The story of Kentucky Lake

The real battle at Kentucky Lake was between brothers-in-law Edwin Evers and Terry Butcher, who claimed second and third place, respectively.

Kevin VanDam

We could just as easily call this one the VanDam Triumph. He held his first-place slot all four days. The real battle was between brothers-in-law Edwin Evers and Terry Butcher, who steadily climbed in the standings to claim second and third place, respectively. Big bass honors went to Kelly Jordon for his giant catch on the second day.

Here's how they tell the story:

Kevin VanDam
(1st place — 92 pounds, 5 ounces)

My win can be summed up by saying that Kentucky Lake is my kind of bass fishing. I love to fish offshore structure — ledges and drops — with crankbaits. Basically, the whole lake is set up for that. And, I think I'm pretty good at figuring out what the fish are going to do from one day to the next. That helps a lot.

Almost all of my bass were caught on Strike King crankbaits. I alternated with a Pro-Model Series 6XD in chartreuse shad and a Silent Stalker Series 6XD in the same color. When one wasn't working I switched to the other. It was back and forth all four days.

Both baits were modified with 1/0 Mustad KVD Elite Triple Grip Treble Hooks. That helped me hook the bigger bass without adversely affecting the action or running depth of the lures. Those things are definitely the real deal.

I threw both of them on my 7-foot, 10-inch Quantum Tour Edition KVD Cranking Rod with a Quantum Tour Edition KVD Reel (5.3:1 gear ratio) and 12-pound-test Bass Pro Shops XPS Fluorocarbon line for both baits. I needed long casts and the ability to get my bait down to the bottom. That's the perfect combination for that kind of bass fishing.

All that was important, but the thing that really made a difference was my Humminbird electronics with the Side Imaging feature. It was critical to my success.

I set up both units so that I could see about 70 feet right and left, as well as the bottom under the boat. I was able to identify small differences in the ledges that were holding the bass. Of course, I was also able to see the bass and determine exactly where they were.

When I found them in practice I moved my cursor to the side and marked the exact spot where they were located. From there, it was a matter of casting right into the bass during the tournament. And, since I knew they were there, all I really had to do was figure out how to make them bite by changing lures and working a stop-and-go retrieve.

Edwin Evers
(2nd place — 85 pounds, 12 ounces)

Fifteen of my keepers were caught on a citrus Bomber BD7 (Fat Free Shad) and another three on the same bait in Foxy Shad the final day. I also had one on a spoon and another on a swimbait.

I threw the crankbait on a 7-foot, 6-inch Bass Pro Shops Crankin' Stick with a Bass Pro Shops Qualifier Reel (5.2:1 gear ratio) spooled with 12- or 14-pound-test Bass Pro Shops XPS Fluorocarbon line. I used the lighter line when I needed more running depth out of my lure.

My best spot was a creek channel swing that was near the main river channel, but I also had a lot of success in the 12- to 15-foot range on main channel ledges. I fished my crankbaits with an erratic retrieve. No pattern seemed to be the best pattern.

The thing that really made a big difference for me last week was that I never made a cast if I didn't see bass on my electronics. I think a lot of guys make the mistake of fishing a spot just because it looks good. It's not good unless there are bass on it, and the only way to be sure of that is to look with your electronics.

Terry Butcher
(3rd place — 80 pounds, 4 ounces)

My best lure was a No. 7 Fat Free Shad (BD7) in Foxy Shad. I fished it with a 7-foot, 6-inch American Eagle Rod (medium action) with an Ardent XS1000 Reel (5:1 gear ratio) and 12-pound-test Silver Thread fluorocarbon line.

My two best spots were ledges I found a couple of years ago here. One was about 8 feet deep on top, the other about 13 feet. Both of them dropped off into 25 feet of water. All I really did was expand on them as the tournament progressed. I explored everything that was around them and marked it carefully with my electronics. You'd be surprised at what you find if you take the time to look.

Occasionally, when I couldn't get a bite on the crankbait, I'd drag a brown and purple Booyah Pigskin Jig (football head) across the ledge and over the drop. That got me a few extra bites which made a big difference in the end.

Kelly Jordon
(Big bass — 10 pounds, 1 ounce)

What a big bass! She was a postspawn female with the biggest head I've ever seen. There's no telling what she would have weighed before the spawn — maybe 13 pounds. She was a real brute.

I caught her on a Texas rigged 10-inch Lake Fork Tackle worm, redbug in color, with a 3/8-ounce Lake Fork Tackle Tungsten Bullet Weight and a 5/0 Owner 3X Offset Shank Worm Hook. My rod was a 7-foot, 3-inch, medium-heavy action Duckett Micro Magic model; my reel was an Abu Garcia Revo (5.4:1 gear ratio) spooled with 20-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon line.

My spot was a ledge, 8 feet deep, that dropped off into deep water, It was a true big bass haunt, although I'm not sure why. I caught several big bass from it during the tournament including a couple of 5-pounders, a couple of 6-pounders and one 7-pounder — not counting my 10-1.