Billy Hurt of Spring Creek, Tenn., caught the biggest bass at the Bassmaster Central Open on Kentucky Lake during his first day of competition. He knew exactly where he wanted to go and what he wanted to do when he got there.
"During practice, everyone was having trouble sorting through short fish in the grass to find keepers. I couldn't locate any decent fish shallow, back in the creeks or coves. I knew if I was going to do anything in the tournament I had to find something better. I headed towards open water, along the main river channel, to look around.
"I stumbled on a ridge in about 8 feet of stained water that dropped to 16 feet on both sides with a big, thick brushpile on top of it," he explains. "It was holding good keepers — between 3 and 5 pounds — so I went there immediately on the first day. I was hoping for a couple of respectable bass to get my tournament started off right.
"I bounced a Strike King Series 5 crankbait — chartreuse with a blue back — through the brush. I like that Strike King bait because you can crank it down into the wood without getting it hung. And it has a wide, heavy wobble that works well for this type of fishing.
"The key was to make repeated casts to the brush from every possible direction and to bang the bait into the wood as hard as possible. You really had to pick the cover apart if you wanted to catch anything. Subtle didn't work; you had to wake them up or make them mad before they would bite.
"My big one struck after at least five casts to an area no bigger than your kitchen table. I was getting ready to leave when I decided to make one last cast before we moved. I knew she was a good one when I set the hook, but I didn't realize how good until I got her to the boat."
Hurt threw his crankbait on a 7 1/2-foot G. Loomis medium-heavy cranking rod, a Shimano Chronarch 50Mg reel (6.2:1 gear ratio) and 12-pound-test P-line Fluorocarbon line.