Let me say right up front that I’m not at all disappointed about our switch from Fort Gibson Lake to Lake Tenkiller for the 2019 Cherokee Casino Tahlequah Bassmaster Elite.
Here’s my thinking…
I didn’t prefish Fort Gibson at all. When I had the time it was early in the year. I figured that the conditions would be so different I wouldn’t learn much, and in the back of my mind I wondered about the conditions — all the water and the dam situation. So when our tournament was moved I wasn’t surprised, and like I said, I wasn’t disappointed.
But Tenkiller is a new lake to me. That’s never a good thing, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing either. From what I’ve been able to learn the water’s fairly clear, smallmouth rule and it’ll offer up plenty of action for a professional level tournament.
The only thing that concerns me about it is that it’s small. At just under 13,000 acres we’re all going to know what’s going on with all the other guys. And we’ll be able to cover it in three days of practice. It won’t take long for our competitors to figure things out, almost all of them. When that happens the lake will probably fish small and the boats will end up close together. The fish will quickly feel the pressure.
However, that’s a two edged sword. On the one hand it separates the anglers quickly. When there are several boats in one area it doesn’t take long for someone to figure out something that’s just a little bit different. That little difference will let him catch them while the other guys are struggling.
On the other hand, though, the current crop of Bassmaster Elite Series anglers are true professionals. There won’t be any hole-jumpin’ and there won’t be very many, if any, arguments over what water belongs to which angler.
Taking all that into consideration, I’m thinking that on the third and fourth day the fishing will get tough, and the weights will drop. There’s nothing wrong with that, though. A tough finish is what this sport is all about. Anybody can catch them when they’re fresh and jumping in the boat. A professional is supposed to catch them when they aren’t.
Another thing that’s great about this switch is that only a few of our anglers have ever fished Tenkiller. And, because the switch was make late in the schedule there’s no opportunity to scout it out because it’s already off-limits. The lake is new water to almost all of us.
That makes for a really fair tournament. It’ll be wide open from the first day to the last day. We’re all looking at unknown water when we launch our boats on the first day of practice. How does it get any better than that?
Overall, this might be the best, or at least one of the best, tournaments of the year. That’s especially true considering that the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year race is so tight. I’m looking forward to it.