Junction City, Kan. — When grass-roots anglers from eight states arrive at Lake Milford in Kansas for the 2021 TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Central Regional April 21-23, the spawn will likely be in full swing, according to Kansas B.A.S.S. Nation President Richard Heflin.
“April is an interesting time for Milford,” Heflin said. “You are kind of going to be right in the heart of the spawn. You are going to have prespawn, spawn and postspawn going on.”
Located several miles northwest of Junction City, Milford Lake is home to the Kansas state record smallmouth, a 6-pound, 8-ounce fish caught in early April 2010, and Heflin suspects the next record-breaking smallmouth will also be caught in Milford.
The lake has hosted a couple of Bassmaster tournaments through the years, including the 2018 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Classic Bracket presented by Bass Pro Shops held in August.
Milford is a predominantly rocky lake with lots of offshore structure, including brushpiles, although the upper end of the lake has a large section of mud flats that can stain the water during heavy rains. While tournament anglers will be focusing on smallmouth and largemouth bass, weekend anglers visit the lake for crappie, walleye and catfish.
“It is right next to the military base, and we have a lot of people fish for a lot of species,” Heflin said. “There’s a lot of hidden brushpiles that some of the crappie fishermen put out. Locating some of that stuff could be a key player for guys that come in.”
While most bass anglers visit the lake to target smallmouth bass, Heflin said he wouldn’t be surprised to see a 6-pound smallmouth and a 6-pound largemouth weighed in on the same day.
Heflin said he expects the smallmouth to be at the tail end of the spawn or in the early postspawn phase, while the largemouth will be locking down on bed. Largemouth will be in classic spawning pockets and flats, and creature baits and jigs have historically caught those fish.
“The thing about Milford is the channels that go back in the pockets are fairly deep, so you are going to have edges and flats that are conducive to spawning. Depending on the rain volume, there’s a 50/50 chance that there will be some flooded vegetation and other flooded cover that will be good for largemouth.”
For smallmouth bass, Heflin said banks that transition from clay to chunk rock, clay to sand, or clay to pea gravel will be productive areas to cover with jigs and tubes.
The tournament is one of five regional championship events the B.A.S.S. Nation has scheduled around the country this year. Anglers will be competing for cash prizes and a spot in the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Championship.
The event is being hosted by the Geary County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“Junction City and Geary County, Kan., are very honored to have been selected as the host of the 2021 TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Central Regional Tournament,” said Michele Stimatze, Geary County Convention and Visitors Bureau Director.
“This will be an exciting time for Milford Lake, the largest lake in Kansas, and for our citizens and visitors. Having worked with B.A.S.S. Nation in the past, we know this event will attract visitors from across the nation and put the spotlight on Kansas bass fishing. Our team is already working to make it a great event, and we look forward to making everyone feel welcome.”