KBF TRAIL Recap by Christopher Decker

With warmer than average temperature during the practice week, Lake Murray seemed prime for a pre-spawn explosion and the 120 anglers fishing the Realtree Fishing KBF Trail Series powered by Dakota Lithium Feb. 25-26 took full advantage.

In KBF’s two previous years of visiting the fishery, Lake Murray has kicked out giant bags and big bass, and this weekend’s event was no different. Over two days of competition, 14 bags measuring 90 inches or better were caught with 32 bass over 20 inches hitting the Dakota Lithium Big Bass leaderboard, including three that were over 23 inches.

Trail I: Saturday, February 25, 2023

Lake Murray has been a special fishery for Old Town pro Casey Reed. After notching a Top 5 finish last year during the Trail Series event on Lake Murray, Reed took home the Day 1 victory this time around at the central South Carolina reservoir with 98.5 inches.

“I’ve always done well here and I always look forward to coming back,” Reed said. “This is the third year I have been here. It is an amazing fishery. There are huge fish here and it is a very diverse fishery. It feels similar to what I fish at Smith Mountain Lake back home.”

Reed is coming off a 7th-place showing in the KBF The Ten championship and this win adds to the Old Town pro’s impressive resumé. His final stringer was made up of a 21”, 20”, 19.75”, 19.5” and an 18.25”.

During practice, Reed fished just about everything Lake Murray had to offer but in the final hours, Reed pitched to a grassline and caught two bass back-to-back. That was enough for Reed to run with during the tournament and it worked to his advantage.

His smallest fish on the day was bigger than any he had caught in practice. Reed said:

“I practiced for four days kind of doing the same stuff I’ve done in previous years. I was catching decent fish, (but) no winning bags or anything,” Reed explained. “I decided to run to that area first thing in the morning and caught two good fish right there and did that the rest of the day. They just kept getting bigger and bigger. You couldn’t ask for anything more.”

While the wind on Trail I made it difficult to physically see into the water, Reed believes the bass he caught were spawning. He power fished along the grassline with a Jig Shack Reaper shaky head with a green pumpkin Zoom Shakey Head Worm.

Several anglers found success early on in the event, including Derek Brundle, who landed 84.50 inches before 8:15 a.m. using a Berkley Frittside and a shaky head in the shallows. As the morning progressed, more and more anglers found their footing and vaulted up the leaderboard.

North Carolina’s Nick Huddleston made a big jump around 8:30, landing a 23-incher that helped him achieve 88 inches early on in the morning. Reed, meanwhile, found consistent quality throughout the morning, taking the lead at around 10 a.m. with 92.25 inches with the help of a 20-incher and a 19.75-inch largemouth.

As the day progressed, Reed added a 21-inch largemouth as well as other 19-inch fish to improve to his final total at around noon.

He, however, was not the only one who upgraded during the midday period. The 2023 TEN champion Ryan Nye became the second angler on the day to break the 90-inch mark, landing 91.75 before noon with bass between 17 and 19 inches using mostly a Rapala DT6 crankbait.

Tim Isaacs broke 90 shortly after with a 21.5-inch largemouth just after noon.

Last year’s Pro Series champion Jeremy Health also made a mid-day push. With a 23.25 behemoth in his limit as well as a 22.50, Heath filled out his limit at 11:15 and began the hunt for a third kicker fish.

The North Carolina angler claimed the Dakota Lithium Big Bass of the Day with that 23.25, which he caught using a True South Fathead jig with a Bizz Baits Cutter Craw trailer.

After a little lull in the mid-day, Brundle upgraded to 90.5 inches and in total, six anglers hit the 90-inch threshold. No one, however, was able to catch Reed.

  1. Casey Reed: 98.5
  2. Ryan Nye: 95.5
  3. William Brewer: 92.75
  4. Jimmy McClurkan: 92.75
  5. Derek Brundle: 90.75
  6. Tim Isaacs: 90
  7. Jeremy Heath: 89.75
  8. Josh Stewart: 89.5
  9. Joseph D’Addeo: 89.25
  10. Nick Huddleston: 88.25
Trail II: February 26, 2023

Missed opportunities plagued Ryan Matylewicz on event 1 of the Trail Series. What could have been a Top 5 day turned into a disappointment, as a quality bass bounced off the gunnel of the kayak and returned to the water before being measured.

