This week's Bassmaster BASSfest at Chickamauga will most likely be won offshore. Everyone knows that, even though that fact alone might make some competitors look for a shoreline bite – which was the logic used by the third-place finisher at the last major competition held at the lake, the June 2013 FLW Tour event.
But the other four top finishers in that event all fished offshore, just not necessarily how you might think. In other words, when most bass anglers hear "offshore," they think "cranking ledges." Not necessarily. Let's take a quick look at what BassGold.com says.
Sure enough, "main lake offshore" factors in 39 percent of tournament first-fifth finishes this time of year on the Chick. Add in main lake points and it goes up to 51 percent.
The rest is distributed between upriver (12 percent), creeks (17 percent), large bays/coves (18 percent) and the shoreline.
Surfing through BassGold's pattern details shows that while offshore main lake structure is productive, the depth and type of that structure varies, in part because so many good spots on that lake are community holes.
It might be a shallow (6-foot) offshore grassy hump. It might be a ledge. It might be a bar or rockpile. It might be brush in 20-plus feet. Over several days, it might be all of the above.
While umbrella rigs were allowed in the FLW tournament, only the winner used one – although other people who finished outside the top five also did. In other words, it wasn't the bait or rig so much as the location and the particular cast on the structure.
While BassGold shows that several different baits work – common for a riverine reservoir this time of year – the winningest baits aren't crankbaits. They're jigs.
Crankbaits are second-most-productive in wins and high finishes, and worms (usually big worms) are as productive overall as crankbaits but don't account for any major wins this month.
Looking at the bait variety, it seems like slower-moving baits are your best bet.
Check out BassGold.com, a B.A.S.S. partner. Like your depthfinder, the more time you spend with it, the more you'll get out of it. Now get FREE pattern recommendations at BassGold.com – and if you subscribe, save 15 percent on the one-year price by using code bass14 (case sensitive) when you sign up.