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Tennessee’s Jake Lawrence Goes Wire-To-Wire, Wins MLF Toyota Series Presented By T-H Marine At Kentucky-Barkley Lakes

Calvert City, KY – For the third time in his career, Jake Lawrence put the bow on a dominating win on Kentucky Lake, leading  wire-to-wire in the Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats  Plains Division opener. The win marks his third in five tries on Kentucky and Barkley, and he’s led each event from the get-go. Impressively, he’s done it all kinds of ways, catching prespawn and postspawn smallmouth as well as summer largemouth, and with and without LiveScope.

This week, Lawrence came out of the gate with 24 pounds, 2 ounces, then followed it up with 18-3 on Day 2 and 20-13 on the final day, adding up to a 63-2 winning total. Finishing second with 61-13, Matt Robertson was by far Lawrence’s biggest competition as the only other angler to top 60 pounds.

Now, Lawrence needs to find space for another trophy, and he gets to take home a total of $74,500 (including a $35,000 Phoenix Bonus).

An expert with LiveScope and a jighead minnow, Lawrence weighed 10 smallmouth and five largemouth this week, and he caught almost everything from current breaks with a minnow on a lead head.

On the first and last days, the current was optimal to allow him to pick off single fish in relatively shallow water.

“It was current breaks, but it seemed to change throughout the week,” he explained. “The way that I caught them the first day and today, they weren’t necessarily right on the contact point, right where the current seam leaves the bank or leaves the shallow bar – that textbook spot. Most of mine were within 100 yards of it, but downstream of it, in the slack water. I don’t know if it is because we’ve had such strong current for such a period of time or what, but you could run it from right outside the marina as far south as you wanted to go.”

And Lawrence did use the whole lake. On Day 1, he started on a school near Moors, then finished south of Paris Landing. Today, he worked his way down almost to Jonathan Creek. Understanding the quirks of the current on Kentucky Lake let Lawrence succeed throughout the week.

“Yesterday, I feel like the inflow was as much or more than the outflow was, “he said. “So, a lot of your current breaks right at the mouth of the bays, you don’t get that sucking effect. It’s a lot of current, but all straight down the river channel. Once you got outside of the river channel several hundred yards yesterday, it was way less than normal. Today, I could tell within the first 30 minutes; every one I rolled up to, they’d be crawling around on the bottom.”

On Day 2, whether he knew it or not, Lawrence adjusted by moving closer to the main channel to catch some key smallmouth. Plus, he was able to key his bag with three largemouth that day.

Fishing mostly in the 5- to 10-foot range, Lawrence used a prototype minnow from Jenko and did most of his work with a 3/16-ounce head, though he did use lighter and heavier models.

While it looked easy on stage, Lawrence said it was absolutely not.

“The last Toyota, it was really easy to catch them,” he said. “I could catch 60, 70 a day fairly easily. Not a lot of big ones, but I could catch almost every bass I saw. This week, it was not a challenge to find them, it was a challenge to trick them. It’s getting harder and harder to trick them everywhere, but that seems to be the deal now — they’re a lot harder to catch than they used to be.”

A rookie on the Tackle Warehouse Invitationals, Lawrence will be back in action (and no doubt sporting a live camera on MLFNOW!) in April on Kentucky Lake. After making a living guiding for the last six years, Lawrence has put his considerable skills to fishing full-time in 2024. So far, it’s been very successful.

“This takes a humongous amount of pressure off,” he said. “This is what we all dreamed of. My grandad and uncle were taking me when I was in diapers and pull ups. This is what I’ve always wanted to do. To have the start that we’ve had, my goodness — it’s been 16 months straight, everything seems to go right when it needs to. At some point, that ball is going to quit rolling in my direction, but until then, we’ll keep rocking with it.”

The top 10 pros on Kentucky Lake finished:

1st:        Jake Lawrence, Buchanan, Tenn., 15 bass, 63-2, $74,500 (includes $35,000 Phoenix MLF Bonus)
2nd:       Matt Robertson, Kuttawa, Ky., 15 bass, 61-13, $15,306
3rd:       Jordan Hartman, Benton, Ky., 15 bass, 54-2, $11,850
4th:        Harbor Lovin, New Concord, Ky., 15 bass, 52-6, $9,875
5th:        Clint Knight, Lewisburg, Ky., 15 bass, 51-5, $9,387
6th:        Drew Gill, Mount Carmel, Ill., 15 bass, 51-4, $7,900
7th:        Brad Jelinek, Lincoln, Mo., 15 bass, 50-11, $6,912
8th:        Hunter Fillmore, Waynesville, Ohio, 15 bass, 50-6, $5,925
9th:        Ethan Fields, Breese, Ill., 14 bass, 49-9, $4,937
10th:     Brent Anderson, Kingston Springs, Tenn., 15 bass, 49-3, $3,950

Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

Pro Taylor Umland of Carlock, Illinois, earned Thursday’s $500 Berkley Big Bass Award with a largemouth weighing in at 7 pounds, 13 ounces. The $500 Berkley Big Bass Award on Day 2 Friday was earned by pro Clint Knight of Lewisburg, Kentucky, who weighed in a 6-pound, 2-ounce bass.

