“The Grand Canyon of Tennessee” isn’t what most anglers would refer to as the best fishing on the Tennessee River, but they might give it more thought after Kerry Milner of Bono, Ark., posted a 25-pound, 12-ounce limit on Saturday to win the 30th Annual BFL All-American bass fishing championship. Arguably the hardest championship in bass fishing to qualify for and win, the All-American saw impressive weights this week on Nickajack Reservoir, the impoundment just upstream from Chickamauga on the Tennessee River.
Milner started the day in second place going into the final day of competition and after posting 18 and 19 pound limits, he followed it up with his big catch from tailraces below the Nickajack dam. He focused on hard rocky bottoms in 13 feet of water in one 100-yard stretch all week with a homemade football jig tipped with a Zoom Fat Albert Twin Tail Grub and a Carolina-rigged Zoom Brush Hog. He spent a lot of time reading the current and presenting his baits naturally in those currents to big bass all week.
“The Lord really blessed me this week, that’s all I can say,” Milner said. “I caught all my fish this week in one spot. Anytime you fish tailraces you’re going to find fish that are healthy and eat. They have to fight that current to feed and survive so you generally catch good quality fish in those areas.”
Here’s how the top-10 finished at the 2013 BFL All-American:
1 KERRY MILNER BONO, AR 63-00 (15) $100,000 + Ranger Cup: $20,000 $10,000
2 CHRIS WILKINSON FARMERSBURG, IN 57-03 (15) $20,000
3 COREY BRADLEY MCDONALD, TN 51-04 (15) $15,000
4 SHAWN GORDON RUSSELLVILLE, AR 46-11 (15) $14,000 + Ranger Cup: $7,000
5 DAVID WILLIAMS MAIDEN, NC 45-04 (15) $13,000 + Ranger Cup: $6,000
6 ERIC POINDEXTER EUFAULA, OK 44-13 (15) $12,000 + Ranger Cup: $5,000
7 JEREMY LAWYER SARCOXIE, MO 44-13 (15) $11,000 + Ranger Cup: $4,500
8 MICHAEL MURPHY LEXINGTON, SC 40-10 (15) $10,000 + Ranger Cup: $4,000
9 MICHAEL BLACK TOLEDO, IL 40-02 (15) $9,000 + Ranger Cup: $3,500
10 LIONEL BOTHA OKEECHOBEE, FL 38-06 (14) $8,000 + Ranger Cup: $3,000
For more information on this tournament and the other finishers, see David Brown’s article at FLWOutdoors.com.