Soon 12 lucky Elite Series pros will arrive at Illinois' Lake Shelbyville for Toyota Trucks All-Star week. From a patterning standpoint, the lake isn't well known because it hasn't hosted top level tournaments. In other words, it doesn't have a national reputation for fishing "this way" or "that way." But it is a heavily fished tournament lake, and luckily some of the local and regional trails that fish it have reported their pattern information.
It's definitely possible to pattern Shelbyville with BassGold by looking at data from lakes of the same water type – in this case what BassGold calls a "lowland reservoir." That would give us a lot of good info. But because of that reported pattern information, we recently boiled down and input 90-plus Shelbyville patterns to the BassGold.com database. This allows us to take a little closer look at what seems to be an interesting lake.
On a BassGold Pattern Report for summer and early fall, the Macro Factors (generally where on a lake) bar graph shows what appears to be an even split between "shoreline" and "main lake offshore structure." But when you add in "main lake points," deeper areas of the lake get the nod.
When you surf the winning and placing (second-fifth) pattern details in BassGold, you can see that deeper patterns have been winning more of late. On the other hand, predominant local patterns don't seem to hold a lot of weight when it comes to winning Elite level tournaments.
Bass Fishing Hall of Famer and pattern guru Ken Cook said, "From a competitive standpoint this is great because it gives competitors the opportunity to compete in their own style in their choice of pattern locations. It looks like either [deep or shallow] could produce a winning catch."
The most mentioned cover in high finishes on Shelbyville has been wood, as in stumps, laydowns and brushpiles. "This Habitat Factor is about as solid a prediction for a winner as I've ever seen," Ken said. "This is typical of this type of reservoir with standing timber: It makes up the majority of the fish-holding cover, thus it produces the winning fish.
"Kind of like a 'Duh!' moment, but when you find wood along a drop off or ledge [the second-most cited structure], then you have the best of both worlds. My belief is that intersections of edges are key spots for finding bass."
Local stick Terry Brown of Wired2Fish.com fame knows the lake well and added that the All-Stars will find "a lot of unique rock. It's very different than any other body of water in Illinois. There are a lot of points and a lot of rock on the points – almost Table Rock-like rock." Along with many points and the coves to with them are "some big flats," he noted.
Based on the historical data in BassGold, you are 300 percent to 500 percent more likely to win – not finish high, but win – on Shelbyville fishing a jig. A quick surf of recent winning patterns in addition to historically winning patterns shows this to be true.
"That’s a little odd for this season," Ken said. "I wouldn't ignore this trend." He feels that's because the lake must have a healthy crawfish population, confirmed by Terry. Terry says shad and crawfish are the main forage, and feels the tournament will be won by a bait that mimics one of the two.
He also feels that the lake is now in more of an early fall pattern than in a late summer one, and that while fish will be caught shallow and deep, "the majority will be caught running the banks, in my opinion."
The "Weights By Month" graph in the Pattern Report shows that winning and placing weights this time of year average in the low to mid-teens per day. Terry said he feels that's spot on, with maybe as little as 12 pounds a day needed to win.
But with just 12 guys on the lake and recreational boat traffic almost nonexistent, we all feel the average weight could be on the higher end of that range, bearing in mind that the chances of catching multiple 5-plus-pounders are slim.
And don't forget that the field will be cut to four after Day Two, and those four anglers will move to Lake Decatur. Terry says Decatur is very shallow, like a bowl, and fishes much differently than Shelbyville.
Should Be Fun
"It should be a good tournament, "Ken said, “Each angler will be able to fish his strength with little room for excuses."
"I'm interested to see what the guys do," Terry added. "Local anglers have a tendency to get set in their ways. These guys don't have any preconceived notions. They're just going to go fishing."
With a database of more than 4,000 tournament patterns covering hundreds of lakes, BassGold.com – a B.A.S.S. partner – is the ultimate bass patterning tool. For a limited time you can get $5 off the BassGold.com annual registration price when you click here and use code BFB001 when you sign up. Don't forget to use the code! Note that BassGold offers a three-day free trial.