The bass will be in their summer patterns during the week of the BASSfest. DeFoe believes competitors that claim the top places during the Elite Series tournament will be fishing main lake ledges.
Productive ledges will range from 8 to 30 feet deep, and the bass should snap up crankbaits, spoons, jigs, Carolina rigs and large Texas rigged worms.
“There aren’t as many ledges at Chickamauga as at places like Pickwick and Kentucky lakes,” DeFoe said. “The fishermen are going to be bunched up on the best spots.”
Given the crowded fishing conditions and the postspawn bass, DeFoe expects the catches to be lighter than earlier in the year. However, he still predicts that the winner will average over 20 pounds a day.
There will also be plenty of shallow bass caught from the grass, DeFoe adds. Most of the vegetation will have yet to top out and mat on the surface. Topwater lures and swimbaits will score well here. Flippin’ docks and downed trees will also produce, as will fishing current seams on the upper end of the lake.
“I don’t think you can win fishing shallow, but a lot of guys will finish in the money that way,” DeFoe said.
The tournament begins on Wednesday, a day earlier than normal. After the second day of competition on Thursday, the field will be cut to the top 50 anglers. Those top 50 anglers will have Friday off to be available at BASSfest to meet fans at the expo and give seminars.
The anglers that did not make the top 50 will compete in a second chance tournament on Friday on Nickajack Lake. The top 10 will be allowed to fish Chickamauga Saturday with the top 50 anglers. That field will be cut to the Top 12 for the finale on Sunday.
Other happenings at BASSfest will be a Carhartt Bassmaster College Series tournament, plus vendors, crafters, concessions and more. It is sure to be an unprecedented celebration of fishing.