The Bassmaster Elite Series will bring its ninth tournament of the season — the Tennessee Triumph presented by Longhorn — to Old Hickory Lake out of Hendersonville, Tenn., marking BASS' seventh visit to the lake.
Fishing fans can watch the on-the-water action from the June 26-29 Elite Series event on The Bassmasters, which airs Saturday, July 5, at 9 a.m. ET on ESPN2.
Daily weigh-ins and launches will take place at Sanders Ferry Park, 100 Sanders Ferry Rd., Hendersonville. Launches will begin at 6 a.m. CT while weigh-ins will begin at 2:30 p.m. CT.
Old Hickory will play host to the Women's Bassmaster Tour presented by Academy Sports & Outdoors this week as the third event of the WBT season takes place Thursday through Saturday out of Hendersonville.
OId Hickory, a Cumberland River impoundment, has been the site of four other pro-level BASS tournaments. One was a Bassmaster Top 100 event in October 1996, won by Missouri's Chad Brauer — son of Bassmaster Elite Series pro Denny Brauer — with a three-day total of almost 50 pounds.
Fresh off his victory at the Bluegrass Brawl on Kentucky Lake, three-time Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., is excited about the possibilities of another big win in 2008, this time on Old Hickory Lake. In the three pro tournaments held at Hickory Lake since 1996, VanDam has three top-10 finishes — eighth (1999), fifth (1998) and ninth (1996).
Other Elite Series pros who have enjoyed top-10 finishes in pro events at Old Hickory: 2008 Bassmaster Classic winner Alton Jones of Waco, Texas (fifth, 1996); four-time Classic winner Rick Clunn of Ava, Mo. (second, '96); Tommy Biffle of Wagoner, Okla. (fifth, '99), three-time Angler of the Year Mark Davis of Mount Ida, Ark. (sixth, '99; eighth, '98; ), Davy Hite of Prosperity, S.C. (seventh, '99) and Ray Sedgwick of Cross, S.C. (10th, '99; sixth, '96).
While he thinks the Tennessee Triumph will produce some big bags, VanDam doesn't think the weights will be similar to those at the two most recent Elite stops: Wheeler Lake in Decatur, Ala., and Kentucky Lake in Guntersville, Ky.
"We're there at a much different time of year than what I've fished there before," VanDam said. "But it's like a miniature Wheeler or Kentucky lake, it's got a lot of river to it on the upper end and a lot of ledges and drops on the lower end. It's a typical summertime deal, so I'm sure there'll be a good offshore bite — the lake used to have a lot of grass in it too, in the midsection, so that's always a factor there, too."
VanDam predicts that it will take about 15 pounds a day during the four-day Tennessee Triumph to have a shot at winning.
"It being right there near Nashville it gets a lot of pressure," VanDam said. "For four days — you're going to see some big limits there, but it's going to be hard to catch 20-plus-pound bags every day."
While angling for a first-place prize of $100,000, the Elite pros also are in the thick of the Trail to the Trophy with just three tournaments to go. After last week's Bluegrass Brawl on Kentucky Lake out of Gilbertsville, Ky., VanDam leads the Angler of the Year points race with 2,043 after his victory on the weekend. His top threat for the $250,000 top prize is Todd Faircloth of Jasper, Texas, who fell to second in AOY points after the weekend but is just 65 points behind VanDam.
"You know, I think about it from the first day of the first tournament of the season," VanDam said. "But there's a lot of fishing to go. It's nice to be in the lead, I've had a couple of good weeks in a row, but, as I saw last year, a lot of things can happen … "
In the race to qualify for the 2009 Bassmaster Classic, Bernie Schultz of Gainesville, Fla., is on the bubble in 39th place with 1,442 points in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. Mark Menendez of Paducah, Ky., (1,437 points) and Jared Lintner of Arroyo Grande, Calif., (1,421) are lurking in 40th and 41st, respectively.
Live, streaming video of the Tennessee Triumph's daily weigh-ins begins at 3:30 p.m. ET on Bassmaster.com. Sunday's activities include live streaming video at 3 p.m. of Hooked Up, hosted by BASS emcee Keith Alan and ESPN Outdoors personalities Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona. The show will preview the final weigh-in.