Lashlee, who on Thursday boated a limit that weighed 23 pounds, 13 ounces, led a star-studded Tour field, which will cut to the top 50 after Friday’s competition. The field includes seven CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series anglers; Woo Daves, who is the 2000 CITGO Bassmaster Classic champion; and two noteworthy Federation Nation anglers: South African Anré de Villiers and Colorado’s Joe Conway, both of whom qualified for the 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Classic via the 2006 Federation Nation National Championship.
“Experience plays a big part in fishing,” said Lashlee, who just two weeks ago won a national tournament on Kentucky Lake. “I know where the sweet spots are and what baits to use (for) the conditions, and that is something that plays into my favor.”
The 44-year-old from Camden, Tenn., estimates he has fished Kentucky Lake as many as 200 times in one year. His experience propelled him to the lead, but getting there wasn’t easy: Thursday he persevered through boat trouble and a pounding hail storm that robbed him of nearly two hours of fishing.
Using a variety of lures in 6 to 8 feet of water — a crankbait, a football jig and a black-grape worm — Lashlee targeted shallow ledges that contained gravel and stumps. Falling for his crankbait was a 7-pound bass that was Thursday’s Purolator Big Bass, earning Lashlee a $1,000 bonus.
“The fish were concentrated in shallower water than I thought they would be,” Lashlee said. “The lake was pulling a lot of current and it seems to me that the fish are moving shallow, and that is where I will start tomorrow.”
Also using experience to his advantage was Cordle, who boated 20 pounds, 4 ounces of bass. He estimated that he has visited the fishery nearly 700 times in five years.
Throwing a worm, Cordle said he targeted smooth ledges in 5 to 10 feet of water on Lake Barkley, which along with Kentucky Lake comprises the tournament waters of the Tour event.
“I know what I have to do the next two days,” Cordle said. “If it (a win) is in the cards, then it will happen.”
Rounding out the top five on the pro side were Kentucky’s Shawn Penn (19-15), Tennessee’s Jason Sain (18-6) and Kentucky’s Rodney Brown (18-3).
On the co-angler side, Alabama’s Rob Lee led his division after catching a three-fish limit for a Day 1 weight of 10 pounds, 10 ounces. Lee leads Illinois anglers Brad Bruns (9-10) and Jason Farrell (9-7). Whichever angler emerges as the winner on Saturday will go home with the co-angler top prize of a Triton boat package valued at $30,000.
Also on Thursday, Elite Series angler Doc Merkin was disqualified from the Kentucky Lake Northern Tour event because he violated Rule 3.i.
Pros are fishing for a total prize purse of $324,650. The champion pro will take home $30,000 in cash and a fully rigged Triton boat valued at $45,000. Co-anglers are competing for a total prize purse of $68,800.
BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation annually. Guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans, BASS sets the standard for credibility, professionalism, sportsmanship and conservation, as it has for nearly 40 years.
BASS stages bass fishing tournaments for every skill level and culminates with the CITGO Bassmaster Classic. Through its clubs, youth programs, aquatic resource advocacy, magazine publishing and multimedia platforms, BASS offers the industry’s widest array of services and support to its nearly 550,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit www.bassmaster.com.
Local Sponsors: Local sponsors include the Kentucky Sports Authority and the Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park.
CITGO Bassmaster Tour Sponsors: CITGO Petroleum Corp., Toyota, Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Lowrance Electronics and MotorGuide.