Bassmaster Elite Series pro Chad Pipkens of Michigan was under enormous pressure when he competed in the final Bassmaster Northern Open of 2017 on Douglas Lake, Tennessee. The regular season Elite Series tournaments were over and Pipkens was unsure if he would finish high enough in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings to rejoin the tour in 2018.
However, after the first two Northern Opens of 2017, Pipkens was tied for third place in that division’s AOY standings. If he could catch enough bass at Douglas to stay among the Top 5 in the AOY points, he would earn an invitation to the Elites.
The September tournament proved so stingy that well over half the field failed to catch 10 pounds of bass in two days of fishing. Pipkens eked out 14 pounds, 10 ounces, including a 5-11 largemouth that was the biggest bass of the event. It was enough to land him in fourth place in the final Northern Open AOY points and secure his return to the Elites.
The pattern that saved Pipkens at Douglas was working a drop-shot rig at different angles over rock seams. Many gravel points at Douglas have rock seams that are visible in the shallows and above the surface when the lake is low. Pipkens fished seams 5 to 20 feet beneath the surface that he could see with his Humminbird 360 Imaging sonar.
Elite Series pro Brandon Card is well aware of the rock seams at Douglas. The lake is near his Knoxville, Tenn., home and he has fished it many times. Card is even more tuned in to the rock seams at Cherokee, which he regards as his home lake, and at nearby Norris Lake. Grand Lake, Oklahoma, is another lake where Card has plucked bass from seams.