Ranger Classic

May 10, 2017
Sisk and Estes Leave the Ranger Classic Victorious

Following a double-delayed tournament, an over 150-mile round trip and over thirty bites, Marty Sisk and Jeremy Estes won the 2017 Ranger Classic with a five-fish limit totaling 25.45 pounds.

The originally scheduled two-day event, which was postponed back-to-back due to extremely high winds and then held on Sunday as a one-day event, made for a giddy 243-boat field full of USA BASSIN’s top-qualifying anglers. These competitors were, in no doubt, ready, willing and wanting to finally hit the waters of Kentucky and Barkley Lakes to bring closure to each of their successful seasons. And after they were ultimately let loose to give it their all in only eight hours, the team of Sisk and Estes came out on top after shattering over 25 pounds of Deep South Kentucky Lake bass.

The duo holds high credit to the settled winds as the main factor that gave them the ability to dial in their winning technique and pattern during the day of the tournament. Because of the relatively calm waters, they were not only able to safely and quickly make the over hour-long nautical trip – from the Kentucky Lake Dam Marina in Gilbertsville, Ky. to New Johnsonville, Tenn. – they were also able to hold steady to their holes once they reached them.

“It's where the big ones live, and you don't have a tremendous amount of people who are willing to make that run,” Estes, said “If you have a chance to go, you have a better chance of winning a one-day down there than probably anywhere on the lake.”

Once the two reached their destination, they resisted the temptation of pounding flooded bushes and dropped the trolling motor in more open waters.

“We love to flip, and there’s nobody who likes to flip better than us,” Sisk of Evansville, Ind., said, “If it would have been a two-day, we probably would have flipped, but as a one-day, we knew we couldn't win it like that.”

Fishing what was right rather than what Sisk and Estes favored rewarded them immediately, as they were able to quickly fill their limit.

“We caught our first fish at 7:30 [a.m.] and it was as soon as we got there, and had a limit by 7:35 [a.m],” Sisk said, “We had about 15 pounds by 11 in the morning, but mainly did most of our damage in the afternoon.”

The duo targeted the depths of 10 to 12 feet to coax their bites for the majority of the day using lures and boat positioning that are a usual combo for the ledge fishing style of the fishery. 

“We were cranking a Strike King 6XD right out in front of spawning pockets on the first ledges or points in the bays,” Sisk said, “We also caught quite a few fish on a Slong’s 3/4-ounce PB&J-colored football head jig.”

Depending the water clarity, Sisk and Estes would throw a chartreuse and blue 6XD (for dirtier water) and a sexy shad 6XD(for more clear water) to catch their fish while using the jig laced with an attractant to fire up non-active fish.

“I make my own attractant called Strike Force, and we always use it on our jigs,” Said Estes, “I think that it definitely helped us whenever the school was not firing. It also helped us land a few of the key ones I believe.”

Upon their arrival at the scale, the two were unsure that they would take top honors, however, their total weight was just enough to claim the W, with them beating out the runner-ups by 15/100th of a pound. For their efforts, Sisk and Estes earned the rights to a brand new Ranger Z519 powered by a 225 HP Mercury Marine outboard.

“It’s unbelievable,” Estes said, “We've knocked on the door several times during the Ranger Classic. We’ve come in third one time and fourth in another and it just feels amazing to come back and earn the win.”

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