2014 KBF State Championship in Review
What an exciting and fun filled event! A record single day weight and an AOY race that went right down to the wire with only one point separating 1st and 2nd places in both the Angler and Co-Angler divisions.
The festivities started out with a fabulous Banquet and Awards dinner. Many, many thanks to the great people in Taylor County and Campbellsville KY. A special thanks to Judge Executive Eddie Rogers for taking time out of his busy schedule to attend and speak at the banquet. (Hope no one had to use the “Get out of jail free card” he offered)
But the biggest call out goes to Elisha Nelson, Executive Director of the Taylor County Tourist Commission. I contacted Elisha in January to let her know that we were coming to Campbellsville for the KBF State Championship and she did the rest. A couple of more emails to let her know the exact date, time and number of people attending then I sat back and let her go to work. She set up the banquet hall and supplied the buffet banquet meal. And what a meal it was. I have been to 18 or 20 of these banquets and I can’t remember having more or better food. It was all home cooking from the good people at Druthers there in town and was superb. If you are going through Campbellsville make sure you stop in, have dinner and thank them for the meal. I have never had so many fisherman come up to me after a banquet with high praises over a meal. This left a lasting impression on the fisherman that will pay off for Campbellsville in the future.
Again, Thank You Elisha for a fantastic job!!!
And now for the fishing details. I spent a lot of time on the water pre-fishing for this event and the bite was scattered and inconsistent. High muddy water early in the week then the Corps pulling the bottom out of it trying to get back to summer pool made for moving fish and changing patterns. I found deep fish then the water came up and they disappeared. I found fish in the back of a creek but they were 1 to 2 lbs which I did not think would be enough to make the State Team. After the water came up the fish did move shallow and I had a top water/blade bite that I thought would hold for the two day event. It did but just barely.
Most of the guys at the Banquet commented about how tough the bite was and the overall feeling was that it wouldn’t take but 12 to 13 lbs to make the State Team on the boater side. Green River Lake has a history of producing some really good bags of fish and this event was a record setter. I drew Dillon Rager as my Co-Angler for the first day who is the 2014 High School State Champion. Dillon had elected to take the KBF up on our offer to fish in the adult State Championship. Now the pressure was on me to produce some fish for him at the adult level. Here is how it played out.
The first morning started out with a prayer and playing of the National Anthem thanks to Donnie Keeton and his PA system. My first stop was in a series of flat pockets close to the channel. I had 3 keepers on top water, went to my second spot and had a 3.5 on top and then flipped up another 1.5 on plastic. Went to my third spot and saw Jerry Smith. He did not have a fish at it was 11:00. Dillon was fishless as well so now I had to go to my backup plan to find him some fish. We took off for the back of the creek where I had caught fish early in the week. He did not have a top water bait like I was throwing so I rigged one up for him and I threw a spinnerbait which left the door open for him. When I sat down in the creek I checked the water temp and my heart sank. 61.5 degrees. It was 68 when I caught them early in the week. Oh well, we are there so we decided to fish see what would happen.
We started though the laying logs where I had most of my bites and nothing. I looked back at Dillon and said, “Hey, we jinxed ourselves.” The dip net was still draped over the butt seat. I ran back and laid it on the deck and told him, “Now catch one”. Two casts later his first 14″ fish bit. A few minutes later he had a 2.5, then another 15 minutes later and he had a 3. I had 2 real small ones that needed to go so I picked up my top water and culled with a 2 lber then he caught another keeper. And that’s the way we ended the day. We went down and fished some of my deep spots but didn’t have a bite. I ended the first day sitting in 5th place with 10.74 and Dillon was leading the Co-Angler side with 8.86. I told him to keep the top water bait and if his day 2 Angler was not on anything then I would leave the creek for him. About half way through the second day I was wondering if that decision was going to come back and haunt me. The Corps was dropping the water a foot per day so the shallow water bite was going to be challenging.
At the weigh-in the first day it was about as I expected with 2 exceptions. David Taylor came in with a bag that tipped the scales at 21.36 lbs. The largest single day weight that I can recall in State Championship history. Jerry Smith was bumping fish and with 12lb plus in 2nd we thought David was going to run away with it. I took over the bump table and then Jerry brought his bag up. Man, what a shock! 23.30 lbs! At 11:00 when I left him he had caught one 8″ fish! He said he just kept moving and came up on a bank at 12:30 that was loaded with big fish, all on top water. By 2:30 he was culling 3 lbers. And it was dead in the middle of the two spots where I had caught my fish that morning.
The second day event was a completely different day. On my first pass though my cuts with top water I came up empty. Did manage one 14″ fish flipping a tree with plastic. Went to my second spot with top water with same results. Switched to a spinnerbait and caught two decent fish. Finally late in the day I went to a spotted bass wall and caught a keeper on a shaky head. I ended up with 4 that weighed 6.63 and slid into 7th place but still enough to make the State Team. Jerry Smith had only one fish that weighed 1.02 and David Taylor also caught one fish that weighed 1.12 lbs. But both maintained their 1st and 2nd place positions after two days with Jerry Smith being crowned the 2014 KBF State Champion. On the Co-Angler side Michael Tester won the event on the back of a 6.36lb bruiser while Dillon Rager caught 3.34 and finished in second place. Congrats to Dillon for making the State Team on his first try. He comes in at the ripe old age of 16!!!
The Angler of Year race was a wild one. The KBF Board changed the points program this year and added each day of the State Championship with points as if they were two more tournaments. So we took your points from your top 4 events of the year then gave 300 to first place on day 1 and 300 for first place for day 2 going down the list of fisherman in their respective order of finish. Going into the event I was tied with Brian Hickey with 1191 points and we estimated we were about 3 or 4 points from the top. After day 1 Brian was leading and was ahead of me by 2 points so I really didn’t think I had much of a chance going up against him. At the day two weigh-in the finals had me in 7th place and Brian in 8th so we both assumed that I picked up one point. That would still have Brian in the lead by one. What we didn’t take into account is that you accrue points based upon your finish of that day and not where you end up on the State Team. There were several fisherman who finished between Brain and myself on the second day so it really played havoc on Tom Whittington to figure it out.
When the final tally came in I had won the 2014 KBF Angler of the Year with 1777 points. David Sowers and Rusty Willhoite were tied for second with 1776 points. It doesn’t get much closer than that. This is my 3rd AOY title and was completely unexpected.
On the Co-Angler side it was much the same. Jerry Turner won with 1782 points and Patrick Herman was second with 1781. This change in points format led to a lot of excitement in the final two days and it seems that everyone really likes the program.
Thanks again to everyone who participated in the 2014 KBF Events, the KBF Directors and Officers.
Congratulations to the 2015 KBF State Team. I look forward to fishing with you guys on Lake Norman in NC in June.