In his preview of the Bluegrass Brawl, Kevin Wirth told us that Kentucky Lake was in great shape for summer ledge fishing. He pointed out that the temperature was right, the color was right and the lake level was right. He was right, too.
Most of the Elite Series anglers targeted the ledges, and almost all were successful to some degree. Of the 107 anglers who launched on Thursday morning, 99 returned to the dock with limits. That number was 97 out of 107 for Friday; 48 of 50 on Saturday; and 12 of 12 for Sunday.
He also said this would be a largemouth tournament with only an occasional smallie brought to the scales. He was right about that, too. Most of the bass weighed in were green, only a handful showed brown.
And, unfortunately, he was also right about his own situation. He made the cut to the Top 50 but ultimately finished a disappointing 36th with a total three-day weight of 46 pounds, 1 ounce. His concern about the size of his fish was well-founded. They weren't big enough.
"I was able to catch fish. I knew the spots and places and baits. I just couldn't get the quality bass that I had to have to make the Top 12 cut and have a chance to win," he lamented after the event.
"And, I made a tactical error by not giving myself enough time on one spot towards the end of the third day. The bigger fish were there. I just didn't give myself enough time to catch them."
The story he told us about having 12 rods on the deck of his boat during Tuesday's practice and catching bass on 11 of them was confirmed by the experience of another angler, winner Kevin VanDam. His most productive bait was a deep diving crankbait but KVD also reported catching keeper bass on spoons, jigs, spinnerbaits and big worms.
VanDam was Wirth's first pick to win the event.
"I know picking VanDam to win is beginning to be a habit with some of us, but this tournament was different. Like I said last Tuesday, this is a Tennessee River impoundment. It's made for his style of fast fishing with hard baits and his run and gun approach to the sport.
"I said last week he's death on water like this and that if he started running the ledges it could be lights out for the rest of us. He did, and it was."
Wirth's weight predictions were solid, if a bit conservative. He said it would take 26 pounds to fish on Saturday. In fact, the last angler to qualify for the Top 50 was James Niggemeyer with 30 pounds, 6 ounces. (You had to drop all the way down to Fred Roumbanis in 72nd place to reach the 26-pound mark.)
He also predicted that the Top 12 weight would be 50 pounds. In fact, Terry Scroggins claimed the 12th slot with 52 pounds, 1 ounce. (Fifty pounds flat would have added another five anglers to the final day's launch.)
His winning weight prediction was "at least 80 pounds." He was right on the money with that one. VanDam claimed victory with 84 pounds, 13 ounces. Tim Horton placed second with 83 pounds, 12 ounces.
And Wirth believed the big bass of the tournament would weigh 7 1/2 pounds. Rick Clunn caught her on Friday. She weighed 7 pounds, 3 ounces.
Kevin Wirth knows Kentucky Lake and it showed. As a soothsayer he rates a grade of B.