LUCAS, Ky. -- Following a 2 ½-hour delay on Day One, Federation Nation anglers from seven states finally set out onto the flooded waters of Barren River Lake to compete in the Southern Divisional presented by Yamaha and Skeeter.
Patchy fog greeted fishermen for the 6 a.m. scheduled takeoff at the dock of Barren River State Park Resort. It appeared that it would burn off within an hour or so, but a thicker layer moved in just as the sun seemed about to take control. So competitors zipped up on the cool, damp morning, and nestled down to wait some more
And, as they did, the waters kept rising. More than an inch of rain fell all cross Kentucky Monday and early Tuesday. By mid-day on Tuesday, the level was more than three feet past summer pool at 555.1. On Wednesday morning, it was three feet higher still, pushing the reservoir well past its normal 10,000 acres.
Tournament Director Jon Stewart told waiting anglers that it would rise another two or three feet. "The Corps has closed the gates," he said. "The water probably is not going to go down for two or three days."
As Stewart spoke, B.A.S.S. staff and volunteers moved the weigh-in trailer, tubs, and assorted equipment to higher ground, just ahead of the rising water.
The Army Corps of Engineers elected to keep more water in Barren River Lake because it is a tributary of the Green, which still was under flood warning on Wednesday.
Realizing that fishing would be tough, competitors ventured out cautiously into the brown waters, both because of lingering fog and abundant debris washing into the lake from upstream. Water temperature still was an acceptable 60 degrees, and the day's high was expected to be in the low 70s under blue skies, with light winds out of the north. Such conditions would make the fishing pleasant, if not the catching.
The bass are there, though, if anglers can find them, either along the flooded shorelines or holding on deep structure made even deeper by the heavy rains.
"We have extremely good numbers of largemouth 15 inches and above," said David Wyffels, fisheries biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.
Anglers will have two days of sunny skies and mild temperatures to pursue them before more storms are expected to move in Thursday night and Friday.