Duke Jenkel Wins Lake of the Ozarks - Costa Series (Central)

Discussion in 'Tournaments' started by TW_Staff, Oct 12, 2016.

  1. TW_Staff

    TW_Staff Administrator

    Duke Jenkel's Pattern, Baits & Gear

    Duke Jenkel had wrapped up a miserable day of practice last Tuesday in advance of the Lake of the Ozarks Central FLW Series. He got back to the house he was sharing with Scott Suggs and Dan Morehead and the conversation naturally shifted to fishing.

    "How'd you do today," Morehead asked Jenkel as they fired up the grill to prepare dinner. Jenkel, whose given name is Derek, didn't want to talk much about his day as it had produced just one keeper bite. With one day left before the start of the tournament, Jenkel was all but spun out. Morehead, a veteran pro, sensed Jenkel's frustration and tried to help steer him in a different direction.

    "He suggested I change sections of the lake," Jenkel said, "and if I didn't have one that I wanted to go to, he suggested the up river section. He said the fish had been pretty cooperative up there."

    At the very least, it gave Jenkel something new to explore and possibly expand on. "If he doesn't tell me that I'm still flopping around on it," he added. Rather than rig tackle the Wednesday before the start of a tournament as is customary, Jenkel was back on the water and within three hours of pecking around the part of the lake Morehead suggested, he'd found several areas that he felt could be part of a productive pattern.

    Ultimately, Jenkel zeroed in on marina docks and isolated docks halfway to three-quarters of the way back into creeks. He relied on a trio of baits Ð a Texas-rigged finesse worm, a jig and a tube Ð to capture the victory with 52-05 over three days. His 18-03 effort on the final day catapulted him from fifth to the biggest win of his career.

    "It's beyond a shadow of a doubt my biggest win," said Jenkel, who hails from Pinckneyville, Ill. "I came close to winning a PAA event [he finished 2nd]. This is my biggest win for sure. For once, the ball rolled in the hoop instead of out."

    Jenkel's experience at Lake of the Ozarks was limited, but he had competed in a BFL Regional there last October so he had some inkling as to how the lake might set up in the early fall.

    "I still had trails and waypoints and figured if I was struggling, I'd plug some of those in," he said. Prior to the final day when he acted on Morehead's tip, Jenkel described his practice as "miserable." The water was warmer than anticipated (mid 70s), but once he discovered the key ingredients to his pattern the day before tournament started, he hoped he could build on it.

    "I felt like I'd developed a pattern," he said. "I had an idea what the fish were doing, but I wasn't sure where it would go down. I had an idea how to approach the day of fishing."

    He said the key elements he discovered in practice were the presence of bait fish around docks situated on flatter banks about halfway back in creeks.

    "I know it sounds ultra simplistic," he said, "but if you got back there and found an isolated dock and hit a certain depth of water, you could tell it might be good." He caught keepers out of four different areas using the same criteria on the final day and decided he'd run with it during the tournament.


    At the start of the tournament, Jenkel never imagined he was on the winning fish. There was a front that brought some rain and wind last Thursday that ended a string of stable, sunny days in practice. He started day 1 of the tournament trying to plan for the worst as he opted to start in a creek that he had fished last fall because it had a marina in it where he figured he could seek shelter if the thunderstorms turned violent.

    "I hadn't made a cast in there," he said. "I started there strictly based on history. I'd caught some fish in there last year. It was about a mile from where I wanted to start.

    "I knew that creek had some fish in there, but I also knew I'd have a place to get out of the weather at least. The weather was moving fast." He applied what he'd discovered in practice to that area and came out with a limit by 10:15 a.m. He fished two other areas and totaled eight keeper bites that day.

    "I truly felt like I had pattern to run," he said. "It was matter of knowing if I'd run into enough of them. The quality was pretty astounding." After starting with a topwater in the rainy conditions, he stuck with flipping a jig tipped with a creature bait trailer and a tube on day 1 and eventually culled up to 14-04.

    "It put my nerves at ease," he said. "Compared to practice, I was 10 feet off the ground. I went from zero to hero in my mind. I knew it wasn't enough weight, but I was pleased with how the day had started."

    The rains stopped for day 2, but the clouds hung around and that prompted Junkel to start with a topwater again for the first hour. He opted to scrap that after watching his co-angler land three 3-pounders with a flipping rod. He returned to the same starting area from day 1, but went another hour without a bite. He had considered leaving before he made a switch to a big finesse worm on a shaky-head jig.

