Schroeder starts Kentucky season with victory
ATHENS, Ala. – Billy Schroeder used an Alabama rig to win the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series, operated by American Bass Anglers, Kentucky Division 15 season opener, held March 10, 2012, on Kentucky Lake.
Despite cold rain muddying parts of the sprawling reservoir, Schroeder found enough fish to win the Boater Division. Running out of Moors Resort Marina near Gilbertsville, the Paducah, Ky., angler caught five bass weighing 22.89 pounds for a 4.58-pound average. He upped his average and anchored his bag with a 6.64-pounder that took tournament lunker honors to earn more than $3,000. He caught about 15 keepers.
“I was throwing an Alabama rig with swimbaits on it,” Schroeder said. “I used 1/8-ounce heads. I was fishing in about eight feet of water. The big one was the third bass of the day. It hit in about 10 feet of water. I caught about a 5.5-pounder 10 minutes later. I fished about 15 different places. Despite the rain earlier in the week, the main lake was still relatively clear. Whenever the gates are open, I’m going to key on current.”
In second for the 82 boaters, Chris Blackwell of Clarksville, Tenn., brought in a five-bass tournament limit weighing 19.70 pounds. He fished single swimbaits, not on an Alabama rig.
“I found some fish staging to spawn earlier in the week,” Blackwell confided. “They were all big females. I ran south about 40 miles. I had two places and went back and forth all day. I caught these fish on 5-inch swimbaits with some white on them.”
Jackie Pogue of Louisville, Ky., landed five keeper bass going 18.66 pounds for third place. Craig Cowan of Chester, Ill., followed in fourth with five bass and 17.75 pounds. John Morvich of Grantsburg, Ill., rounded out the top five boaters with a five-bass limit going 17.50 pounds.
In the Co-Angler Division, Jerry Wittmer of Louisville, Ky., took the top honors. Tallying his first win in two years of BWS competition, he landed three bass weighing 18.67 pounds for an impressive back-of-the-boat average of 6.22 pounds. Wittmer capped his catch with a 6.41-pound bucketmouth that won the division big bass title to take home more than $1,700.
“I fished in about eight to 10 feet of water with an Alabama rig,” Wittmer said. “It’s the first time I’d ever thrown it. I made it myself. I just slow-reeled it and caught fish all through the day. I caught the biggest one early in the morning and the last one five minutes before we headed back. We fished up in the bays looking for staging fish. I caught 12 keepers.”
Jayme Grundy of Greenville, Ky., also brought in a three-bass division limit for 15.84 pounds. He stayed on Kentucky Lake rather than heading to Lake Barkley. He also fished an Alabama rig, also called an umbrella rig.
“We caught some fish on a Rat-L-Trap, but every fish I weighed in came on an umbrella rig,” Grundy revealed. “I only caught about eight keepers, but had quality bites. We caught some on secondary points and some on the main lake. Finding clearer water was the key.”
In third, Gayle Carlaw of Pleasant View, Tenn., showed the guys how to do it. She landed three keeper bass going 12.98 pounds with a 5.99-pound kicker.
“The conditions were a lot tougher than I thought,” Carlaw lamented. “The fish were out farther than I would have thought. We were catching them on points with jigs and 1/2-ounce orange lipless crankbaits. I was bumping the bottom with the crankbait in six to 10 feet of water to make it look like a crawfish. We caught fish early, but the bite slowed when the sun came up.”
Close behind, Kenneth Tyson of Murray, Ky., landed in fourth place with three bass at 12.74 pounds. Jeffrey Hartman Jr. of Paducah, Ky., brought in a three-bass limit for 12.26 pounds and fifth place among the co-anglers.
For more information on this tournament, call Randy Sullivan at (256) 230-5633 or ABA at (888) 203-6222. On line, see www.americanbassanglers.com.
-- John N. Felsher
About American Bass Anglers: The Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series provides weekend anglers a professionally operated competitive tour with a path the world championship of bass fishing the Bassmaster Classic. American Bass Anglers commitment is to provide low cost, close to home tournaments for the weekend angler and at the same time offer each competitor an upward path for individual angler progression. For more information about American Bass Anglers and the American Fishing Tour, The Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series or the American Couples Series, visit www.americanbassanglers.com.