Todd Adamitis of Glen Carbon, Illinois, won the Strike King Co-angler Division Saturday with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 40 pounds, 10 ounces. Adamitis took home the top co-angler prize package worth $33,500, including a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard motor.

For the win, Adamitis relied on a co-angler staple, a Carolina rig.

“I think 14 out of the 15 fish were on a Carolina rig, and my big kicker was on a swimbait,” he said. “It was a great three days. I felt comfortable out there. It’s a great event as a co-angler, especially if you’re out on the ledges or the bars. You can really fan cast everywhere, straight out of the back of the boat or to the right or to the left. You’ve got a lot to throw at. As long as you’re on that good rocky scratch, you just hold it there and work it really slow.”

Using a 3/4-ounce weight most days, and a 1-ounce weight in the wind on Day 3, Adamitis stuck with a Strike King Rage Bug for the duration, and tipped the tails with a little chartreuse dye. He also kept it sauced up.

“I was putting BaitFuel on the bait, every cast, almost,” he said. “I think I went through two things of BaitFuel.”

For his kicker on the last day, Adamitis used a Storm WildEye Swim Shad.

“Old-school, like you buy at Walmart,” he said. “That was the only one I had that was heavy enough, that I could get down there.”

The top 10 Strike King co-anglers on Kentucky Lake finished:

1st:        Todd Adamitis, Glen Carbon, Ill., 15 bass, 52-2, Phoenix 518 Pro boat w/115-hp Mercury outboard
2nd:       Ryan Stagner, Robertsville, Mo., 15 bass, 50-7, $4,938
3rd:       Ryan Steinhoff, Beulah, Colo., 13 bass, 49-12, $3,950
4th:        Anthony Bell, Jr., Cincinnati, Ohio, 12 bass, 44-12, $3,456
5th:        Dennis Young, Olathe, Kan., 10 bass, 44-5, $3,113
6th:        Chase Johnson, Quincy, Ill., 11 bass, 42-13, $2,469
7th:        Brant Gish, Evansville, Ind., 11 bass, 42-1, $1,975
8th:        Justin Hoffman, Hindsville, Ark., nine bass, 41-0, $1,728
9th:        Jim Eakin, Clarksville, Tenn., nine bass, 40-10, $1,481
10th:     Bo Bivins, Evansville, Ind., 10 bass, 40-4, $1,234

Brent Rumley of Hillsboro, Missouri, earned Thursday’s $150 Berkley Big Bass co-angler award with a 5-pound, 5-ounce bass, while the Day 2 $150 co-angler award on Friday went to Taylor Surly of Rogers, Arkansas, who boated a 6-pound, 11-ounce bass.

The Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats at Kentucky-Barkley Lakes was hosted by the Kentucky Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau. It was the first of three regular-season tournaments for the Toyota Series Plains Division. The next event for the Toyota Series Plains Division anglers will be the Toyota Series at Grand Lake, April 11-13, in Grove, Oklahoma. For a complete schedule of events, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com.

The 2024 Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats consists of six divisions – Central, Northern, Plains, Southern, Southwestern and the Western Division Presented by Tackle Warehouse – each holding three regular-season events, along with the International and Wild Card divisions. Anglers who fish in any of the six divisions or the Wild Card division and finish in the top 25 will qualify for the no-entry-fee Toyota Series Championship for a shot at winning up to $235,000 and a qualification to REDCREST 2025. The winning Strike King co-angler at the championship earns a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard. The 2024 Toyota Series Championship will be held Nov. 7-9 on Wheeler Lake in Huntsville, Alabama, and is hosted by the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Madison County Commission, and the Huntsville Sports Commission.

Proud sponsors of the 2024 MLF Toyota Series include: 7Brew, Abu Garcia, B&W Trailer Hitches, Berkley, BUBBA, E3, Epic Baits, FX Custom Rods, General Tire, Lew’s, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Onyx, Phoenix, Polaris, Power-Pole, Strike King, Suzuki, Tackle Warehouse, T-H Marine, Toyota and YETI.

For complete details and updated information visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular Toyota Series updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the MLF5 social media outlets at FacebookInstagram and YouTube.

About Major League Fishing

Major League Fishing (MLF) is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, producing more than 250 events annually at some of the most prestigious fisheries in the world, while broadcasting to America’s living rooms on CBS, Discovery Channel, Outdoor Channel, CBS Sports Network, World Fishing Network and on demand on MyOutdoorTV (MOTV). Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, the MLF roster of bass anglers includes the world’s top pros and more than 30,000 competitors in all 50 states and 17 countries. Since its founding in 2011, MLF has advanced the sport of competitive fishing through its premier television broadcasts and livestreams and is dedicated to improving the quality of life for bass through research, education, fisheries enhancement and fish care. 

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