We have an Elite Series tournament coming up in June on Chickamauga Lake out of Dayton, Tennessee. I was down there looking around a couple of weeks ago and what I found absolutely took my breath away. I can’t remember being so excited about an upcoming event.
Here’s what I found:
I arrived on a Saturday somewhere around Noon. There was a small tournament weighing in at the time. I’m guessing they started early in the morning and only fished for a few hours. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen sacks of bass like they we carrying around. I didn’t pay much attention to the final weights but I can tell you that they were heavy. Their bags were as big, or bigger, than any you’ll see in one of our tournaments.
As soon as I launched my boat, I found active bass. You didn’t need your electronics to find them. All you had to do was go up to a bank — any bank — and start throwing a spinnerbait. It was bite after bite, fish after fish. I felt like a kid turned loose in a toy store.
Later in the afternoon, I saw a small male bass near a bed. I watched him for a few minutes and, sure enough, along came the female. I’d estimate her weight at around 6 pounds. But then I saw something else moving up, towards the bank. It was another female.
I’m not kidding or exaggerating when I tell you she dwarfed the 6-pounder. I’d guess her weight to be at least 12 pounds, maybe even bigger than that.
She never did move up on the nest, and I wasn’t able to catch her. That’s OK as far as I’m concerned. Just seeing a bass that big outside of Florida made my whole day, at least until I started back to the ramp.
On my way back, I passed by a riprap bank. It was fairly long and, to my surprise, there were guys catching bass from the bank near it. They weren’t inexperienced anglers, nor were they crappie fishermen. They were serious bass anglers with top-of-the-line tackle and baits. Apparently it was easier to walk the bank than it was to launch their boats.
And all that was just on a short Saturday.
Looking back on the whole trip, I can’t ever remember feeling the way I did. It was truly extraordinary. I can only imagine what it’ll be like when over 100 Elite Series anglers hit that water.
I don’t have any experience on Chickamauga so I can’t say what the postspawn bite will be like. I suppose it’s possible that the lake will get tougher but that will only slow us down. It won’t stop us.
A lot of times you’ll see lakes like this produce for a year or two and then slow down. If I were a recreational angler, I’d get down there this year. I wouldn’t wait. You don’t need a big, fancy boat to fish it, either. There’s a ramp on every creek, and the lake is easily navigable in a smaller aluminum rig.
Go get them, guys!