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InsideLine – Hawk Talk – BASSfest on Lake Chickamauga
Category : HAWK TALK
The inaugural BASSfest on Lake Chickamauga had a different format than a regular season Elite Series event. In addition to the regular Elite Series field, the top 20 anglers from each of the B.A.S.S. Open Divisions had the opportunity to enter the event. There were no AOY points involved, so it allowed the anglers to fish aggressively for the win. The full field fished Chickamauga on Wednesday and Thursday with the top 50 earning Friday off while all competitors outside the top 50 fished a one day tournament on nearby Lake Nickajack for an opportunity to earn a spot back into the tournament on Chickamauga by finishing in the top 10.
hawk-chick01Having prior experience on Chickamauga and following local tournament results I felt the tournament would most likely be won offshore and on the upper end of the lake, so I concentrated my practice area from Sale Creek to the dam. I launched at Chesterfrost Park the first practice day and quickly discovered the majority of the field shared my those thoughts—there were boats everywhere. I spent the entire day glued to my Lowrance HDS 12’s scanning ledges and drops, focusing on any irregularities like points and indentations with a hard bottom.
I found two schools by the end of the day, but they were on obvious spots I was certain other competitors would also find. I continued scanning ledges on days two and three, not stopping to fish unless I saw fish on my sonar first. I found four more spots holding good numbers of bass, but not the quality I was looking for. As practice progressed it became obvious the anglers would be bunched up tight on specific offshore spots, so getting a good boat draw would be crucial. After learning I’d be boat 108 and taking off in the last flight, I focused on the positive, knowing I’d be in the first flight on day two.
After takeoff from the launch site in Dayton, TN I ran fifteen minutes toward a submerged main river island just past the Highway 60 bridge. When I arrived within sight of the island there were already a dozen boats tightly packed together, so I didn’t bother stopping. I kept running toward the dam to another submerged main river island I found holding fish in practice and stopped to fish since there were only two boats in the area. After a few minutes without a bite and no activity on my front sonar I started the big motor and idled down the main river side of the underwater island and discovered the fish had moved down 20 yards. I lowered my trolling motor again and caught three small largemouth directly beneath the boat on a dropshot rig. Then the bite stopped, so I decided to move to another spot in hopes of catching bigger fish.
Originally published over on the InsideLine online magazine