(Editor’s note: Veteran bass pro Dave Lefebre has agreed to take time to share his insights into each FLW Tour event of the 2012 season. After every event, Lefebre will give his thoughts on tournament strategy, winning techniques and other behind-the-scenes stories/information that is compelling to our readers. The following blog represents his sixth installment of the season. Lefebre ultimately finished the Kentucky/Barkley lakes event in first place with a four-day total of 77 pounds, 3 ounces and took home $125,000 in winnings).
What a great week down in Kentucky, I think I have a new favorite lake! It’s been quite a while since I last won an FLW Tour event (2004) and more than two years since my last professional win on Lake Conroe in Texas. Needless to say I am extremely happy and grateful to get another shot, especially after letting the last one slip away on the Potomac River in Washington DC. I was devastated after the Potomac, but the lessons I learned there helped me pull this one out in the end. I can honestly say that day four on Kentucky Lake was by far the most stressful and difficult day I’ve ever had during a tournament. But like I said after the Potomac, when things are going wrong and we don’t understand, God knows what he’s doing and the glory is all His.
My family and I have always looked forward to Kentucky – everything is so convenient, the local people are the nicest anywhere, the food rocks and the facilities are top notch. We weighed in at Murray State on the final two days and I can’t say enough about that place. It was just a great week all around and one I will never forget.
This event, like most of the others so far this season, was a little different than normal. The fish were definitely out there on the ledges, but with the lower water some of the bass got out there unusually deep. I caught some in 30 to 32 feet in practice and heard stories of some guys catching them on the bottom in 50 feet or more … that’s crazy. Like Jacob Powroznik said on stage, if you’re fishing offshore without Lowrance HD GPS units and Structure Scan you were behind the eight ball. I found several deep spots with the Structure Scan and felt that I could actually identify bass from other types of fish by the end of the practice period. I weighed in about eight fish on a jig from those places I found deep, including two 5-pounders on day three. The rest came on a swimbait in water less than 7 feet deep.
After having a good first day of practice out deep, my practice partner, Danny Jones, and I went in to fish the bank for a while and were amazed at what we discovered. We began catching fish immediately, and some of them were pretty good ones, better than those we caught probing the depths all day long. I knew it was going to be an interesting tournament for sure and that a variety of techniques could come into play. I even found a school of smallmouth that was bigger than the ones I’ve been catching at home … I was excited!
I think most of the top-10 pros were fishing deeper, with the exception of Chris Baumgardner and Jay Yelas, who were both fishing shallower on Lake Barkley. Jay amazes me, mainly because he’s done it two years in a row in the same way I used to fish there before I eliminated Barkley. It’s a tougher way to fish because the conditions are always changing and it’s usually a grind fishing there. But he keeps managing to pull it off, which to me is extremely impressive because I could never do it.
The techniques and bait selections were consistent with this type of fishery at this time of the season. It was obviously a post-spawn deal and the best baits out there on the ledges were big worms, crankbaits and big heavy jigs. The umbrella rigs were responsible for a bunch of fish too, as expected, but I’m pleased to say I didn’t succumb to the pressure. I will say however, it would have really worked in my starting spot and I knew it. Thankfully, my strong beliefs on this issue didn’t cost me this week, although it did play with my mind a little on the last day.
My main weapons were a 5 ½-inch Storm Pro Paddle Tail Swimbait, a ¾- and 1-ounce Tabu OW Series jig with a Yamamoto double-tail grub, and a Rapala DT 6 and DT 10 crankbait. Although I only weighed two fish on the DT’s during the week, they were monumental tools en route to my winning the event because I used them to cover vast amounts of water in practice and eventually find the winning spots. Having a strong first day of practice out deep allowed me two full days to focus in a specific area of the lake and spend a lot more time looking for subtle areas that hopefully no one else would find. I used my trolling motor, flasher, and those DT Rapalas to search huge flat areas, basically just good old fashion fishing. There were many unproductive hours, but the few places I found each played a role during the four days, as I weighed fish from all of them.
To win one of these events a lot of things have to come together because it’s not just about catching fish all of the time. My Frosted Flakes Ranger Z521 performed flawlessly as usual and my new Mercury Optimax engine hasn’t missed a beat all season. The rest of my equipment played a large part as well, especially my twin Power-Poles (who would have ever thought I would need them on Kentucky Lake in June! I just hope they figure out a way to get those things down to 40 feet in the future).
It’s hard to believe the FLW Tour Major season is almost over already. We are down to one remaining event, which is coming up in a couple of weeks and I couldn’t be more eager to get there. The last stop is at Lake Champlain, located on the New York and Vermont border, and it is a favorite of most of the pros. It’s big and it’s full of big fish. It will be an exciting finish to the year and will be an absolute slug-fest for sure. See you there!
To read more about Dave's life on the road, check out On Tour With Dave and Anne, sponsored by Chevy. Throughout the 2012 FLW Tour season, Dave and his wife, Anne will be keeping a detailed blog of their experiences while traveling the country in their Chevy Trucks.