Something for all

Andy Crawford just phoned in this update from the Chester Frost State Park area of the lower end of the lake So far, he's covered three anglers, all of them fishing a different technique.

Taku Ito is fishing along a shoreline, targeting isolated rock and wood. Austin Felix is carrying over a tactic from what he used last week at Santee Cooper, which was focusing on docks in creeks. Meanwhile, Cory Johnston is flipping and frogging in heavy vegetation. The latter tactic is in play with many of the anglers, who are betting on the come as the sun reappears.

There are other tactics going on, from wacky rigging to chatterbait fishing. The sum of the whole is the hopes of shaking the junk fishing dilemma, and having the better option of drilling down to one or two tactics.

Settled on a big flat

We’ve settled in on Stetson Blaylock, Chad Pipkens and Cory Johnston. All fishing off a big flat on the lower end.

As soon as we pulled up Blaylock landed a keeper. Nothing huge but on what promises to be a tough day a great start.

Flurry report

Stop 5 has produced two quick bites for Livesay. The Whiskey Myers Pro is settling into a rhythm now and settling down now that he’s got two fish in the boat.

Lots of work left to do.

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Simple didn't last long

Well, “simple” didn’t last long. After a couple of quick stops, five more rods appeared on the deck and Junk Fishing 101 has started. We’ve got a topwater rig, a punching rig, a jig, a frog or two and a jerk plug going.

Livesay, well below the Classic cut line, is trying to salvage what’s left of the season. “It’s been one of those years,” said the Lake Fork Guide. “I’ve had my share of bad luck this year but I haven’t gone out and consistently caught’em either.

Pressure factor

Chickamauga Lake has been hammered by fishing pressure, beginning when my home state lifted the "quarantine in place" mandate for us. That happened the first week of May, when I came here to do a content package with Carl Jocumsen. After three boat ramps, we finally found a parking spot. The pressure has been relentless ever since. Every day is Saturday, and that includes the weekend tournament schedule that added to the pressure.

But wait, there is more. Next week, specifically Wednesday and Thursday, is the Angler's Choice Championship. I was told by one of our guys there will be 230 boats in that derby, and many are already here. I saw many out-of-state boats yesterday at the ramp, while doing the Dock Talk. With the weekend coming up, I suspect we'll see even more boats arriving to practice.

Card on the board

The BASSTrakk leaderboard is already lighting up; so much for the gloom and doom predictions from yesterday's Dock Talk.

Photographer Shane Durrance is on Brandon Card, in this cell phone picture proudly holding the largemouth weighing 3 pounds, 12 ounces that just went into his livewell.

Key to the spot is location. Card is slowly fishing a wacky rig along a bluff bank, targeting isolated laydowns used as ambush points by the largemouth, as the baitfish move into the creek.

What else is key is this: Shane's boat driver, a local tournament angler, said "nobody ever fishes here." Why is that a big deal? Because this lake has been through more pressure than normal.

Last spring, and after the COVID home quarantine regulations were lifted here, I came to fish with Carl Jocumsen. We finally found a boat ramp with an available parking spot after visiting the third ramp, and that was on a Wednesday. The fishing pressure has been intense, so Card's choice of spots, as in getting away from the areas prone to fishing pressure, might be a good thing.

Coincidentally, this was Card's first keeper of the week. 

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What to watch for

Just before the takeoff hour the anticipated cold front passed over the Dayton, Tenn., area, and with it came a steep drop in temperatures. It's currently 54 degrees and the rain has moved east. Behind it the temperatures are noticeably dropping.

Today's forecast calls for a high of 63 with northerly winds up to 10 mph. Tonight it gets downright chilly, with a low of 39, setting up the scenario for the final days of the event. Saturday the daytime temp reaches 65 with calm winds, and the nighttime low drops to 44. Sunday and Monday the highs are 70 and 75, respectively, with nighttime temps in the low 50s.

What's that mean for today? Lee Livesay has a good idea and here it is.

"This rain will soggy up the crispiness of the cheese mats if you are frogging," he said. "The flipping bite is going to improve some, and the weather change is going to push the fish down into the mats."

Livesay went on to say he also believes the weather change will benefit the guys fishing the steep vertical bluffs, which border transitions to chunk rock banks. He also said the frogging bite will improve later in the afternoon.

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Livesay keeping is simple

Good Morning from Chickamauga Lake and The Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite!

Simple and relaxed are the words of the day with Whiskey Myers Pro Lee Livesay. Simple in that he’s started the day with only one rod on the deck of the boat and relaxed in that he said, following a very difficult practice, that we're just going to fish and have fun today.

Stop one is not far from takeoff. Should be a fun day regardless. Morning rain should be moving out within the next hour or so.

A weather change might help

Elite Series rookie Buddy Gross is the angler with the most local knowledge of Chickamauga Lake. But there's another angler in this 85-man field with extensive knowledge of this 36,240-acre impoundment on the Tennessee River. Australian Carl Jocumsen and his wife, Kayla, have been living 15 minutes from the lake for the past year. And he's never seen bass fishing any tougher than it has been during the three days of practice this week.

"This has been the worst three days I've ever had on Chickamauga, and among the worst three practices I've ever had for a tournament," Jocumsen said yesterday.

It was raining this morning at takeoff time, preceding a cold front that is forecast to drop temperatures into the lower 40s tonight. That could be a good thing, according to Jocumsen.

"It can't get any worse," he said. "We need something to change."

The fishing conditions are baffling to someone like Jocumsen, who has fished all four seasons at Chickamauga and caught bass in all conditions. His personal best largemouth came here - 10 pounds, 10 ounces, in March. He has caught another one over 10 pounds, three or four 9-pounders and numerous bass over 8 pounds from Chickamauga in the short time he's lived here.

"If someone catches 15 pounds a day this week, we should bow down to him because he's a fishing god," Jocumsen said with a laugh.

But today is a new day and a weather change might be the remedy for Chickamauga Lake's ills.

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