., native has won an FLW Outdoors event on his home waters.
“This means so much,” Morehead told the capacity crowd gathered at the Benton, Ky., Wal-Mart for the final weigh-in. “It means as much as the FLW win.”
He's referring to the Wal-Mart FLW Tour victory he captured here in 1998 (the other three Kentucky Lake wins were BFL tournaments). Morehead capitalized on the knowledge – and acclaim – he gained from that FLW tournament four years ago to find the edge here this week. The 34-year-old collected $15,000 and a new Ranger boat for this week's victory.
Morehead didn't have time to practice much coming into this event, so in the opening round he went back to the same locations on the lower end of Lake Barkley that won it for him at the FLW tournament. The spots yielded good stringers, giving him the lead on Wednesday and advancing him past the opening round.
In the semifinals Friday, Morehead's reputation helped him grab the third spot heading into the finals. As he was fishing a cove on Barkley another boat came up on his spot. The angler, whom Morehead recognized but didn't know by name, saw that he was encroaching on Morehead's spot, apologized and left the area. It was an unnecessary but extremely generous gesture – and one that was not lost on the hometown hero.
“That really makes you feel good,” he said.
Saturday the water on the lakes rose about a foot, and that had anglers scrambling to find the bass that would bite. Relying on his homegrown knowledge of the fishery, Morehead went to the upper end of Barkley where he knew the fish would be less pressured. He also changed tactics. He caught the majority of his bass in earlier rounds using a top-water bait, but decided to switch to flipping a jig, a ½-ounce brown-and-black Stone jig, into bushes.
“I was kind of excited when the sun came out,” he said. “It helped me by concentrating the fish in the bushes. … I was running memories. If I hadn't caught a big fish (in a spot) in the past, I wouldn't go there.”
The tactical shift paid off. He caught four good keeper bass by 10:30 in the morning and looked solid. Later, with about 17 pounds of fish already in his livewell, he ran into another creek and caught his biggest bass of the day, a largemouth that he estimated weighed over 6 pounds. He was back to the check-in point at Moors Resort by 2 o'clock.
Though his 21-pound stringer didn't show it, the fishing was tougher for Morehead as well as the other competitors Saturday. “Today you had to be precise,” he said. “You couldn't just throw the jig into the bushes. You had to pitch it into the heart of the bushes and hop it two or three times before they would hit.”
Scheide shies away from the crowd for second
Following Morehead was Ray Scheide of Cookson, Okla., who collected $10,000 for second place. Scheide, the day-two leader, tried to target isolated areas throughout the week.
He caught five bass weighing 13 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday using both a spinner bait and a jig, and wasn't sure where that would put him in the final standings.
“Last night I was feeling really confident and I thought I could win, but that rising water really killed everybody's bite,” he said. “I was really just praying that I'd get a top-five (finish).”
Rest of the top five
Jeremiah Kindy, who led day three, finished third and collected $9,000 with four bass weighing 12 pounds, 12 ounces. The 24-year-old rookie from Benton, Ark., flipped a green-pumpkin brush hog most of the week and was happy with the results. It was his second top-five finish of the year on the EverStart Series.
“I've been so fortunate this week,” he said.
Rounding out the top five in the Pro Division were two Tennessee anglers, both also former FLW Tour champions. Craig Powers of Rockwood claimed fourth place ($8,000) with three solid bass weighing 12 pounds and Wesley Strader of Spring City finished fifth ($7,500) with five bass weighing 11-1.
“When I caught those two good fish this morning, I thought I had a shot to win,” said Powers. “But it just didn't work out.”
“That's fishing, isn't it?” Strader said. “It's a puzzle, and you've got to figure the puzzle out.”
There's no puzzle about what's next on the EverStart Series. The next tournament is an Eastern Division tournament – the last one of the year in that division – to be held June 5-8 at Guntersville Lake near Guntersville, Ala. The next and final Central Division event is a June 12-15 affair at the Red River in Shreveport, La.