Quitting Isn’t the Answer

Team Tournament Blogger – Luke Estel


Last weekend my partner Chopper and I fished the USA Bassin Classic held on Kentucky Lake. Every year we fish that event it seems as if the fish are in transition. There are fish to be caught in the bushes, there are fish to be caught on the shad spawn, and there is a few out on the ledges. It is extremely hard to run one pattern. It is usually better to junk fish for two days and pray for the right bites. In practice we caught a few fish doing targeting all three of those patterns. Our go to spot is our “mega ledge” where we have smashed them in the years past. The day before the tournament we pulled up on it where I took one cast and caught a six pounder. That one fish ended up haunting us in the tournament. Day one, we set out on a shad spawn pattern and where able to catch two small keepers before the bite died. We then took one pass down our ledge without a bite. We were planning on a late ledge bite so we ran to Big Sandy and lost two decent fish flipping bushes. Around noon we headed back to the ledge and camped on it for two and half hours. We never go a bite. We were beyond disappointed with our decision making. Instead of driving home with our tails between our legs, we decided to go for broke and try to catch a monster sack, except we had nowhere to go. I had a small shell bed directly across the lake where we had caught fish in the past so we decided to start there. About my third cast I caught a four. Then Chopper had a good bite and never hooked up. We fished it for about an hour when he asked what else I had close. There was a small rock pile on a drop that I had a waypoint on about two hundred yards from there. We pulled up on it and my first cast, one rocked my football jig. When it jumped I knew it wasn’t a green bass. I finally got him to the boat and flipped the four pound smallmouth into the boat. That would be my biggest smallmouth I have ever caught on Kentucky Lake. Chopper quickly followed me up with two more keeper smallmouth. I was still getting a lot of bites but could not hook up with any more. Chopper switched to a shakey head and a green pumpkin Strike King Cutr worm and went to work. Within minutes he boated another smallmouth pushing four pounds giving us our limit. We both talked about how cool it would be to cull the two smallest ones we had with two more big tanks and it happened. Again Chopper sets the hook and the brown bass would not stay in the water jumping all the way to the boat. Five minutes later he set the hook again on another giant. We both had no clue how much weight we had but knew we were over eighteen pounds. With four cookie cutter smallmouth and one largemouth the only thing we knew was to go look for a couple giants so, of course, we packed up and headed south to our ledge. And just like the day before, we never got a bite. With an hour to go we went back to our smallmouth hole catching two more keeper smallmouth that did not help our bag. At weigh in our fish ended up weighing eighteen and half pounds. It was the biggest bag of smallmouth either of us had, not only caught, but weighed in at a tournament. We moved from 106thplace into 33rdplace. The moral of the story is to never quit. Because when you start giving up in tournaments, you will never become successful. Fishing is fishing. Sure we all want to win, but if you are constantly giving up and quitting before the buzzer sounds, you are in the wrong hobby. That one day will go down as was of the funnest fishing days we have ever had. And we didn’t even cash a check, but is sure was worth going out on day two.


Strike King Pro Luke Estel from Carbondale Illinois Fishes the BASS Opens, Is an AnglersChoice Classic Champion and an all around great guy and fisherman as well as accomplished writer.