3. Will the shallow bite be a factor? — Luke Clausen believes you can catch fish from depths of 2 feet to 32 feet on Chickamauga this week, and he plans to explore that shallow bite a bit.
"Everybody thinks this is going to be strictly a ledge tournament," Clausen said. "But a lot of fish live shallow here too. I fished a tournament a month later than this last year and I caught 20 pounds off the bank the first day. Now it's going to be really hard to win shallow, but I'm definitely going to fish shallow some."
While some people think it will take an average of 24 to 26 pounds a day to win this tournament, DeFoe thinks the winning weight will be closer to 80 pounds, maybe less. And 20 pounds a day in shallow water will get you there.
"It's very hard to be consistent in these types of places," DeFoe said.
It might be easier to attain some consistency if you go to the deeper bite on the ledges after the field is cut from 140 to the top 60 before Saturday. At least you won't have to fish in a crowd the first two days, if you concentrate in the shallows.
4. Will lure choice make a difference on the ledges? — If you had the community holes to yourself, you could catch bass on a variety of baits – everything from crankbaits to football head jigs to big worms and swimbaits. But in a crowd of anglers, a particular lure can make all the difference.
"That's going to be a big key, finding something a little bit different from what everybody else is doing," Palaniuk said. "But you are limited as to what you can do by how many guys are around you. You might just have to pick and choose your battles wisely as to what you can actually do.
"Lure choice is somewhat luck of the draw, as to where the fish are positioned and what angle you have to fish them."
5. When will the bite turn on? Current is the biggest key in the Tennessee River chain of lakes. With the recent rains in the area, the Tennessee Valley Authority is more likely to be pulling some water this week through both the Watts Bar Dam above the lake and Chickamauga Dam. During those periods of heavy current, bass fishing gets much easier. The key is being in the right spot at the right time.
"Usually the fish bite in very small windows (of time)," Clausen said. "It's really hard to predict. It could be 10 o'clock; it could be noon. But there's always going to be a window during the day when the majority of the fish are going to be caught off one little place."
That's one more big factor in the mind games that will be played among the 140 anglers here this week. Do you stay in one place and wait for the magic window, or do you leave and look for magic somewhere else?