Featured Image Credit: Kayak Bass Fishing
Saturday, July 20, 2019, 61 anglers launched on from the banks along Kentucky and Barkley Lakes for the KBF Trail Event headquartered out of the Paris Tennessee Fairgrounds. Anthony Shingler of Clarksville, TN (Director for CAKFG) helped the tournament to run smoothly and got everyone headed home safely after awards with very little delay.
The boundaries were the same that anglers had seen during the previous KBF National Championships on the two bodies of water, so it was not unfamiliar to most kayakers. The big difference in this tournament; the legendary ledges of Kentucky Lake were not the productive spots that most had come to expect; the fish were swarming on bait in the backs of pockets for those who finished on the top of the leader board. 21 anglers didn’t record a fish, and 21 measured less than a five-fish limit; the top 19 produced limits, but only a few truly figured them out.
KBF Trail Kentucky Lake: Pre-Fishing
Pre-fishing for the event, a Virginia native and winner of the first Hobie BOS event of 2019 on Lake Chickamauga, Nathan Green, reported that he was new to the water and looked for fish deep. He, like most folks, didn’t find them there, so he headed into some shallow backwater hoping for the best; on tournament day, he, unfortunately, was below 19th place – the last place to measure a limit.
Jay Wallen used to be a bass boat tournament angler and first fished the lake in 2006. He says it is a very different lake. “Back then, you could look on almost any decent looking ledge and catch 30-40 bass and weed through the small ones.”
Josh Stewart also mentions changes to the reservoir. “The shallow creeks where I grew up used to be clear and blue all the way out into the mouths and into the bays, now, it has a green tint to it. Maybe from the carp, not sure.”
A local tournament the week before had also taught some in the crowd that the fish were not behaving as they normally do in the hot July sun. Docks didn’t produce, ledges were sporadic, and flats were loaded with Asian Carp. Early topwater bites were producing about as many Gar as bass, and they were far outsizing the targeted species. If you found the shad feeding on fry in shallow water, you had a chance.
KBF Trail Kentucky Lake: Josh Stewart Brings Home the Win
Josh Stewart, a native of Waverly, TN who now lives in Murfreesboro and is always a competitor (having finished 2nd in the National Championship two years ago on Kentucky Lake), was handing out lessons to those unfamiliar with the water. With a 99 inch limit, a full 5.25 inches ahead of the next competitor Jay Wallen, he dominated the event fishing waters that were literally in his backyard growing up.
Using a Chug Bug he found during a tournament at Lake Guntersville earlier this year, Josh was able to pull an early limit. When he added a 7-inch Yamamoto Senko to his lures for the day, he landed the big fish of the tournament, a fat 23-inch Kentucky Lake largemouth. There was a fish he landed on a jig, but he was targeting the shallow bays around the New Johnsonville area and the fish were chasing the bait, so he gave them baits to chase.
Josh is far from new to kayaking. He has been in one for many years after buying one to spend the summers on the water. After a while, he started thinking, “Hey, I might be able to win a tournament” so he signed up for a RiverBassin Tournament in 2015. He was not prepared for the tournaments and struggled to find bass.
“I didn’t even have a measuring board. I stopped by Caney Fork Outdoors to pick one up, then caught a bunch of hybrids.”
He fished his second event, a KBF open on Kentucky Lake in 2015 without much luck, but since then has grown to be a highly recognizable name on the leader boards. His success is not measured in one or two wins (he has many more), but in the fact that he is always one to watch on any body of water. His list of accomplishments continues to grow and he still remains very humble about his ability. He is already qualified for the Hobie TOC, the National Championship, the regional championship… and sponsors have taken notice; he is a member of the Jackson Kayak Team, the YakAttack team, and on the pro-staff for Hog Farmer Bait Company and All Pro Rods.
If you get a chance to talk with Josh about growing up in the area, do so. He is extremely passionate about sharing the stories of his grandmother teaching him how to fish in the creeks close by. He gives her much of the credit for his success and love of being on the water and now shares the water with his mom and uncle who are fishing some online events.
KBF Trail Kentucky Lake: Jay Wallen’s Second Place Finish
Jay Wallen was 5.25 inches behind Josh and 4.5 ahead of the next angler. Jay was fishing much farther north on Kentucky Lake, but the shallow water pattern was still the same. “I caught fish in water so shallow, they should have been laying on their sides!” He also found an early topwater bite, landing a solid limit (15 fish before 10 a.m.) tossing a Lobina Rico lure.
