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BFL Regional Barren River

Started by Team houston, October 07, 2017, 12:29:44 PM

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Team houston

Any co anglers looking for a place to stay or someone to practice with, contact me. One of the guys sharing our house on the lake has some health issues in his family and might not make it. If he does, or not, we still have room for you, and a practice partner if you want to  come early.

Team houston

I met with my travel and practice partner Randy Ramsey on Fri morning at his house. We made the drive down to Cave city Ky where Randy had booked a hotel for the night. We were not allowed on the water till Sat. The lake was about 40 min away. We had time to kill that evening so we went on a cave tour at Onyx cave. Not a bad little tour for $10. Some BBQ for dinner and an early night for a long practice day tomorrow. Sat we hit the water and as usual at these Oct regionals the bite was VERY tough. Legal fish for this tourney would vary. Spots only needed to be 12 inches. You were allowed to keep one slot fish LM or SM between 12 and 15 inches. All the rest had to be 15 inches. We did not know about the slot fish in practice. We were told at the pre tourney meeting. So the number of keepers would have been a few more. The first day fishing we only managed 7 fish 2 were keepers. Fish were caught on shakey heads and jigs on bluff walls and tapering pockets. After practice we found the house we were renting on the lake. We would be sharing it with Heath Wagner and his father in law Leonard. Practice day 2 tomorrow.


Team houston

Practice day 2.  Randy decided we needed to look up river today. So we ran way up the Barren river and fished shallow wood and mud banks with little success. The afternoon we came back ou to the main lake and Randy caught a solid 5lber pitchin a jig to a bluff wall. The tally for today was 13 fish with 3 being keepers. Again we were only counting 15 inch fish as keepers. One other note this place fishes very SMALL. With 169 boats in our tourney practicing and several local tournys going on every point,pocket,cut bluff and nothing looking bank was occupied. very tough.


Quote from: Team houston on October 24, 2017, 09:07:06 AM
Practice day 2.  Randy decided we needed to look up river today. So we ran way up the Barren river and fished shallow wood and mud banks with little success. The afternoon we came back ou to the main lake and Randy caught a solid 5lber pitchin a jig to a bluff wall. The tally for today was 13 fish with 3 being keepers. Again we were only counting 15 inch fish as keepers. One other note this place fishes very SMALL. With 169 boats in our tourney practicing and several local tournys going on every point,pocket,cut bluff and nothing looking bank was occupied. very tough.

That sounds like some tough conditions(the pressure). Good luck and keep the updates coming.

Team houston

Practice day 3.  Today Randy decided to start on some rip rap by the dam. 5 min in and one slurps my buzzbait in and I land a 15 inch keeper. Randy catches a couple shorts on his buzzbait and we move on. We hit another main lake pocket loaded with shad. On one of my casts the buzzbait is violently smashed and I hook up. A smallmouth comes flying out of the water and proceeds to jump 4 more times. When I finally get him subdued he is a nice 16 inch keeper. We jump around and fish another variety of stuff. Randy catches a couple more shorts on the buzzbait and a keeper on a spinnerbait where we find a couple fish busting shad. I catch one more keeper on the buzzbait and a short. I feel if I end up on shallow pockets during the tournament an early morning buzzbait may get me a keeper. Late in the day we move back out to the bluffs and Randy catches 3 keepers on a jig. The tally for the day is pretty good. about 25 fish with 7 keepers. That smallmouth I caught was the only one I physically saw with my own eyes. I heard of 2 others caught. there may have been a couple more. So with 338 guys fishing two days that's not many. So if anybody tries to tell you Barren river is a good smallmouth lake, its not. We did see a family of otters swimming around near us today.That was pretty cool. They also like to chew the heads off shad and then catch another. Funny they only eat the heads and they have no problem catching them. Also Heath was dialing in a drop shot pattern which would be crucial.


This might be the reason I keep coming back .. love your reads nice job Houston

2008 Skeeter 20I " Thanks Robin"


I agree with Don.  Keep them reports coming.

