by Hank Veggian & Joe Haubenreich
Six events in two days, with more than 200 registered anglers, battling for prizes and glory in the August heat – it was a weekend for the ages in the 2020 RealTree Fishing KBF Trail Series presented by Dee Zee Truck Accessories. On Saturday August 1, two tournaments began in the Eastern time zone, with lines in at 6 a.m. and a third at Caddo on Central Time.
This is the story of six events in two days in two Trail regions. It is the story day one. It is also the story of two anglers – Ken Wood and Adam Petrone – with one goal – victory. Both came close to victory on Day 1, then stormed back for wins on Day 2.
Hartwell/Keowee (KBF Mid-Atlantic Region)
It begins at Hartwell and Keowee (Clemson, S.C.) and it begins with South Carolina natives holding serve in this event, which was hosted by Barry Davis and the Palmetto State Kayak Trail. Drew Steele took the early lead with a three fish limit, with Tracy Stanford and Lowell Brannan also near the top of the leaderboard. South Carolina’s Kenneth Davis made his presence known too with a 21.25” bass, which would later be superseded as Lowell Brannan posted a 21.75” tank and took the mid-day lead.
Everything changed around noon, however, as a tight leaderboard opened up. Nebraska’s Kristine Fischer, who won 1st place in 2019 at the KBF Trail Event on Lake Chickamauga, posted a 90” limit, taking the lead from Lowell Brannan. Other late bags began to appear, as Georgia’s Nawtou Ly and Tony Yang climbed the board, as did West Virginia’s legendary Jody Queen. Nawtou Ly’s bag included yet another giant – a 24” bass that took the top prize in the Big Bass category! However, a late 1” upgrade by Kristine Fischer helped her hold the top spot in a dramatic finish. South Carolina’s Lowell Brannan managed to hold onto to a top 3 spot, courtesy of a big fish tie breaker over Jody Queen, and represent his state.
The top 5 at Hartwell/Keowee on Saturday, August 1st were:
- Kristine Fischer (NE) 912)
- Nawtou Ly (GA) 90.25”
- Lowell Brannan (SC) 86”
- Jody Queen (WV) 86”
- Tony Yang (GA) 77”
Charles River (KBF Northeast Region)
Farther to the north, on the idyllic waters of the Charles Rivers in Massachusetts, another drama played out as anglers from New York and Pennsylvania took the early lead. After one hour of competition, Nate Hall had a 68” limit, followed by Tyler Sweet (NY) and Massachusetts angler Chris Nardi. Tyler Sweet’s early 20” bass held the Big Bass lead for the entire day, but he would have to upgrade to extend his position. A pair of New Hampshire anglers – Kevin Dowie and Jonathan Richardson – rounded out the early top 5. Richardson would remain in contention throughout the day, and then….
Ken Wood took the lead at mid day when he posted an 84” limit, with Tyler Sweet and a surging Derek Brundle on his heels. In Ken’s words, “I wanted to get away from the crowds. I’ve fished a large portion of the Charles River over the years and I know the popular sections of river, those areas that people congregate to during tournaments. So on Wednesday and Thursday I pre-fished sections I’d never fished before. I did okay on Wednesday, put up 72 inches. On Thursday, I banged out 86 inches at another spot, but it was a small area. A handful of laydowns, maybe five six total, but they produced. I decided to go back there on Saturday, hoping that the pattern stayed the same. It did. In this section of the river, the bass did not, for whatever reason, relate to the weeds. At least on these days, they were relating to wood. Generally I don’t do a lot of flipping. I like to power fish with moving baits, so I had to slow down and pick apart these laydowns. Sometimes I’d get one quick, but other times I had to repeatedly flip until I found the sweet spot. I put up 84 inches, good for second place.”
In the end, it was Jonathan Richardson who prevailed by upgrading and passing Ken Wood in the final hour. Ken had thought his lead was secure, and had moved on from his location. He would have to gather himself and make a plan for day 2. We’ll come back to that in the Day 2 recap……
The top 5 on August 1st, 2020 on the Charles River:
- Jonathan Richardson (NH) 85.75”
- Ken Wood (MA) 84”
- Tyler Sweet (NY) 83.50”
- Derek Brundle (MA) 82.75”
- Stephen Scott (MA) 80.25”
Now, for Caddo and our second featured angler. Adam Petrone. The site of the 2019 KBF National Championship in Shreveport, LA. (and again in 2021!), Caddo’s cypress bayous offered shade for the day’s competition, but little respite from the tournament heat.
Just two hours in, Adam Petrone announced his presence with a 78.50” limit, and he would remain in contention throughout the day. Golden Hour honors went to KBF veteran Mel Ashe with a 21.75″ largemouth. Florida’s Allen Sweat was only 2 inches off the lead, with locals Josh Duffel, Daniel Chambers, Andrew Green close behind. 2018 KBF National Champion Dwayne Taff made his presence known early, too, as did Louisiana’s Vincent Soliz and Arkansas’ Roy Grubb, Garret Morgan and Jason Adams. But surprises are always in store on Caddo, and by noon 2018 KBF Angler of the Year Cody Milton had seized first place on the NRS Live leaderboard.
Adam Petrone was not finished – he crept close with an upgrade, but Milton replied with an upgrade of his own. Milton did not relinquish the lead, but Petrone’s story would continue on Day 2…..
The top 5 on August 1st, 2020 on Caddo Lake:
- Cody Milton (AR) 93.75”
- Adam Petrone (LA) 91.25”
- Dwayne Taff (TX) 90.50”
- Jacob Lavergne (LA) 88.00”
- Andrew Green (LA) 87.25”
It was a dramatic weekend filled with dramatic comebacks, valiant defenses of the lead, and big fish. The anglers earned their payouts and stripes in the August heat, and many would continue on Day 2. Among them were Adam Petrone and Ken Wood….
The KBF South-Central Region is sponsored by Native Watercraft. The event was hosted by Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission and the Red River Waterway Commission. Bayou Pirates Kayak Fishing (BPKF) is the KBF Partner host for our event, with Jamie Broad as this weekend’s Tournament Coordinator.
The Mid-Atlantic KBF Trail region is sponsored by Ketch Products Inc. The KBF Partner club that organized and supported bringing the event to their state is Palmetto State Kayak Bass Fishing Trail, with Barry Davis as Tournament Director.
The Northeast KBF TRAIL event is sponsored by Dakota Lithium. The KBF Partner club that organized and supported bringing the event to their state is Massachusetts Kayak Bassin’, with Ken Wood as Tournament Director.
Other Series sponsors are:
- YakAttack — Make it Yours
- Diatract Sense Surge Technology
- Power-Pole Total Boat Control
- FishUSA, America’s Tackle Shop
- Tactacam Fish-I