By RB Bass angler Steve Wilson
I’v always heard of the world class small mouth at Dale Hollow in eastern Kentucky. The world record small mouth caught by David Hayes in 1955 of 11lb15 oz had my hopes up when I found out that the Kentucky Bass Nation had a Qualifier there, the road to the classic. Knowing this i signed up for the tournament and started my homework on the lake. The tournament was taking place on Saturday 3/23/2019 out of Wolf River Resort, so I decided to head over there on Thursday morning. With the lake being about 4 hours away from my house I left at 230am and hit the road. Pulling up to, what I thought was the launch ramp, which I found out around daylight was actually the flooded parking lot. I started getting the boat ready and another angler pulled up next to me. I asked if he wanted help launching and if he would help me. Once on the boat I started adjusting my Humminbird for the high water. Having the Humminbird Lakemaster card helps with raising and lowering water levels. Once done I starting idling out already trying to put the puzzle together. Water color, water level, water temp, weather conditions, time of year, what the shoreline is made of, just to name a few. With the water temp being at 51 and raining I thought of the fish already moving into creeks to secondary points but with the high muddy water they normally pass those up and go straight to the backs of the creeks, but just to be sure I head to a main lake point at sewell creek and start fishing my way back. Slowly Working my way from the bank out to 60’ of water with spinnerbaits, square bills, medium diving crank baits, deep diving crank baits, jigs, spider grubs, tubes and a drop shot All the way back of the creek without a bite. Once in the back I start flipping and pitching a Xzone 4” Pro Series Adrenaline Bug with a Dobyns 734 and 20# Vicious Pro Fluorocarbon to every bush and tree from 0-5 foot with no result. I head to the next 2 creeks, fox And sulphur creek with no result. In the next creek I got hung on a underwater branch and ripped the bait off and a 6lbr boiled on my bait ripping the tail off. I thought to myself, maybe I’m fishing too slow. So I start ripping the bait off of the bottom next to the brush and immediately caught a small 1lb largemouth. A few pitches later I caught another 1lbr and then another one. Knowing these small fish wont make the 15” size limit I needed to find bigger fish, so I start fishing back out of the creek but a lot faster. About a 3rd of the way out of the creek I skipped the bait under a overhanging tree up to the bank, let it sink and then rip it off of the bottom and get hammered by another 6lb largemouth. I put it back in the water and decide to head to another area called Lawson Hollow. I stop about a 3rd of the way back and start skipping under the trees and then catch another 3 1/2lb largemouth. After putting it back I decide to call it a day. Going out Friday morning with what I found out the day before I head to some creeks in the Rocky Branch area. First thing in the morning I start about half way back and work my way back. Within a few minutes I catch a nice 4lb largemouth working the bait by ripping it off of the bottom. I had a solid pattern going but wanted to find another bait to us as a back up. I start covering water by throwing a chatter bait on a Dobyns DC 736CB Glass rod with 15# Vicious Pro Fluorocarbon with no result. After about an hour I notice the skirt was falling apart so I rip it off and just used the trailer, a XZone Pro Series Swammer and within 5 casts I get slack knocked in my line, so I reel down and set the hook, the rod loads up and the fish go’s straight under the boat, peels some drag and comes off. That was a big fish. I leave and go to the next creek and stick with the chatter bait and within a few casts I stick another 4lbr. Thinkin’ I found 2 solid patterns I call it a day. After the meeting I let my non boater know what’s going on, get my tackle ready, some dinner and hit the bed. Up bright and early my partner puts me in the water and then we wait. I’m excited and nervous, like every tournament, but this one is different. I haven’t had that much confidence going into a tournament in a long time. We wait for the 53 boats to get in the water. I notice its colder the day before but I stick with the 2 baits. With only 2 rods on the deck its blast off. Being the 3rd boat out we head to Sewell Creek and start off with the chatter bait. After feeling fish short biting the bait I pinch off a 1/2” and keep fishing. Mixing it up with the chatter bait and Adrenaline bug trying to hit every bush and lay down with no luck. We fly over to a creek I haven’t fished and start a 3rd of the way back. Throwing the chatter bait i get slack knocked into my line and reel down and set the hook, the rod loads up and a short fight later I swing the 3 1/2lb largemouth into the boat. We fish for another hour with no luck so we head to the next creek down and only catch one 2lb largemouth. We start creek hopping, catching only one fish per creek arm. I had a 5 limit of about 13lbs and my non boater only had 2 fish so we ran to my last spot of the day. With time ticking and me watching the clock on my Helix 12, I almost get the rod ripped out of my hands. After the fight my partner nets my biggest of the day that ended up going 4.83 on the chatter bait. We head to weigh in. With all largemouth I end up weighing 15.32 and my partner had almost 6lbs for 2. Big fish of the tournament was a little over 6lbs and it took just over 16lbs to make the top 6 to make the championship. 1st place had almost 20lbs and took home a little over $1000. I did get to see some beautiful smallmouth weighed in but never caught one. I will definitely go back and fish Dale Hollow for a chance to catch a monster smallmouth.
I’m very impressed with the way the tournament was ran and how smooth it went. Nick Coleman and Suzi Weber and the Kentucky Bass Nation crew did a great job and I’m looking foreword to fishing more of there tournaments.
Until next time….
STICK EM !!!