Team houston

Practice day 4  Today since we had seen people fishing offshore Randy decided to use his sidescan and search for some  brushpiles. First though he wanted to run a few more main lake pockets while the sun was low. Today I was throwing a spook and Randy the buzzbait. About the second pocket we hit I had a blow up on the spook and hooked up with a nice fish. I lip land a nice 4lb LM. Meanwhile Randy catches a small fish also. With no other results the sun is up and we start looking for brush. Amazing we find about 7 likely candidates and we catch fish out of three of them. One is a 3.5 lber I get on the shakey head. Randy hooks up with a heavy fish but while keeping his rod down to hide it, it gets off. The talley for the day is aprox 10 fish with those 2 good keepers I caught. We are happy with are brushpile results and will look for some more on our last practice day tomorrow which will be a short one because of the meeting.

Team houston

Practice day 5 Wed. Randy wants to get off the water today at 1. which is good, it gives plenty of time to fine tune our tackle for tomorrow. Again we run some more shallow stuff while the sun is low and catch some small ones. We then continue to look for brushpiles. While slow rolling a spinnerbait thru some deep brush I do catch a 15 inch keeper. After the sun comes up we try some new bluffs and I catch a 4lber on a shakey head. We also check near the ramp for last min fishing and although it was covered with boats we still catch three fish and one is a keeper. The total for the day is 12 fish and 3 keepers. We get off the water and tend to last min details. While we are at dinner we get a text that the launch for the tourny is being moved from Port Oliver near the dam to halfway down the lake to Barren River state park. Apparently the DNR did some testing and felt the Dissolved oxygen  Content was too low near the dam to release fish. That messed us up because we purposely rented a house only a mile from the ramp. oh well!  So after the meeting we get with our partners and figure out a plan of attack to get everybody to the new launch. Which includes many people launching elsewhere and running over in the dark. Heath did this. Randy drove me over to the park were my partner was staying and Randys partner met him there.

Team houston

Tourny Day 1.
I am paired with Don Vandameer from Illinois. Dons plan A is to fish deep rubble and brush. Plan b is small main lake pockets and plan c is to parallel bluffs cranking. I am ok with all of it. When it comes to the bluffs I will just drop shot next to or behind the boat. I forgot to mention that I had used a d -shot to  catch some small fish the last two days around bluffs. But Heath has been catching keepers doing it so I am game.

We get to his first spot and there is another boat fishing about 100 yrd away. Dons ok with that they are not where he caught them in practice. We fish for about an hr with no bites and Don decides to move to the shore about a quarter mile away were he caught them on a popper. I break out the buzzbait and rotate that with a spook. Don rotates between the popper and a spook.

Don gets one half hearted swirl behind his spook and that's it for topwater action on the day. We decide to run some pockets Don caught some fish in in practice. About the 3rd one I recognize as one me and Randy had fished. There is a lot less shad activity and the water has dropped about 2 feet since the beginning of practice. We heard they were dropping 6 inches a day to get to winter pool.

Anyway half way thru and I pick up a spinnerbait. On one of my casts I get bit and get a 15 inch keeper in the net. I am very happy to be able to weigh at least 1 fish. I get bit again but it is a short. Don switches to a spinnerbait and gets a follow from a small one. We decide to circle it again with spinnerbaits but get no more action.

We fish a couple more pockets with no success. Don says its time for plan c, the bluffs. He starts cranking the bluffs were he caught fish in practice and I am d shotting and throwing the shakey head when I can. I would like to mention the amazing ability of barren river fish to eat a worm or jig un detected. Randy and I discussed this and figured 90% of our slow bait fish we did not feel. We either saw the line moving or it got mushy. I feel back in Michigan or any where else I have fished it would be 90% to 10% the other way.

So I am shakey heading in tight to a bluff and feel the mush and cant get a good hook set and a slot fish or maybe even a 15 inch keeper comes flying out of the water and throws the hook. #$@!%$^&* I know bites will be at a premium so I am not happy.

We try another bluff and start near the end of it. There is another boat fishing off the point. We go about 20 yards and I get that mushy feeling on my shakey head. I slam the hook home and lead a solid 15 inch keeper to the net. 5 min later its mush city again and I swing for the fences again and get a nice 14 inch slot fish in the net. I am stoked to have 3 keepers.

