By: Jason Lambert
The 2016 season started out really strong for me when I won the Costa Series event at Lake Okeechobee. Once the FLW Tour season rolled around, I was off to a pretty rocky start. I didn’t cash a check until the fourth tournament of the year at Pickwick, though it still wasn’t the finish I’d envisioned. Nevertheless, that was the confidence boost I needed rolling into Kentucky Lake, where I’ve had some really solid finishes in the past. I knew I needed to do well at Kentucky to salvage the season.
After countless hours spent idling and searching for schools of fish behind my Garmin units in practice, I was finally able to capture the first FLW Tour win of my career. Here’s some insight into what I was doing last week and how I won.
Ledge Bite Prevailed
Last week at Kentucky Lake, I was strictly fishing offshore post-spawn ledges. With all of the cool nights we’ve had this spring, the full-on transition just hadn’t happened yet and it was still happening while we were there.
I had 70-75 miles of water that I was fishing. On the first two days, the lake was so crowded, I just worked my way south and stopped and looked and fished places that people weren’t on. I think that was the key – having enough areas that I wouldn’t have to share my spots with a bunch of other anglers.
In practice, I located more than 50 schools of fish, thanks to my Garmin GPSMAP 7616xsv and 7612xsv that I run at the console. I was finding mostly small schools with 6-10 fish in them. The one school that I really crushed on Sunday afternoon was the one I started at on the first day of the tournament. It had a dozen fish in it on Day 1 and I actually caught two of the fish I weighed in that day off that spot. By Sunday, there were 60 or 70 fish in that same school and they were ready to eat!
The other thing that was going on was that the fish I caught were all relating to the bottom. I wasn’t keying in on brush or fishing any specific target. The fish weren’t very active and just stay put. Most of the time I could catch 1-3 fish before I’d have to move on to the next school I had marked on my Garmin units.
There wasn’t really one school that was better than another until the last hour of the tournament. Believe it or not, that was the only one I was able to really fire up and get to cooperate.
Electronics Were Key
Great electronics not just really important when fishing offshore … if you don’t have them, you just can’t do it. Basically for 13 hours a day, I cranked up the Eric Church and idled around looking for schools of fish. Out of 39 hours over 3 days, I probably fished for two hours. I did a lot of scanning.
This year, I’ve been running the GPSMAP 7616xsv in the dash and 7612xsv on the side. I run a half screen on the 7616xsv as mapping and the other half is split with traditional 2D and ClearVü. On the 7612xsv, I run SideVü on the entire screen.
Accurate contour lines are imperative when fishing a ledge lake. Boat control while you’re idling and being able to stay on and adjacent to the drop – you just can’t do it without proper mapping. The MaxDef lakes that Garmin has gone out and surveyed are extremely accurate and just spot on. Garmin LakeVü mapping is hands-down better than anything else out there.
Basically all of the fish I caught this week were deeper than 20 feet. At Kentucky Lake, you want to look for intersection points – a bend in a creek or river, or a high spot like a shell mound. The Garmin LakeVü HD Ultra mapping has everything you want in a map and more.
The first two days I caught them on a V&M J-Mag Worm and drug it around some of those schools that were less active. I also threw a big Castaic Heavy Metal Spoon, but since we don’t have a co-angler on the last two days, we have to net our own fish. So the last two hours on Friday, I switched to a 7-inch Castaic Jerky-J with a 1-oz scrounger head. It’s a single hook and the likelihood of the fish throwing the hook is far less than that of a spoon. The fish actually ate the Jerky-J really well Friday afternoon, and fortunately I got a fast start with it Saturday morning and caught a couple real good ones. That gave me the confidence to stick with that and throw it for the rest of the tournament. I was basically a one-rod man!
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