“I have caught a ton of fish on this lure. I have two I have used for years”.
Jay moved after 10 a.m. and upgraded (catching 5) in a patch of grass, breaking off on his first cast throwing a Senko. He threw back into the spot and “…never felt it bite, I just saw a stalk of grass shake and assumed it was a fish. I set the hook into a 19.75-inch bass.” Jay credited the two baits (and a D-Bomb) with his second-place finish.
The Pikeville, Kentucky native who just bought a house in Lawrenceburg, KY (where he plans to live with his soon to be bride Casey) spends his days assessing and tracking coal reserves in his home state, but his weekends on the kayak tournament trails. The 2016 KBF ANGLR of the year’s (Jay Wallen) TourneyX profile is a testament to his ability on the water. Like Josh, he is always a competitor with the ability to bring home a win.
It is interesting to learn that he only picked up a kayak to be able to fish with fellow Kentuckian, AJ McWhorter, on the New River. He bought a Jackson Kayak but thought “it was stupid to fight with a paddle” so he moved to an Outback. Once he made that move, he won enough to get a Hobie PA14 and hasn’t looked back.
Jay is a now a member of the Hobie Fishing Team and lists Picasso Lures, Cal Coast, Shimano and G-Loomis among his supporters. You can also get some very helpful and “juicy” tips from his YouTube Channel, TheJwallen.
KBF Trail Kentucky Lake: Rus Snyders Brings Home a Third Place Finish
Rus Snyders ended in the third-place position with 89.25 inches. Rus was also fishing in shallow water but had opted to fish north on Barkley Lake. He caught some on a big worm, but most came by throwing a black and blue swim jig toward the bank over cover, then swimming it out a bit and letting it drop into the cover. If he pitched the baits, the fish didn’t seem to respond. He did find some on a RivertoSea S-Waver swimbait after finding a giant shad tail sticking out of the mouth of a two-pound bass. As the day progressed, Rus Texas rigged a green pumpkin Z-Hog Junior and flipped it around cover to finish his day.
Rus was happy to find them in the clear water and shallow as he is not a fan of ledge fishing. He finds that he “is much better at working a bank pretty fast; tearing apart structure… (he has) more confidence in the shallow water.”
Rus moved to Tennessee from California seven years ago. He used to guide in Northern California most of the year; when he wasn’t, he was fishing bass boat tournaments but felt that he never clicked with the tournament crowd. It was after moving to Tennessee that he made the switch to kayak tournament fishing.
“I moved to Tennessee with a boat but kept seeing all these people in kayaks. I had no idea how many rivers there were within one and a half hours of where I live”.
And Rus is one of those guys you always know has a chance to win. Anyone who describes him and how he fishes uses the word “prepared”. During the National Championship, a fellow competitor told me that Rus “has a plan, then a Plan B… then C”. When I asked him how he prepares, he was willing to share.
“Kayak fishing has made me a better fisherman – before I would run all over the lake, find spots and hit the patterns; keep trying the same things. The kayak makes me find multiple options and types of patterns. Flats, wood, deep, and shallow to keep the options open. I look for areas with lots of options. If I find them fishing shallow during pre-fishing, I look for what else is close and fish different lures just to feel the area – learn the layout.” He is truly a student of the areas he chooses to fish.
If you need some power washing done in the Nashville area, or just want to talk fishing, reach out to Rus’s business Nashvillepowerwash.com. If you would rather just learn from a guy who is doing well on the tournament trail and learn from him about the local area, he also has a guide service; look for him at http://www.kickfishing.com. You can learn a bit more about Rus over at Hook1 where he is a team member and he also credits iRod as a sponsor.
Jimmy Mcclurken tied with Russ Snyders at 89.25 inches, but lost the tiebreaker to Rus who had the larger bass in his limit; leaving Jimmy in 4th place. Jimmy had posted 103.25 inches the week before in the local CAKFG event, beating out Josh Stewart 1.5 inches (who posted 101.75 inches). Mcclurken has been having quite a bit of local success, so you might want to keep an eye on this guy too.
KBF Trail Kentucky Lake: Overall Results
KBF Trail Kentucky Lake: Trail Results
KBF Trail Kentucky Lake: Pro Results
This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert
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