DANDRIDGE, Tenn. — Douglas Lake will host its third Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open presented by Allstate tournament this year with the season opener of the Northern Opens May 29-31.
A previous Open was held at Douglas the first week of April 2013 when Patrick Bone of Georgia won the three-day event with 65 pounds, 4 ounces, but fishing promises to be much different this time around, according to Bassmaster Elite Series competitor Ott DeFoe of nearby Knoxville, Tenn.
“That was an umbrella-rig tournament, and the bass were in the prespawn stage and a lot fatter then,” said DeFoe, who will be fishing the Northern Open on his home lake.
DeFoe predicts Douglas’ bass should be in the postspawn stage next week, even though the area experienced a cold winter that could have delayed the spawn.
“We had a little cold snap (the second week of May), but for the most part, when we finally got out of that cold, cold winter, it has been pretty normal,” DeFoe said. “I really don’t think there will be any fish left spawning, but that certainly doesn’t mean there won’t be some fish in shallow water. I am sure there will be.”
Despite a fairly dry spring, the lake level at Douglas has risen to its summer pool. “It is as full as it gets unless we get a major rain event, so there are going to be all kinds of stuff in the water to fish around,” DeFoe said. “There will be a lot of visible targets around the bank with the water as high as it is.”
Northern Open competitors will have plenty of cover, such as buckbrush and willow trees, to target for flipping and pitching. The lake also features a number of long points and humps that serve as excellent feeding spots for postspawn bass.
Dry spring weather has kept the lake level stable and the water clear at Douglas. “It has been a while, but the last time I fished there it was as clear as I have seen it in a long time, and I expect it to still be that way,” DeFoe said. Fishermen may find stained or murky water far up the tributary rivers, he added. “It just depends on the rain. If we get a lot of rain, there will be a lot of color. If not, it will be fairly clear up there as well.”
The local angler estimates visibility on the lower lake will be about 4 to 6 feet deep, and the upper end should have a visibility of 2 to 4 feet.
DeFoe said winning weights from other recent tournaments at Douglas have been down from previous years, but he expects the fishing should still be good during the Northern Open. “I have not gotten to fish there as much this year as I have in the past,” he said. “When I did, I caught a fair number. There are still plenty of fish, but it doesn’t seem like quite as many big ones being caught.”
The entire lake should be productive for the Northern Open competitors, according to DeFoe. “Typically, the lower end is where the biggest bags come from, but the fish are a lot easier to catch on the upper end,” he said.
DeFoe, a sure favorite in the event, predicts it will take about 15 pounds a day to make the Top 12 cut. He said he believes the winner will have to weigh limits in the upper teens to 20 pounds a day.
The daily launch will begin at 6 a.m. ET from the Point Marina, 122 Boatdock Drive, Dandridge, TN 37725. Weigh-ins on Days 1 and 2 will also be held at the Point Marina and begin at 2 p.m. ET. Sunday, the weigh-in will be held at Bass Pro Shops (3629 Outdoor Sportsman’s Place, Kodak, TN 37764) and will begin at 3 p.m. ET.