The Realtree Fishing #KBFTRAIL presented by DeeZee visited Lakes Candlewood and Lillilnonah on May 22nd-23rd as anglers chased giant Smallies, Largemouth and precious AOY and ROY points. Ryan Nye won the Saturday KBF TRAIL to improve his FARWIDE AOY position. Sunday would provide opportunity for others, including the 2020 DEE ZEE KBF THE TEN Champion Jody Queen to improve his points standings in the KBF TRAIL Series AOY race.

But Jon Richardson had plans of his own. He had finished in 9th place the previous day, while Judy Richardson placed 18th on Saturday, too. Both anglers had found good bites, and on Sunday, they improved on precedent. Not only did they become the first husband and wife to finish in the prize money together on the KBF TRAIL, Jon did so by beating a kayak fishing legend in dramatic, last minute fashion along the way.

Tournament day began with a busy Fishing Chaos leaderboard. In the early hours, Nick Audi was in 1st place with a 5 fish limit of 90.25”, followed by Brad Campbell and Michael Williams. Other anglers in the top 10 posted big fish, while Ryan Matylewicz took the top spot on the #Bucketmouth Big Bass leaderboard with a 21.5” tank of a Largemouth. It was joined by a 20” Smallmouth that John Tibbens landed. This was one of the weekend’s top stories, as Smallmouth Bass and Largemouth Bass over 20” were continually being posted, with the big Largemouth edging out the Smallies on both days.

As the day progressed, Dee Zee KBF The TEN champ Jody Queen began to make noise and chip away at Nick Audi’s lead. By 1 pm, Audi had a 95” limit after some upgrades, but Jody Queen was in first with 95.75”, a slim .75” lead. Audi was in third place, and between him and Queen, Jon Richardson, with 95.50”.

Jon Richardson had culled 2 fish between noon and 1 pm, but with 45 minutes to fish Richardson landed a 19.75” Smallmouth, culling 1.5” for the overall lead. The Smallmouth Bass did not win the top prize for Bucketmouth Brand Big Bass, but they had their say in determining the overall winner, delivering Richardson his second KBF TRAIL victory (he also won on the Charles River in 2020).

But the Largemouth Bass played a role, too. In the meantime, Judy Richardson had landed an 18” Largemouth to move into 6th place, securing the couple’s third top 10 finish of the weekend.

How They Won

Judy and Jon Richardson are a team, but as Judy memorably put it, “we do not fish together.” The couple focused on the Squantz Cove area of Candlewood Lake, where they pre-fished for two days prior to the event. Judy and Jon used different strategies and fished different areas. Here is their story of how it went, with a note from Jody Queen at the end:

Judy on Pre-Fishing and the Saturday KBF TRAIL

“I went to find a pattern, Jon went looking for beds for the most part. I found fish off rock piles and off small islands. Tried to find other areas as a backup plan as there were going to be bass boat tournaments all weekend. I found spots but [they were] very spread out. Both of us covered a lot of water but he went north, and I went south. Day one of the tourney all of my spots produced nothing, so I covered a lot of ground again and found fish on the edge of deep drop offs and along stone barrier walls along the banks. They were all very shallow, and a Ned rig was the only bait that worked. I lost one good fish day one.”

Jon on Pre-Fishing and the Saturday KBF TRAIL:

“I located  numerous beds holding large bass while Pre-fishing, caught several of them and they were very aggressive. I set the waypoints and that was most of my day 1 strategy. I knew there was a bass boat tourney so I looked for the deeper less conspicuous beds. Plan b was some rocky drop offs that gave up a few fish Pre-fishing, but nothing big.”

Day I (Saturday) I pedaled 3.5 miles to my first waypoint and there was an empty bed,  made some casts in the area and nothing. This would repeat at all of my waypoints. I needed to find plan B which was deep rocky areas that had steep rock faces. I also threw a spook as a search bait then threw a Ned to fish that followed but didn’t commit, getting 19.75 Smallie with this tactic. Got a smaller Largemouth. Ended up fishing some docks and rock walls to round out the day and finish in 9th.”

Judy on the Sunday KBF TRAIL:

“I pedaled 3.5 miles to my spot, went up and down a stretch of bank for most of the day, stone barrier walls and rocky drop offs on the shallow side. Missed a huge bass, he jumped then wrapped around a chain that was under the dock and snapped the line. Heartbreaker! Lost a couple others that may have counted but that’s fishing.”

“Wind picked up in the afternoon, I finished my shoreline then ended the day fishing under the gangplanks between shore and the floating docks, and got an 18” Largie a little after 1pm.

I used 3 poles and on day 2 had a Ned tied on all 3 as they kept getting snagged on the rocks and wood off the wooded shoreline. Caught the last fish with my dropshot pole which was a great fight!”

Jon on the Sunday KBF TRAIL:

“Day 2 I tried to find fish on beds early but gave up on that quickly. Fished some offshore flats but most of the day was on one shore fishing docks and stone walls, especially with overhanging vegetation. I followed a bass boat and a fellow kayaker, fishing very slowly and ending the day with the win. The secret was being flexible and fishing slow.”

Jody Queen, on the Richardsons’ weekend:
I met Judy on the water for the first time during this event. We talked at length about fishing and how even though as a family she and Jon enter these events, they rarely fish close to each other. They truly have their own identity and styles of fishing but still compete together as a family. The family that fishes together stays together, I would say. They are class acts and totally smashed it at Candlewood. It was an honor to meet and compete with them. Congratulations to both!”

The Richardson’s 3 trophy checks from the KBF TRAIL at Candlewood, (Photo Courtesy of Judy Richardson)

                                               The Top 10

  1. Jonathan Richardson 97.25”
  2. Jody Queen 95.75”
  3. Nick Audi 95”
  4. John Danko 92.5”
  5. Alex Miller 92.25”
  6. Judith Richardson 91.50”
  7. Patrick veomett 88.50”
  8. Daniel Munsell 88.25”
  9. Michael Williams 88”
  10. Derek Brundle 87”

Bucketmouth Brand Big Bass: Ryan Matylewicz 21.50”



Complete Standings:

What it Means

The Realtree Fishing KBF TRAIL presented by Dee Zee at Candlewood, CT improved the positions of several anglers on the FARWIDE TRAIL Series Angler of the Year leaderboard. With his victory, Ryan Nye moved into a three-way tie for second place. Jody Queen’s 2nd place finish moved him also into that 3-way tie for second, where he and Nye are tied with John Tibbens, who finished 3rd on Saturday to strengthen his position. Four events remain in the 2021 KBF TRAIL series, compromising 8 opportunities for anglers to improve their position.

To see the FARWIDE KBF TRAIL Series leaderboard, click here:

Additional Info:

Judy Richardson is sponsored by Old Town Kayaks and Canoes, Dakota Lithium and SheAngler Customs.

Jon Richardson is sponsored by Dakota Lithium.

The KBF TRAIL on Candlewood-Lillinonah was hosted by Danbury, CT.

Realtree Fishing KBF TRAIL Series Tournaments are presented by Dee Zee Truck Accessories

Additional Sponsors

Dakota Lithium Batteries    Shimano  YakAttack     FishUSA    Bending Branches    Torqeedo     Yeti

Power Pole  Tactacam Rogue Fishing  NRS  TRC Covers     Nines            FarWide

© KBF 2021