After fishing the whole bluff and getting neer the end I have not lost that mushy feeling and swing again. Another 15 inch keeper. We go back to the begging and try it again and only catch shorts. We run back down to the other end and while d shotting I hook up with a small fish. As I swing it aboard I realize it is a spotted bass. I put it on the board and it touches the 12 inch line. HOLY CRAP!! I have a limit.

We finish out the day on other bluffs with no more action. At weigh in my fish go 8.14 and is one of only 2 co angler limits in all three days. I end up in 2nd place for the day and am in great position to make the top 12 cut.



Team houston

Tourny day 2.
Today I am paired with Kyle Wallace from Ohio. Kyle had 3 yesterday and his co had 1. So he is around some fish. I feel I need 1 good fish or a couple small ones to hold my position in the top 12.

This is kyle's second year as a boater. He says he is a crankbait guy and apologizes because he is shallow cranking, paralleling the bank. He is very accommodating and tells me to throw anywhere. Over his shoulder even over his head to reach where I need to. I thank him and tell him I would never do that but I am comfortable throwing ahead of the boat.

He is fishing a couple hundred yard stretch of Beaver creek. After a ten minute run we settle into his chosen bank. There are plenty of targets. Logs, brush, trees, rock and a mini-bluff that drops straight to 8 feet. Plus there is all the stuff you can't see.

It only takes 10 min and Kyle gets a nice 13 and a half slot fish into the net. I notice Kyle is only cranking, so when we go by any wood I pick up a beaver and make a pitch or three. Kyle is catching fish on a regular basis, most are shorts but some are slots and he culls accordingly. Finally he hooks up and announces" this is a good one."

He fights the fish for a minute and it bulldogs under the boat. He finally gets it to the surface and I net one about 4 and a half lbs. Kyle is pumped. With that good kicker if he can get a limit he might not only get a check but crack the top 12.

We continue on till the bank swings 90 degrees toward the bridge that goes over the creek. He turns around and starts back along the bank we just covered. I am rotating between the beaver and a Strike King flat sided balsa shallow runner that is out of production. I bought it about 8 yrs ago at the Novi fishing show for about $20.

I mostly stick with the beaver hoping to find one in all this wood that doesn't hit his crankbait. Finally I make a pitch at nothing in particular and after a couple hops get a classic thump. I swing like I mean it and get a solid connection. The fish boils the water and its a nice one. I get it to the boat and it dives twice as Kyle is trying to net it.

Finally the third time it stays still enough for Kyle to net it. I put it on the board and it goes over 15 inches.  I put it in the livewell and then breathe a huge sigh of relief. If that is the only keeper I catch at least I have a shot now. Plus, the rest of the day, as it is only about 9 oclock. We fish all the way back to were we started with a couple more small ones.

Kyle says we will give it a rest and we head back closer to the main lake and fish several bluffs. We only catch shorts and after a couple hrs head back to his main stretch. We start at the beginning and fish the whole stretch with no keepers. When we get to the 90 degree turn we keep going towards the bridge. There are some bigger tress in the water here.

I am throwing the crank between two big pieces of wood and my rod loads up. My first bite on the crank today. All the others were on the beaver and shakey head on the bluffs. It is only about 15 feet from the boat and I see it is a slot fish. Instead of waiting for the net I crank a couple times and swing the fish in without any tragedies. It measures over 13 inches and gives me an insurance lb. That is the last of the keepers for the day. My 2 fish weigh 3.2 and I stay in the top 12 falling to 5th.

I am very happy. It is very hard to make the cuts at these regionals. I am about 8 lbs back of the leader so an achievable goal is a couple more fish and a crucial top 6.

Team houston

Tourny day 3.
Today I am paired with 5th place boater Jack Dalzell. Jack tells me he is fishing main lake and secondary points. He says his main spot is a hundred yard stretch of bank leading into a small pocket. I feel if I can catch 3lbs I can stay in the top 6.

After racing across the lake for 5 min we pull up to his spot. Since this is a Sat there is already local traffic in the area. Another boat is fishing the point and Jack talks to them and explains he doesn't want to fish the point. He says he just wants to go past them and go back and forth on his stretch. They are cool with that and everybody is happy.

