2017 TBF Semi Finals in Review by Steven Taylor
I was really excited when I heard that the Semi Finals for 2017 between TN and KY would be out of Paris Landing on KY Lake. I love that area and had caught them really well on KY Lake in the fall of 2016. Man was it ever different.
I had a Renegade Classic out of Kuttawa the first week of October so that was going to be great prefishing for the Semi Finals. I spent 7 days on the water including the tournament days for the Classic and it really sucked. I tried to catch them on top water, which is how I caught them last year, and could not make it happen. I refused to go below Paris and that was my down fall. We performed really poorly and I did not have much hope for the Semi Final.
I went down for another three days prior to the cut off and found a few fish on top and a few on a jig on a creek channel ledge. Neither pattern was very strong and I went home with even less confidence than after the Renegade Classic. At this point I had spent 10 days on KY Lake and still did not have a reliable pattern.
Back down to the lake the afternoon prior to the first official practice day and was rooming up with Greg Hoskinson, David Taylor and Bill Lowther. I took my hooks off of most of my top water baits to start the first practice day and went south as far as Harmon. First top water bank I had 3 fish pull my bait down with no hooks and caught just a keeper on the one bait I didn’t take the hooks off of. Caught a few on a jig but nothing to hang my hat on.
Day two of practice and I caught an 18” fish that was so skinny he wouldn’t weigh 2lb on top water, same bait that I caught the keeper on the day before down south but both areas were calm and we weren’t going to have that during the tournament. Went to my confident spot that will always produce a couple of keepers and had a good keeper on a ¾ oz jig, shook two off and then caught another decent one on an Arig. Spent another 2 hours on drops in the same creek with no bites. I had caught a 5 lber on a Shower Blow the previous weekend on a single stump so that was where I was going to start on Saturday morning. Then go to the drop and play it by ear from there.
Saturday morning was cloudy and breezy, perfect for top water. Except I couldn’t buy a bite on top. By 8:30 I was on the drop with my big jig and by 9:00 I had 3 in the boat. By 11:30 I had a limit so we decided to leave and try some top water. Nothing. Then tried a main river channel drop that is another confidence spot, hooked a huge fish on the jig, got him to the boat and………………drum. Back to my drop and culled with the largest bass of the day. 2lb 3 oz. After weigh-in I was in 3rd with 9lb 12 oz. Better than a stick in the eye but not the weight I thought I would need. Bill Lowther was leading KY with 3 that weighed 11lbs 10 oz so he was catching the right size. I knew I needed a big bite the next day to pull this out.
Sunday the wind was whipping pretty good but I had decided to go South to my top water spot and give it 30 minutes. When I arrived, and turned my front unit on I had the green screen of death. Great, now I get to fish all day without a front depth finder or chart, and I plan on fishing a drop most of the day. I caught a short fish and a 5lber on my top water spot then headed to my drop. About half way there I noticed a really bad vibration in the boat. Felt like I had thrown an ear off my prop. When I got there, I discovered I had jarred a cable off of one of my Talon’s in the 4’ waves and it was extended 10’ down so that was my vibration. Oh well, I’ll just take it off before I head back to the weigh in.
The previous day I had put two way points on my Lowrance with boat symbols to show where my boat needed to be sitting to fish the best part of the drop. With no front unit I would just have to set my boat on the mark and stay there.
I sat down on my spot, aligned my boat on the marker off of the point and set the spot lock on my Minnkota Ultrex. If you guys haven’t been in a boat with one of these you don’t know what you are missing. For guys like me who enjoy structure fishing they are invaluable. I started fishing that spot at 9:00 and left at 2:35 to head back to the weigh in. I caught a keeper on the ¾ oz jig and a few shorts then the bite died. I switched up to a magnum trick worm on a 3/8 oz shaky head, 17lb Seagar InvisX and started catching them right away. I ended up with only one keeper out of about 20 fish but did break the hook off on another one but you know how that goes, you always think the one that got away is the big one.
Back to the weigh-in and I had 8lb 11oz with those the 3 fish. With the way Bill Lowther was getting bit in practice and the first day on top water I didn’t think I had a chance until Bill told me he only had a small keeper. The next two guys had blanked so the day turned out to be tougher that I thought.
I ended up in 1st place on the Angler side for KY and was shocked that 18lb 7oz would win in October. But it did.
Can’t wait to get to the Nationals again and see if I can move on to the All American.
Thanks everyone for all the well wishes and to Bill, David and Hosko for a great time sharing a cabin with me. Thanks also to all my Sponsors, iXL, Ranger Boats, Renegade Marine, Danali Rods and a special thanks to the KBF, the TBF and the Tennessee Bass Federation for hosting the event and making all of this possible.