Former Bassmaster Elite Series competitor Chip Porché began fishing Lake Tenkiller with his dad at age 8. He now works for Tulsa-based Dynamic Sponsorships and continues to fish Tenkiller regularly. Recent high school national bass fishing champ Jeremy Tolle is now a Carhartt College Series angler from nearby Northeastern State. Tolle’s family has had cabins on Tenkiller since the 1970s, and Jeremy estimates he fishes there 100 days a year.
And then there’s local boy Cooper Hall. He has lived his entire life in the Ozark terrain that surrounds the gorgeous reservoir. Hall was once neighbors with Tenkiller resident and top pro Jason Christie, and he fishes Tenkiller 120 days a year.
These three relatively young bucks share an exceptional in-depth knowledge of Tenkiller, and they were excited to offer their take on what fans and Bassmaster Elite Series pros can expect this week on the Eastern Oklahoma reservoir that was impounded 66 years ago.
Q: Lake Tenkiller is one of the greatest smallmouth fisheries in Oklahoma. What percentage of all the bass weighed-in during the Elite Series this week do you think will be smallmouth?
Porché: 35 percent
Tolle: 20 percent
Hall: 40 percent
Q: This tournament features a rare and challenging 16-inch minimum length limit for largemouth and smallmouth. How challenging will it be to catch a five-bass limit each day with a rather lofty minimum length rule?
Porché: It’s for sure tough to catch five that big in September on Tenkiller. Let’s just say they’ll be a ton of 15-inch fish caught and thrown back that never see the weigh-in.
Tolle: There will be lots of 14- and 15-inch caught, but 16-inch fish are definitely tougher to catch here at this time of year.
Hall: To be honest, I’m so used to the 16-inch minimum here; it’s no big deal. But I’ll say this; it forces you to utilize patterns that target bigger fish.
Q: Tenkiller was 20 to 30 feet above normal pool throughout much of the summer, but it’s finally dropped rapidly to near normal. How will the drastic change in water levels affect this tournament?
Porché: It will make this week better, because the water was so high that fishing pressure was very limited most of this summer. Plus, it’s added a healthy stain to a normally pretty clear reservoir.
Tolle: The falling water will keep the deep water summer patterns more in play, rather than spreading the fish out in flooded shoreline bushes.
Hall: The falling water creates current and that makes smallmouth chew. Plus, the high water took a ton of fishing pressure off this lake most of the summer.
Q: Tenkiller is 35 miles long, but it’s upper portion is very river like, compared to the mostly Ozark Mountain looking reservoir that comprises most of it’s 13,000 surface acres. How much will the upper river-like portion play a factor this week?
Porché: There will be fish caught in the river for sure, but I think the guy who wins will have productive areas from the river all the way down to the dam.
Tolle: I’ll guess that two of the Top 10 anglers will catch most of their weight in the river this week.
Hall: There’s fewer fish up in the river, but the quality size sure lives up there. So if you get the right five bites in the river, it could be magical.
Q: Name two lures you wouldn’t leave the official launch ramp at Chicken Creek without this week?
Porche: Whopper Plopper, and a 3/4-ounce football jig.
Tolle: Zoom redbug trick worm, and a 10-inch blue fleck worm.
Hall: Pop R, and a 1/2-ounce green pumpkin football jig.
Q: How much weight will an Elite Series pro need to average each day this week to make Sunday’s Top 10 championship round?
Porché: 11 or 12 pounds per day.
Tolle: I’d say 15 or 16 pounds a day to make the Top 10.
Hall: I’ll say 14 pounds a day for a Top 10.