We start fishing and Jack gets bit on his first cast. He gets a nice one over 15 into the net. On his third cast he gets bit again and gets a slot fish into the net. Now I am visibly shaking. I picture a school of fish eating and we could both be doing really well in a hurry.

It slows after that but not for long. About 5 minutes later as he is telling me the fish had mushy bites we are discussing that's how it was for each of us this week.  As he is talking I feel the mush. I set the hook and connect. After a short fight I get a 13 Inch spotted bass into the net. I should mention Jack is throwing a wobble head and I am throwing a football jig.

We reach the end of the stretch with no more bites. We head back the other way. I am rotating between two different size football jigs. Also mixing in a drop shot and a shakey head with a 3 inch beaver on it. Jack showed me the pieces of crawfish in his livewell so I figured to stay with crawfish baits.

One of my casts with the shaky beaver it gets mushy. I swing hard and connect. I lead a 15 inch keeper into the net. I am very happy to have 2 fish in the box. Not to long after I finally get a normal solid tap and again swing like I mean it. My heart is pumping as I see one about 2 and 3/4 coming across the surface toward the net. Relieved it goes in with no misshaps. Now I am really stoked!!

I should mention we are fishing water from 5 to 20 feet deep. Depending to where on the stretch, there is different size rock also. A short time later after working my football jig almost all the way out and am jigging it near vertical. I get another normal tap and set straight up and connect. I get a 14 inch slot into the boat. I look at my watch and it is just after 10.

I have had a dream morning. The action does slow now. After 3 or 4 more trips up and down Jack decides to hit a few more places where he caught fish in practice. We catch some fish at some of them but they are all shorts.

We then go to a long cove with standing timber in it. The water is 10 feet deep around it. Jack is throwing a Whopper Plopper. I feel if I am gonna get a 5th fish I want it to be a good one so I put on a Spook. I am having visions of a 5lb LM or a 7lb SM smashing it. I know, I know but they are visions.

As I am working the Spook by some timber I get a blow up and nearly have a heart attack. I quickly recover when I realize its just a 10 inch fish I hooked up with. Boy did that get the heart going.

Jack decides to spend the last two hrs on our starting bank. With a nice breeze and overcast conditions we can't believe we can't get another bite. Finally at 2 o clock Jack connects and gets a 3lber in the boat. A couple min later he hooks up again but it is a short.

He hooks up again and this one is heavy and bull dogging. He is really excited for a big fish. When it breaks the surface it is a stinking Catfish. He has not caught one here all week. With a 3 0 clock check in we fish a while longer then head in.

My 4 fish weigh 8.2 and I land in 2nd place. This week has been like a dream with bites coming my way. I win a nice piece of change and get the big prize. Another trip to the All American. Jack ends up in 4th and we are both pumped. We make plans to ride together down to the big show at Louisiana's Cross lake next May.

Team houston

I mentioned in an earlier post about Heath developing a crucial drop-shot pattern. He was able to ride that for limits the first two days and actually caught 8 keepers the first tourney day. He made the top 12 cut in 4th place. The pressure got to his fish and he was only able to catch two the last day. At 10 o clock he ran way up river to some flipping fish as his plan B. He had several bites but could not put any in the boat. He only needed one more to make the All American but it wasn't meant to be. He finished 10th. Randy struggled and caught one 4lber the first day but couldn't  add much to it. He eventually ended up in 59th. Looking forward to Kentucky lake next year. Hope you guys enjoyed it.


Congrats on a great season Phill.   Looking forward to seeing that shakey head beaver combo in the spring again.

2019 BassCat Caracal
225 Evinrude G2 HO
Humminbird Solix 12's
Minnkota Ultrex

Team houston

Thanks Dan. Whats the latest on your misshap?


Nice job Phil keep us posted on the big dance in May
2008 Skeeter 20I " Thanks Robin"


Great report again.   See ya in the spring.


Congratulations again Team houston!!! You may end up in a hall of fame somewhere... who knows?!?

What about this 'mishap' you mention??

Help stop invasive spcies. Don't move fish between unconnected bodies of water. Clean, drain and dry your boat before launching on another water body.
Unless clearly stated as such, opinions expressed by Dan Kimmel on this forum are not the opinions or policies of The Bass Federation of Michigan.

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