    After breaking off in some brush, he changed to a Texas-rigged finesse worm. He started to pitch that around the same docks and within three hours he had a limit.

    "On day 1, they weren't really tight on the docks, but maybe the fishing pressure or weather caused them to get tighter to the cover on day 2," he said. "They were tucked back under the docks and were in the center of some slips."

    He also started to learn which dock slips had brush under them and he found one dock corner to be markedly better than others. "I had one corner of one dock that produced two 4s, a 3 1/2 and a 3, all within five feet of the corner," he said. "There was a little gap in the floats and a little bit of brush under that one."

    He wound up with 19-14 and climbed into fifth place after day 2. He returned to the marina to start the final day and within the first half hour, the sun had started to come out and he caught a 4-pounder and a 5-pounder.

    "At that point, I was like, 'Let's not get in a hurry to leave,'" he joked. After an hour-long lull, he caught a chunky 15-incher that proved to be his smallest keeper of the week. Another 45-minute lull prompted him to think about leaving, but he wanted to make one more pass by the dock corner that had been so productive. He skipped his worm under the dock and when he picked his rod up, there was another 4-pounder attacked to it.

    "I don't know what's there, but it's the best corner of any dock I've fished in my life," he said. He finished his limit with a 2 3/4-pounder before noon, which proved to be his last keeper of the day.

    "I figured I was a 5-pounder away from wining," he said. "It never happened. I drove the whole way back to the ramp thinking I'd let it slip away."

    As the final-day weigh-in proceeded, other finalists began to approach Jenkel and offer their congratulations. It was an uneasy feeling, he said. "When Dion (Hibdon) came up to me said, 'Congrats, bub,'" Jenkel said, "I started to get a sense that I may have pulled this off."

    Winning Pattern:

    Jenkel said most of the docks that were the most productive had between 5 and 9 feet of water under them. "You needed to get around somewhat shallower water, but 8 feet was the magic number," he said. "I wanted shallower water toward the bank with a flatter bank.

    The presence of bait was huge, too. When you got into a creek and saw a couple fish busting bait in the middle, you knew it was the right spot." He figured at least 10 of the fish he weighed in came out of that marina, which he later learned was a release site for the Anglers In Action Big Bass Bash, which took place Oct. 1-2.

    "There was no doubt some of them looked beat up, but they weren't all released fish I was catching," he said. "Some were pretty and green." On day 2, Jenkel realized other competitors fishing in the same area weren't having the same success that he was. He was able to go behind other boats and catch qualify fish.

    "Guys were asking me if I was getting bites," he said. "I wasn't getting a ton of bites, but I realized they weren't putting their baits in the same places as I was. I think the fish were pretty aggressive on day 1 with that front coming through and guys thought they'd bite well in there all day.

    "On day 2, things tightened up and as I paid more attention to how other guys were fishing, they were pitching up into the same places, but they weren't catching them. Some guys were beat up between the ears."

    Winning Gear:

    Worm gear: 7'1" heavy-action Powell Max 3D casting rod, Lew's Tournament Pro casting reel, 15-pound Seaguar InvizX fluorocarbon line, 5/16-oz. unnamed worm weight, 4/0 Gamakatsu round-bend worm hook, Zoom Magnum Trick Worm (red bug and watermelon candy).

    Jig gear: 7'7" heavy-action Powell Max 3D casting rod, same reel, same line (25-pound), 1/2-oz. Lunker Lure Limit Series jig (Cumberland craw), Strike King Rage Tail Bug trailer (watermelon red). He also flipped a 4" Gambler tube (green-pumpkin blue) under a 5/16-oz. weight with a 4/0 Gamakatsu heavy cover flipping hook.

    Main factor: "I was fishing a way I was very comfortable with. I'm typically a shallow-water guy, very target-oriented. Pitching and flipping is something I like to do and something I'm okay at. A lot of Illinois fisheries are pretty tough so even when I had a lull, I felt like was around the right fish. It didn't spin me out. I kept my head down and kept at it."

    Performance edge: "On the final day, there was a poker run on the lake and it seemed like every 30- and 40-foot boat in the world was on the water. I run a Phoenix and I couldn't be more pleased with how it handled the rough water."

    Lake Of The Ozarks Winning Pattern BassFan 10/11/16 (Todd Ceisner)

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