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June 2012
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FLW Tour winner thrives on single creek channel


Skip Johnson, the Goodsells, Mich., bass angler who won the recent FLW Tour event on Kentucky Lake out of Tennessee's Paris Landing State Park, said he claimed the $100,000 victory by not moving.

That's relatively speaking, of course. Johnson was virtually nailed down in comparison to many competitors in the pro bass shoot-out. That is, he fished a single area for all four days of competition, while many others frequently motored from area to area, often miles between fishing locations.

Johnson, indeed, fished several spots along an inundated creek channel as it snaked its way to a juncture with the old Tennessee River channel well south of Paris Landing. But his chosen spots weren't scattered all over creation. They were high-odds contact points along the ledges of the single creek that he had marked with the global positioning system of his depth-finder/sonar.

Moving by trolling motor from spot to spot among more than a dozen waypoints along the stretch of creek, Johnson scratched together and regularly upgraded four five-bass limits over the four days. He brought in limits of 22-0, 22-14, 19-12 (his "bad" day) and 24-0. Together they totaled a winning 88 pounds, 10 ounces.

Johnson weighed in his best five fish each day, of course, but he caught many more fish of "keeper" and better status that didn't make the grade. During the final day alone, Johnson picked over his creek channel haunts to catch more than 75 bass, culling through them to end up with five weighing 24 pounds even.

Most of the places the winner caught fish were rocky creek channel edges of 10-12 feet deep where the underwater bank broke away down to about 15 feet.

Johnson caught many of his winning fish on a jig and trailer, but during the final round the lure that cemented his victory with a 24-pound limit was a Texas-rigged plastic worm, an eight-inch Western Plastics wiggler in crawdad color.

Johnson averaged slightly more than 4.4 pounds in the 20 bass that carried him to the win. And Kentucky Lake proved generous to all the upper finishers in the pro field. Twenty-bass catches (limits for each of four days) averaging more than 4 pounds per fish went to the top nine places.

Trailing Johnson closely were Jason Lambert of Pickwick Dam, Tenn., runner-up with 87 pounds, 8 ounces, and Jim Moynagh of Carver, Minn., third with 86-13. Randy Haynes of Counce, Tenn., was fourth with 85-11 â “ and that came about a month after Haynes had won the earlier Rayovac FLW Series Central Series tournament on Kentucky Lake with 75-5 in three days, averaging more than 5 pounds per fish.

n Public safety officials are reminding boaters to navigate with care this holiday weekend, which is typically the busiest period for recreational mariners all year long.

Waterborne enforcement officers â “ those of the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and the U.S. Coast Guard in particular â “ are out in force for the long Fourth of July weekend to keep an eye out for infracting operators and the potential of accidents that come with heavy traffic on the lakes and rivers.

With July 4 falling on Friday, officials anticipated a concentration of water recreation during the three-day, Friday-Sunday holiday stretch. The holiday weekend and the popularity of on-the-water play then is a major part of why July was the leading month for boating accidents in 2013, according to U.S. Coast Guard statistics.

Officers patrolling the waters this weekend will have their eyes peeled for signs of risky boat operations, particularly those that might point to intoxication at the helm. Indeed, enforcers are quick to prosecute imbibing skippers for BUI, boating under the influence, to further the cause of safety on the lakes and rivers.

Boating officers also will be checking those among the fun-time flotillas for required safety equipment aboard boats. Special attention is paid to the requirement to have a life jacket aboard for each boat passenger â “ and for children under 12 to be wearing a life jacket when a boat is underway.

n With July in progress, hunters now can apply for quota deer hunts in the Land Between the Lakes this fall. Permits for firearms hunts can be sought by signing in for a computer lottery at www.lbl.org (under "See and do") or by telephone at 270-924-2065.

Applications must be made by July 31. The fee to apply is $5 online or $7 by phone.

In the Kentucky part of the LBL, a quota youth hunt will be Oct. 25-26 and a regular quota hunt will be Nov. 23. In the Tennessee portion of the federal area, a youth hunt will be Oct. 18-19 and regular hunts are set for Nov. 14-15 and Nov. 22-23.

Steve Vantreese is a freelance outdoors writer. E-mail outdoors news to outdoors@paducahsun.com or phone 270-575-8650.


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