Next year’s Elite Series schedule will be interesting because it offers diversity in types of water and the time of year we visit each one.
When I look at a tournament schedule, I look at the timing of each event. The 2014 dates should avoid the peak spawn about everywhere, although there will still be some spawning going on during the early ones. That gives anglers more options in how they fish; it’s no fun fishing four tournaments in a row that are all bed fishing or all ledge fishing.
We shouldn’t run into that next year, but then, Mother Nature will have the final say in that.
Because of the diversity, you could some new trends develop. Bassmaster events have always set tackle trends when the schedule offers diversity.
The season kicks off at Lake Seminole (March 13-16) in Georgia, a place we haven’t been for awhile. It’s got a lot of grass now and the fish populations are good. That tells me that we could run into multiple patterns and different techniques in play.
We leave there and go to the St. John’s River, a place we’ve been in recent years, although we are going a little later this year. Spawning fish will definitely be in play, but I look for other patterns to work well, too. I would expect the biggest bass of the season to be caught there.
I’m really looking forward to the next event at Table Rock (April 3-6). It could be a full blown sight fishing tournament or postspawn event, but the great thing is it has big largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass that could be in all phases. It also offers clear water down at the dam, stained water up river and good water in between. I’ve spent a lot of time there when visiting Bass Pro Shops so I’ll have to guard against getting caught up in past experiences and work harder to keep an open mind.
From there we go to Toledo Bend (May 1-4), a world class fishery. We are going there at a different time of year, so this could be a real challenge. It all depends on the kind of spring we have.
Arkansas' Lake Dardanelle (May 15-18) is next and will be a complete 180 from every stop we’ll have made at that point of the season. No two places are remotely similar to Dardanelle, which is an Arkansas River fishery with shallow, flooded vegetation and one of the best river bass populations in the country. The wild card there will be water levels. It could be clear or flooded.
Then it’s off to Tennessee’s Lake Chickamauga (June 11-15), a revived fishery that produced a lot of giant bass in other events last year thanks to a resurgence of grass. It’s very similar to Guntersville, plus it’s on the Tennessee River system where I’ve done well over the years. I’ve not fished the “Chick” since the early days of my career but look forward to seeing how it’s changed.
After Tennessee, we head north to a place most of us have never fished – the Delaware River (Aug. 7-10). I know nothing about it and frankly haven’t heard anything about it, which makes you wonder. It could be really tough or a diamond in the rough.
We follow that up with Cayuga Lake in New York, a Fingers Lake we’ve never fished. It has largemouth and smallmouth and should offer a great way to finish the regular season.
So, when you look at this schedule, you can see it offers a lot of different challenges which should make for an interesting Toyota Bassmaster Angler of Year race. Historically, that plays in my favor as I tend to do better when we go to new places or visit old places at a different time of year.
That gets me pumped up!