A first day that started slow ended with a rush for kayak angler Brad Case at the Hobie Bass Open Catch Photo Release tournament held on Kentucky Lake out of Kentucky Dam Village June 4. Case fished the shallows with topwater baits and his 59.25 inches leads the field of 103 adult anglers by 2 full inches going into the final day.
When fishing ended at 3 pm, Case seemed to vault into the lead on the iAngler Tournament computer scoring system. He swore it wasn't gamesmanship - when he loaded up for the drive to the check-in his truck wouldn't start, so he decided to claim his final, decisive 20.50-inch kicker at tournament headquarters.
Case said day-long rains played to his advantage. He fished chuggers, never straying beyond six feet deep.
"It'll be tough to keep up the momentum” noted Case. “If it's a sunny day, the bass will move into thicker cover. I may have to switch to a creature bait.”
Ron Champion sits in second place with 57.25 inches backstopped by a 19.75-inch fish. He targeted deeper structure, but didn't find the schooling ledge fish typical of Kentucky Lake at this time of the year. Instead he had to hunt them down one at a time.
"The bass are all scattered, with some groups of two of three. It was a grind," Champion said.
Jay Wallen is in third place with 56.00 inches, a familiar place. He finished in third last year. Wallen started off slow with smaller fish, but surged back into the top five with the big bass of the day, at 22 inches even.
At stake are two qualifying spots in the Hobie Fishing World Championship, as well as some $3,500 in first place cash. The tournament is expected to pay out through 9th place.
Dyver OBryan leads the youth division. His 50.75-inch 3-fish tally would have placed him in the top twenty in the adult division.
Day two will be a battle. Less than three inches separates fourth place angler Matt Smith (54 inches) from 10th place angler Teddy Wozny (51.5 inches), and there are many more who could play a role in the final standings with hot days. The weather is expected to improve for day two. Anglers targeting ledge fish are hopeful stronger currents will help sort the fish out.
On the whole, fishing was good if a grind for many. Mike Christopher of iAngler Tournament said the field measured 254 bass - more than a fish every two minutes for the field. "I thought it went great. We started logging fish right at 5:30 am, at safe navigable light," he said.
Competition resumed at 5:30 am on Sunday, concluding at 3 pm. Updates are provided live on the Hobie Bass Open iAngler Tournament leaderboard and Ron Champion was at the top of the leaderboard at the time this article was posted.