PARIS, Tenn. — Ledge fishing, crowded conditions and big schools of bass are all things that typify Kentucky Lake as the Elite Series visits the renowned fishery for the third consecutive year. Spring flooding has changed some of the subtleties though, making the lake just different enough to challenge the 93 competitors this week.
"The high water was a good thing, when you come to a lake over and over," Rick Clunn said. "You hope that it's a big enough change to make you seek out something a little bit different this time around . The fish are out on the ledges, but they don't seem to be as far out as last year. Some are still moving out of the creeks."
The heavy spring rains may have had something to do with that. When the Elite competitors were out on Pickwick earlier in the year, Kentucky Lake was actually closed due to high water.
"Due to the flooding, the grass is gone," Clunn said. "But the fish adapt to the flooding a lot better than humans do. In this area of the lake though, they were born and lived around the grass. When you take that away, they are not as secure as they were."
Last year saw monster weights for Kentucky Lake, as eventual winner Bobby Lane brought in a tournament-best 29-pound, 14-ounce stringer on Day One. The fishing was better-than-normal for a lake known for offshore ledge fishing. This time around, Clunn found the practice fishing a bit tougher.
"Last year in practice, on the first day I had two fish on one lure seven times," Clunn said. "It hasn't happened at all for me since I've been here this time."
Local Mark Menendez agreed with Clunn, finding the fish not quite as grouped up as they were last year.
"I think the flood has the timetables backed up about three weeks," Menendez said. "There are fish shallow, deep and in between. The bites I'm getting are in places I've caught fish in the past, but not this time of year."
Despite being from nearby Paducah, the best finish Menendez has posted on Kentucky Lake since the Elite Series began visiting the lake was 44th last year. He may have figured something out then, but Menendez doesn't think the weights will be nearly the same.
"Bobby really got on them good to win the tournament last year," Menendez said. "It's still going to take over 80 pounds to win, but there won't be as many top-heavy weights. I don't think it will take 17 a day to make the first cut like last year. Maybe 31 to 32 pounds should do it."
Terry Scroggins predicted closer to 14 or 15 pounds a day to make the 47-cut, which is closer to the Kentucky Lake of tournaments past.
"To me, this is the same ol' Kentucky Lake," Scroggins said. "It's very pressured here — they had a big tournament here last weekend. The first few times we came here, you could pretty much fish where you wanted. Now you have to wait your turn before getting to a spot and that makes it hard."
Scroggins best finish on Kentucky Lake was sixth back in 2008 and fortunately for him, he believes the flood helped return the lake to what he's used to.
"The water is back to normal levels and the fish I found are where they have been in past years," Scroggins said. "I think the lake is going to fish like it has in past tournaments."
Anglers launch from Paris Landing State Park, with the Toyota take-off at 7 a.m. ET and the weigh-in starting at 4:30 a.m. ET on ESPN3.