PARIS, Tenn. — Ledges, ledges and more ledges should be on tap for the Kentucky Lake BASSFest event during the first week of June.
Fish are headed deep, and on the Tennessee River that just means great opportunities to put together big-time stringers. When I picked my Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing team, I had to mix it up between some young crankers and methodical veterans who know what to expect when banging heads on the ledges.
I am certainly pleased with my bounce-back effort after the horrendous event that was the California Delta. Havasu treated me well and I even picked some risky anglers. I hope this event is just another building block on my way back to the top where I once was! Here are my picks for the ledge-fest that should be Kentucky Lake.
Conservative pick: Keith Combs
Man, this might be the toughest Bucket A I have ever seen for an Elite Series event. When you have Kevin VanDam added into the list along with the top AOY anglers, it is a scary thing. Aaron Martens isn’t leading Angler of the Year, but he is on a tremendous roll with a second at the Delta and a win on Havasu. Keith Combs has proved to be one of the best offshore fishermen on the Elites.
Dark Horse pick: Jason Christie
Whether he is fishing on the ledges or skipping a jig around shallow cover, Jason Christie is dangerous. I could see him being in the mix at the end of the tournament. With how BASSFest went last year, with half of the Top 12 fishing shallow and the other half fishing deep, it’ll be interesting how it plays out this year on Kentucky Lake.
Keith Combs is my pick here because of the increased versatility he has shown in each and every tournament. He seems to always find his fish and do it his way. He utilizes his electronics to the fullest extent.
Conservative pick: Bobby Lane
Bobby Lane has won on Kentucky Lake in 2009 after outlasting KVD. He is fishing well after starting the season roughly on the Sabine. He has a 28th at Guntersville, sixth at the Sacramento River and a 35th at Lake Havasu. He has some momentum on his side and could do well once again.
Dark Horse pick: Davy Hite
Davy Hite has plenty of experience on the Tennessee River and his last win actually came on Pickwick in 2011. I certainly expect Hite to find his groove on the Kentucky Lake ledges. In 2009 when Bobby Lane won, Hite finished in 13th. He could quite possibly get his first Top 12 of the year during this event. Also, watch out for Jordan Lee, who has fished numerous college events on Kentucky Lake in the past few years.
I’m picking Davy Hite because of his ability to mix up slow presentations with a swimbait and crankbait. His ownership percentage is appealing to me as I hardly go with the top guy in each bucket.
Conservative pick: Mark Menendez
Menendez has proved to himself and the rest of the Elite Series that he can still fish at this level and find success. He has made three checks out of four attempts this season and now he is heading home in a sense. Menendez has a calm about himself where he won’t speed himself up and get in a hurry. Slow and methodical can get it done in this BASSFest event. Also, if Menendez doesn’t make the cut and fishes on Barkley on that third day, he will probably make it to Day 4 because he knows Barkley more than almost anyone in the field.
Dark Horse pick: Bradley Roy
Roy had a successful Western Swing and is also headed back close to home. If you are looking for a local pick who won’t have a high percentage of players taking advantage of his local knowledge, then I recommend Bradley Roy. He is having a pretty good year and is sitting just above middle of the pack.
Give me Menendez just for the fact of the extra chance at Barkley if he needs it. Menendez can focus all his efforts on Kentucky Lake because he certainly knows Barkley like the back of his hand.
Conservative pick: Derek Remitz
I could see so many anglers doing well in this bucket, but for me it is a toss-up. Picking among Randall Tharp, Brett Hite, Takahiro Omori and others is a tough one, but I’m not quite sure. So to be conservative, I think Derek Remitz could do well. After all, he is from Guntersville, which at times fishes like Kentucky Lake. Every Elite angler knows how fish set up on ledges, but some see it more often and really KNOW how they set up on ledges. I could see Remitz “schooling” a big part of the field.
Dark Horse pick: Matt Lee
I’m thinking Matt Lee on this one for the same reasons I considered his brother in Bucket B. Both of these anglers have experience on these Tennessee River lakes and know where to go and how to catch them. It helps that Kentucky Lake was an often-scheduled event for college fishing when the Lee brothers competed there.
I’m fully expecting Matt to bounce back from the Western Swing and thrive on a lake that should set up well for him and his skills. It also helps that he can get tuned into ledge fishing during the off-limits time because he lives so close to Guntersville.
Conservative pick: Matt Reed
Big bass plus deep fishing and big baits add up to a lake where a Texas angler could do well. My thoughts are that Matt Reed could be the Texan to do so. The last three times the Elites have fished Kentucky Lake, Reed came away with a payday. It might be the time of the year or just something about Paris, but either way, I think Reed will be a safe bet for me.
Dark Horse pick: Fletcher Shryock
Shryock has put together three finishes that have been just outside of a payday this year. I think he could find something that isn’t directly related to ledge fishing and not be as pressured as other anglers. It could get tight out on the ledges, and finding something alone could be important at this event.
Slow and steady should work well for Matt Reed this week. I’ll take him on my team.