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FLW Tour - Kentucky Lake Wrap-Up

Posted by todd on June 14, 2012

We just finished up an incredible week at Kentucky with a 7th place finish, along with my friend and travel partner, Terrance Smith, taking 2nd on the co-angler side.  He and I are now both in position to qualify for the Forrest Wood Cup with a good final event at Lake Champlain in a few weeks.

Fall Creek-20120529-00255My week began with a major scare as I'd been bitten by an insect of some kind that caused most of my upper body extreme soreness and some loss of feeling in my nerves.  Once my antibiotic kicked in during practice, I began to gain strength each day - but I also began experiencing extreme side effects from exposure to the sun.  As the tournament began, my fingertips and nails were extremely sun burnt, to the point that I couldn't put a firm grip on my reel without experiencing pain.  As the week progressed, I got stronger each day and have now pretty much recovered completely - a blessing from God.

Day 1, I was blessed with two big bites to start my day on my first stop with a jig and worm, and I then ran to New Johnsonville to fish grass with a spinnerbait.  I was able to finish my limit quickly and start culling up by 9am.  I started back north around noon with a solid bag and stopped on a main river ledge where I got 1 bite - a big one, a 6-pound largemouth on my signature series River Rat Tackle Rat Tail worm.  From there, I knew I was going to be in the Top 10, so I started back a bit early to be safe.  I ended the day leading the tournament and went through an amazing 24 hours experiencing the joy and pressure of leading an FLW Tour event with interviews, photos, media, and fans.  Most of my close family and friends came in throughout the week,  and to have them there was simply amazing, something I'll always remember.

IMG-20120525-00252Day 2 I was forced to make a decision on whether to make the long run south to fish grass and gamble, or to stay close and catch a decent bag to make the Top 20.  Knowing I had to make a Top 20 here to get in position points-wise to make the Cup, I chose to stay north and try to catch 13-15 pounds to make the cut.  My day was solid with over 20 keepers on the day, but I never got the big bites I had on Day 1.  As the weigh-in concluded, I squeaked into the cut in 18th place - but my goal was accomplished!  That allowed me to relax on Day 3 and swing for the fence a bit.

On Day 3, I explored an area that I had only been visiting early in the morning and figured out what exactly was there.  I caught a solid 16-pound bag and knew it was going to be close to making the Top 10.  I ended up sneaking in by 1 ounce.  It was meant to be.

Day 4 was an experience that I'll never forget - my first Top 10 appearance at the Tour level.  No co-angler, just a camera man.  Something I've dreamed about for many years had now became a reality.  I showed up to the Kentucky Dam Marina early that morning to see the Red Dirt Baits wrapped vehicle, with Tony Goff and Carl Waddington stepping out.  They had driven all night to come watch me take-off, as had my mom, aunt, and grandmother earlier in the week.  My wife, dad, brother, Terrance, and step-mom took care of me all week long as they always do - and I have to say it felt humbling to deliver and let them enjoy the experience by my side.  My in-laws also made the trip down and several other friends.  A group of them jumped in a boat and actually followed me for the first half of the final day, cheering me on and encouraging me.  I knew a solid day would move me up a few spots, which meant thousands of dollars and ever-important points to get me closer to the Cup.  I had a great day, and was able to work through about 15-20 keepers and cull up to 17 pounds - landing me in 7th place after the weigh-in concluded.

Murray-20120609-00263

Every single fish I weighed in this week was on a River Rat Tackle jig and worm, a Castaic swimbait, and a Red Dirt spinnerbait.  It feels great to actually fish with my sponsors baits, knowing that they're truly the best on the market.  Some pros say they catch fish on their sponsors' baits, but they don't.  My co-anglers will all tell you that I do, and it's a great feeling.  You can find these at www.riverrattackle.com, www.reddirtbaits.com, and www.castaicswimbait.com.  If you're not using these baits, I promise you're missing out.   Here's a quick re-cap on my set-ups and essential lures for the week that led to my Top 10 finish:

  • Worm Gear - 7' MH B&R Outlaw rod, 7:1 Bass Pro Pro Qualifier reel, River Rat Tackle Rat Tail Worm and Ledge Monster Worm in plum, blue fleck, green pumpkin, and watermelon depending on water clarity and sun/clouds, rigged on a 3/4 oz. River Rat Tackle Magnum Shaky Head.
  • Jig Gear - 7'11" MH Elite rod, 7:1 Bass Pro Pro Qualifier reel, 15# Bass Pro fluorocarbon, 3/4 oz. River Rat Tackle football jig in dark green pumpkin, black/blue, and Guntersville Special depending on water clarity and sun/clouds.
  • Spinnerbait Gear - 7' MH B&R Outlaw rod, 7:1 Bass Pro Pro Qualifier reel, 20# Bass Pro fluorocarbon, 1/2 and 3/4 oz. Red Dirt double willow and quad spinnerbaits in white and white/chartreuse.
  • Swimbait Gear - 7'11" MH Elite Rod, 7:1 Bass Pro Pro Qualifier reel, Bass Pro 15# flurocarbon, 1/2 oz. Jighead, Castaic Jerky J Swimbait in Green Shad, Blue Shad, and Bluegill.

I moved up to 44th in the points, just a few points outside of the cut-off for the Cup, which is ideal.  We have one event left in a few weeks at Lake Champlain, where I'll be looking to close the deal on my rookie season with a 4th time in the money and qualifying for the Forrest Wood Cup in August at Lake Lanier.  There is no quit in this guy, and I'm already preparing to make that happen.  I had went through a 2-month period where I struggled and missed the check-line in 3 straight events.  But I'm back.  Until next time, thanks for all of the support, encouragement, and prayers this week.  God Bless.