Elite Destinations: Clear Lake

When the 2008 Bassmaster Elite schedule was released to the pros, many immediately began filling a special tacklebox with crankbaits in preparation for this season's Bluegrass Brawl. That's because the diving lures ought to dominate the tournament if bass have moved to the river ledges the way they normally do in June.

There's no shortage of ledges, either, on this 160,000-acre Tennessee River impoundment that stretches across Tennessee and extends into Kentucky. The lake has been a favorite fishing destination for decades, and its reputation as one of the top bass fisheries in America is well deserved.

In addition to main river dropoffs, the pros also can fish shallow, stump-filled flats, rocky points, boat docks and even some scattered vegetation. A favorite pattern that may produce well if bass are late heading out to the ledges may be cranking some of the stumpy points that characterize both sides of the lake. If the water is up, flooded willows and buckbrush also may be worth trying, but if the lake level is low, a lot of shoreline cover will actually be out of the water.

Kentucky Lake has long been famous for its crappie fishing, and interestingly, much of the artificial cover put out to attract crappie also has become home to largemouth. Known as "stake beds" because of their construction, they're common throughout the lake but especially close to the marinas and resorts. Stake beds consist of dozens of boards or stakes attached to a base so they stand up vertically; they're always good places to toss a jig or plastic worm.


You can shop till you drop for antiques in Hazel, where more than 500 dealers are represented in 60,000 square feet of stores and malls. Dolls, jewelry, furniture and other collectibles are offered seven days a week. For the adventuresome, Land Between the Lakes is a national recreation area that features a planetarium, nature station, elk and bison prairie, hiking/biking trails, boat ramps, campgrounds and more. (www.kysportsauthority.com; www.lbl.org)