In the homestretch of the 2008 season, the Bassmaster Elite Series makes its eighth stop in Gilbertsville, Ky., for the Bluegrass Brawl presented by DieHard Platinum Marine Batteries®, June 12-15 on Kentucky Lake.
The Bassmaster Elite Series made its last stop at Kentucky Lake in June 2006, when the top seven pros caught more than 60 pounds through four days. Winner Morizo Shimizu of Japan weighed in 66 pounds, 9 ounces.
Straddling the Kentucky-Tennessee border, Kentucky Lake is 185 miles in length, with 160,000 surface acres and 2,380 miles of shoreline. Barkley, a navigable canal, adds another 80,000 surface acres.
Elite pro Mark Menendez of Paducah, Ky., thinks that because Kentucky Lake has had a healthy spawn in the past year, the numbers of keeper-size bass will be up for the Bluegrass Brawl.
"I think weights will be up a little bit," Menendez said. "When Morizo won, a 4-pound average was winning most of the local tournaments. Now it seems to be closer to a 5-pound average, and that's closer to the glory days of Kentucky Lake back in the late 1980s.
"I'm very optimistic as to what we're going to find as far as the numbers of fish. As far as the patterns, it's going to be an A to Z deal. There'll be some guys who do extremely well shallow, but I think the deeper fishing will be what most of the guys will be doing."
Menendez said he expects most anglers to concentrate on 12 to 20 feet of water, using mostly worms and jigs. He added that he guesses 17 pounds a day, 68 pounds overall, will win the tournament.
"You give me 17 a day and I'll stay on the bank," he said. "I think you will see multiple 20-pound bags come in, but I think it's going to be the consistency factor that'll win the tournament. Somebody who stays on the 16- to 18-pound a day bite will be tough to beat."
Along with angling for the first-place prize of $100,000, the Elite pros will start the nail-biter phase in the Trail to the Trophy with just four tournaments to go. Heading into this week's Southern Challenge at Wheeler Lake out of Decatur, Ala., Mike McClelland of Bella Vista, Ark., leads the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year points race.
His top threat, in second place and well within contention for the $250,000 top prize, is Todd Faircloth of Jasper, Texas, just 10 points behind. And no one can count out 2007 TTBAOY winner Skeet Reese of Auburn, Calif., presently third in the standings, three-time AOY winner Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., in fourth, and Dean Rojas of Lake Havasu, Ariz., in fifth.
Daily weigh-ins and launches at the Bluegrass Brawl will take place at Kentucky Dam Marina, 1300 Administration Drive. Launches Thursday-Sunday begin at 9 a.m. ET and weigh-ins begin at 6 p.m. ET.
Activities at the Bluegrass Brawl include a musical performance Saturday and Sunday afternoon by country artists Nashville Songwriters. There will be a Berkley Beginner fishing class at 4:30 p.m. and a "Boat Performance with Skeeter" class daily at 5 p.m. both days, as well as Skeeter boat demo rides from 1-3 p.m.
On Saturday, fans can talk to the Elite pros during "Ask the Experts" at Bassmaster University, set for 5:30 p.m. at the weigh-in site.
Meanwhile, the event marks the first foray into BASS event sponsorship for DieHard Platinum Marine Batteries®.
"Consumers have continued to rate DieHard Automotive batteries as America's most preferred battery for over 40 years," said George Kurkowski, brand manager for DieHard. "Tests have proven the DieHard Platinum to have 40% more Reserve Capacity than comparable spiral-wound AGM batteries. That fact alone translates to more quality time on the water for fishermen and why we're excited to be in Kentucky with the Bassmaster Elite Series to promote this terrific battery."
Sunday's activities include the live taping at 5:30 p.m. ET of Hooked Up, hosted by ESPN Outdoors personalities Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona. The show, which airs on Bassmaster.com, will preview the final weigh-in. Live, streaming video of the daily weigh-ins begins at 6 p.m. ET on Bassmaster.com.
The local sponsor of the Bluegrass Brawl is the Kentucky Sports Authority.
For further information on DieHard Batteries, please see www.diehardbatteries.com
Sponsors of the Bassmaster Elite Series include Toyota Tundra, Advance Auto Parts, Berkley, Lowrance, Mercury, Purolator, Skeeter, Yamaha, Evan Williams Bourbon, Longhorn, OPTIMA Batteries, Triton Boats, Costa Del Mar, MotorGuide and Ramada Worldwide.