GILBERTSVILLE, Ky. — Late Wednesday afternoon, Curt McGuire was a little frustrated. The pro of Lawrenceburg, Tenn., typically does well fishing Kentucky Lake events. In fact, he’s finished second in two American Fishing Series events here (formerly called the Stren Series) since 2005. He’d had good practice sessions and felt confident prior to both of those events. But this week was different. By 2:30 Wednesday, with the tournament slated to begin shortly after daylight Thursday morning, he’d yet to find the fish he believed he needed to be competitive.
“I knew the water would be falling, and I finally stopped in an area and found some fish that were just beginning to move out (offshore),” McGuire said. “I caught two 3-pounders in there in practice and left. That’s where I did most of my damage this event. It was a spot I’d never fished before, and although the water was clearing in other areas, it was still dirty in there.”
With the near record high lake levels, the spot McGuire found would normally only have inches of water on it at summer pool—but there was plenty on it for this tournament. “Any type of gravel or other hard-bottom area was good to me during this tournament, and the biggest fish seemed to be right up on top,” he said. “I’d make a cast in there with a big crankbait and bring it crashing through. If they were in there, they’d get it. Fourteen of the 15 fish I’ve weighed this week were caught on a BD7 Fat Free Shad, mostly in various chartreuse hues.” McGuire’s limit today, which weighed 23 pounds, 4 ounces, gave him a three-day total of 70 pounds, 8 ounces, good for the win and a check for $25,000.
Haynes good with second
Randy Haynes of Counce, Tenn., nipped at McGuire’s heels all week. Haynes ultimately finished second with a three-total of 15 bass weighing 59 pounds, 13 ounces. He earned $8,500 for his efforts. Haynes, always a formidable competitor on Pickwick Lake, threw crankbaits to submerged gravel bars this week. “When the flood gates are open on the Tennessee River, the fishing can be unbelievable,” he said. “I stopped at my last spot and caught a 5-pounder and a 4-pounder on the same cast. Almost all my fish this week have been on a Strike King 6XD.”
Terry takes third
Mike Terry of Troy, Tenn., another well-known Kentucky Lake pro, finished third with a three-day total of 57-14, good for $6,000. “This was actually the best day I’ve had all week,” Terry said. “I have been catching them on a Series 5 Strike King crankbait, but I switched over to a DT-10 today because my co-angler was catching them so well on that yesterday. He loaned me the exact bait he’d been using, and I threw it all day.”
Hopkins, Vaughn round out top five
John Hopkins of Hendersonville, Tenn., finished in fourth with 52 pounds, good for $5,000. Brien Vaughn of Kinmundy, Ill., rounded out the top five pros with a three-day weight of 48 pounds, 4 ounces. Vaughn earned $4,500.
Shawn Murphy of Nicholasville, Ky. (46 pounds, 10 ounces, $4,000)
Bill Schroeder of Paducah, Ky. (46 pounds, 5 ounces, $3,500)
Tony Wilson of Barbourville, Ky. (46 pounds, 5 ounces, $3,000)
Ramie Colson Jr. of Cadiz, Ky. (45 pounds, 6 ounces, $2,500)
Roger D. Harp of Huntsville, Ark. (40 pounds, 1 ounce, $2,000)
Keller wins Co-angler Division
James Keller of Bettendorf, Iowa, led both day one and day two in the Co-angler Division. Fishing with McGuire this morning was apparently a bit of good luck, too — Keller is the fourth co-angler in a row to win an event fishing from the back of McGuire’s boat.
“Curt was a great partner,” Keller said. “I’ve thrown a lot of different crankbaits to catch my fish this week, but my best has been a chartreuse Strike King Sexy Shad 6XD fished on 12-pound Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon line.”
Keller’s limit today weighed 14 pounds, 8 ounces, giving him a three-day total of 51 pounds, 14 ounces and a winner’s check worth $10,000.
Andrew Luxon of Richmond, Ky., a former FLW College Fishing competitor, finished second with a three-day weight of 50 pounds, 9 ounces, good for $4,000. “Every fish I’ve caught over the last three days was either on a Cumberland Pro Lures casting or football-head jig,” Luxon said. “I’ve caught so many fish that ate that jig so well, I had to keep a pair of pliers in my back pocket at all times for unhooking them.”
Rounding out the top five co-anglers were Brian Brecka of Alma, Wis., (45 pounds, 15 ounces, $2,000); Steve Keller Jr. of Felicity, Ohio (42 pounds, $1,750); and Jim Hippensteel of Rochester, Ind. (39 pounds, 6 ounces, $1,500).
Rest of the best, Co-angler Division
Ben Due of Mauston, Wis. (38 pounds, 11 ounces, $1,250)
Steve Gregg of Florissant, Mo. (35 pounds, 15 ounces, $1,000)
Ben Lawwell of Murfreesboro, Tenn. (35 pounds, 4 ounces, $900)
Brendan P. Murphy of Cape Girardeau, Mo. (30 pounds, $800)
Roger Hahn of Fairfield, Ohio (29 pounds, 3 ounces, $700)