With a sour taste in his mouth, and not liking much of what was happening in his primary area, Matylewicz searched his maps before Day 2 and picked an area he had never fished before and set out Sunday morning in hopes of better fortunes.

“I wanted to try something a little different. I had never seen the water or ramp before,” the Pennsylvania native said. “I went there for the first time today.”

His map study paid off, as Matylewicz rounded up 97.25 inches to take home the Trail Series II victory on Lake Murray with bass measuring 20.5, 20, 19.75, 18 and 16.75.

“I have done well historically here,” he explained. “It feeds into my type of offshore fishing. For the past two days I fished docks, rocks and brush piles basically. Covering water and trying to find the fish. I should have had a Top 5 yesterday too. Today I turned it around.”

Slightly warmer, but still cloudy conditions greeted anglers on Trail II at Lake Murray. While the morning bite did not materialize quite as quickly as it did on Day 1, by 10 a.m. the bigger bass and some limits began to hit the leaderboard on Fishing Chaos.

Rich Biggie made the most of the first three hours of fishing, catching 91.75 inches with two bass measuring over 19 inches fishing docks with a shaky head.

Close behind was North Carolina’s Jared Stanley with 86.25 inches and Joshua Sharp at 85 inches. Reed also achieved 82.25 inches by 10 a.m. to put himself in contention to sweep the weekend. Six bass over 20 inches were caught in the early morning hours, including a 23.25” lunker landed by Joshua Brewer.

Brewer’s bass earned Dakota Lithium Big Bass of the Day honors.

By mid-day, three anglers had reached the 90 inch threshold, with Benjamin Wilkey leading the way at 93.25, followed by Biggie with 91.75 and Stanley with 90.25. The next 19 anglers all were over 80 inches and three more bass of 20 inches made it to the leaderboard by noon.

Catching a 20.5 and a 19.75 after noon, Matylewicz surged into the top spot with 96.25 inches and upgraded to his final total shortly after. He never relinquished the lead, but he had to hold off a hard charging Reed, who caught a 20.25-incher off a dock with seven minutes to go to upgrade and finish in second place with 93.75.

  1. Ryan Matylewicz: 97.25
  2. Casey Reed: 93.75
  3. Rich Biggie: 93.5
  4. Benjamin Wilkey: 93.25
  5. Jared Stanley: 93
  6. Ben Lawwell: 92.5
  7. Eric Nelson: 90.75
  8. Jimmy McClurkan: 90.25
  9. Glenn Landstrom: 89.75
  10. Robert Sinker: 89.75

With a first and second-place finish during the two days, Reed claimed the Dakota Lithium Double-Up victory as well with a total of. Reed was able to sight fish for part of the second day and made several key upgrades in the final hours.

“I’m happy to put two days together down here. [Trail I] was obviously awesome. [Trail II] I didn’t know what to expect. I have never had two really good days here and I was hoping I could put something together. I started in the same spot and ran the same water, I just fished it a bit faster today.”

Looking Ahead

The KBF Trail Series season heads from the east coast to the west coast for the next event as anglers will take on legendary Lake Havasu is up next. Competition days are scheduled for March 25-26 on the Colorado River impoundment that features both smallmouth and largemouth bass. Registration is currently open for this event!

Additional Info

About the Author: Christopher Decker is a North Carolina based kayak angler, and a regular contributor to Bassmaster.com and B.A.S.S. Times magazine. He represents Carolina Waters and Gambler Lures. He is also the host of the Carolina Kayak Lunker Hunters podcast, now in its third season.

Click here and here to watch the complete awards ceremony hosted by RJM Fish Tales from Columbia, S.C.

The Realtree Fishing KBF Trail on Lake Murray was hosted by https://www.columbiascsports.com/

Complete Standings: https://app.fishingchaos.com/tournament/kbf-trail-series-or-lake-murray-inwork

For the 2023 KBF events schedule: https://www.kayakbassfishing.com/schedule/

Questions regarding event details (i.e. eligible water, schedule, etc..) email Jason@kayakbassfising.com

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First Published February 27, 2023

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