Fantasy Fishing: Chickamauga expected to be super 'Gross'

There's still time to sign up for Rapala Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing. This year there are more opportunities to win, even if you missed the first two tournaments of the year.

I have really high hopes for the rescheduled Bassmaster Elite Series event coming up on Lake Chickamauga. With everyone talking about how Guntersville is going to go off any day now, and with Chick being just up the river a bit, and another big bass factory, I think there is great potential for this event to be a wide-open slugfest. As long as the forecasted rain doesn’t make things overly dirty, I think giants will be brought to the scales. Don’t believe me? Three largemouths right around 11 pounds each were weighed at the Dayton Boat Dock this last week.

There is a fair amount of tournament data to review if you are interested, but be aware that most of those tournaments happened later in April to June, which tend to be a bit more offshore-focused than the bite that I would expect for this week’s event.

Looking at the forecast, it looks to be relatively. Stable and moderate temperatures are predicted as the Elites roll into the event, which I think will help hold those big fish in a prespawn pattern. Those anglers who know that and find the right spots during practice will be able to capitalize on big females when they are at their heaviest and hungriest.

In my mind, the smart play is to build your Rapala Fantasy Fishing roster around anglers that excel at prespawn power fishing, like to fish water with some color in it and have TVA experience. If you are high in the standings, don’t take too many low percentage risks, look for smaller calculated risks to move up in the standings.

BUCKET A: GROSS

Picking Buddy Gross this week is as chalk of a pick as you are going to find. Sitting at 93.5% for the year so far, I am perfectly content in going safe in Bucket A. There are a ton of great anglers in this bucket that are more than capable of taking home the blue trophy at Chickamauga. All that aside, Gross is a Top 10 machine on Chickamauga in tournaments, and his presenting sponsor is Fish Lake Chickamauga and he has enough experience on this lake to handle any conditions the anglers will face.

Prespawn Alternate: If you are looking for an angler that has a lot of tournament experience on Lake Chickamauga at lower ownership, take a hard look at Kyle Welcher who has fished several Triple-A and local events on these water with several successful events. If you want more info, go to Welcher’s YouTube Channel and search Chickamauga to see him at work.

BUCKET B: LESTER

Based on tournament history, John Cox seems like the obvious pick for Bucket B. Two things make me nervous about Cox. First, most of his previous tourney experience is slightly later in the year, and he likes to fish for fish he can see. That style may not work in March. Secondly, I think there is an outside chance that Cox may not fish the full day every day at this event because of a potential scheduling conflict because of the date changes. That being said, I am super confident to keep riding Brandon Lester for fantasy fishing. He is a TVA stud and all the stuff he did to do well on Guntersville will likely carry over to Chick.

Prespawn Alternate: Wes Logan is a young talented angler from Alabama and was ninth in the 2017 Bass Pro Shops Southern Open on Chickamauga. So, if you find yourself needing to make up ground in Fantasy Fishing, take a hard look at Logan. Still not sure, Logan has cashed a check in his last seven B.A.S.S. tournaments in a row and was the 2019 Bassmaster Central Open points title and had Top 10s in three of four events!

BUCKET C: LOWEN

Bucket C is a bucket where I am going to stray away from a relatively heavy favorite. I just have a really good feeling based on all the forecasted rain and this time of year there should be big fishing trying to get shallow and eat and Bill Lowen is the guy to capitalize on these opportunities. I think for these conditions, he is a pretty safe and strong pick this week.

Prespawn Alternate: Gerald Swindle has to be feeling like a caged lion, watching all the other anglers fish the Bassmaster Classic on his home lake. I look for him to be ready to rock and roll on Chickamauga which can definitely fish similar to Guntersville at times. Not to mention, with all the water in the TVA, G-Man is fully capable of changing with the conditions.

BUCKET D: HAMILTON

Skylar Hamilton lives just 90 minutes from one end of Chickamauga, and I expect that he will be well suited to have a strong tournament. He showed out during the 2014 BASSFest event and I believe his fishing style is more conducive to March fishing then a summertime event.

Prespawn Alternate: Hunter Shryock is as comfortable as anyone in this field fishing for shallow largemouth bass, and he finished third in a 2017 Bassmaster Open event on The Chick. I think he is a solid safe play and should be a rock-solid pick.

BUCKET E: WEIDLER

Bill Weidler has a fair amount of experience on Chickamauga with a decent track record of success with solid money finishes, and he loves to catch them on a swim jig, which should be a solid presentation for this event. I feel he is the best blend of percentages owned and likeliness to weigh solid bags each day.

Prespawn Alternate: I think Lee Livesay actually has more upside than my pick, but a little more risk. The same could be said for Zaldain, I just think the risk to reward ratio is even higher. Both of these guys have the big bait mentality and the ability to hit it out of the park, so if you are looking to make up ground, take a hard look at Lee.