UPCOMING EVENT: HIGH SCHOOL FISHING - 2019 - Pickwick Lake

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

'Ugly' Chickamauga

'Ugly' Chickamauga
The sun rises over the Tennessee River Valley Thursday morning.

HIXSON, Tenn. - To be called ugly as a person is demeaning and downright rude. To be called ugly as a bass fishery is perhaps the finest form of flattery. What "ugly" means in fishing terms is that the bite is sensational. That's the case this week as the fourth Walmart FLW Tour event of the season begins on Lake Chickamauga.

Chickamauga has long been known as the red-headed stepchild of the Tennessee Valley Authority. While Lake Guntersville, its neighbor 90 miles to the south, gets all the acclaim, Chickamauga continues to fly under the radar. That changes starting today. The bite has been phenomenal in practice, both for numbers and size. In fact, there have been multiple reports of 8-, 9- and even 10-pound fish. And just last week it took over 30 pounds to win a local tournament held out of Chester Frost Park.

Needless to say, last year's FLW Series event didn't show Chickamauga's true colors. With water temperatures in the mid-80s, the dog-day conditions were far from ideal, and the bass, in turn, were Matt Arey is pumped for some springtime flipping on Lake Chickamauga.sluggish. This time around is a different story. If the water level stabilizes as predicted, everything will line up for what promises to be a memorable springtime tournament. Think Okeechobee in east Tennessee.

"I've never seen anything like it," said North Carolina pro Matt Arey. "I dare to say it's better than Guntersville right now. People are going to be blown away with the weights. It's going to be absolutely ugly."

The rebound in bass population can largely be attributed to the grass, mostly hydrilla, which has been steadily increasing in density. In addition, Florida-strain bass have been stocked in recent years. Despite the grass' overall effect, it won't play a role in this event as it's too early in the season. Instead, it's all about the spawn.

"When practice started I saw a 10-pounder on the bed, and dare I say I could have caught 30 pounds," Arey added. "But since then, it's gotten a little tougher with the water falling and the cool nights."

Unlike Lake Hartwell, most of Chickamauga is stained, which makes sight-fishing much more difficult. Anglers will likely catch many bedders this week just fishing, not necessarily looking at them. Some of the more popular techniques will include flipping and throwing moving baits like square-bill crankbaits Flipping baits such as this will prove popular on Lake Chickamaugaand spinnerbaits.

The spawning bass that were visible in practice are dicey because of the falling water. When practice started, Chickamauga was at 683 feet above sea level, which is exactly full pool. Four days later it sits at 679.9. That means that quite a few fish that were up spawning have had to abandon beds as backwater flats disappeared.

"The fish I saw (on bed) are now high and dry; they're gone. Maybe a guy would be smart to pick up a Carolina rig and pull off the bank a bit where they stage."

Whether it's sight-fishing or blind-casting, the weights this week will be impressive. To make the top-20 cutoff after two days, most think it will take nearly 40 pounds.

"I think 36 pounds will get you there," predicted Arey. "And I know a lot of people are saying more. But I don't how this lake is going to handle all that pressure on the bank, especially with the water falling."

Logistics

Anglers will take off from Chester Frost Park located at 2318 Gold Point Circle North in Hixson, Tenn., at Jason Christie shows how big the bass he caught in practice were.7 each morning. Thursday and Friday's weigh-ins will also be held at Chester Frost Park beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday's final weigh-ins will be held at the Chattanooga Convention Center located at 1150 Carter Drive in Chattanooga beginning at 4 p.m.

Fans will be treated to the FLW Outdoors Expo at the Chattanooga Convention Center on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. prior to the final weigh-ins. The first 300 kids 14 and under on Sunday will receive a free rod and reel combo compliments of US 101. Fans can also register to win a Can-Am ATV courtesy of WDSI Fox 61 which will be given away following the final weigh-in. The Expo includes Ranger boat simulators, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and fans can learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public.

In FLW Tour competition, pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day, with pros supplying the boat, controlling boat movement and competing against other pros. Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers. The full field competes in the two-day opening round. After day two the field is pared to the top 20 pros and co-anglers. The co-angler competition concludes at Saturday's weigh-in and the top-10 pros continue competition Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from all four days.

On the Web

For those who can't catch the weigh-in action in person, FLWOutdoors.com offers FLW Live, an online application that brings fans real-time weigh-in results, streaming video and audio.

In addition to FLW Live, FLWOutdoors.com is offering real-time updates from the water throughout each day of the Lake Chickamauga event. Simply click on the "On the Water Coverage" banner from any of the home pages.

Thursday's conditions

Sunrise: 7:11 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 49 degrees
Expected high temperature: 78 degrees
Water temperature: 59-61 degrees upriver, 61-68 downriver
Wind: ENE at 7 mph
Maximum humidity: 47 percent
Day's outlook: mostly sunny

Tags: brett-carlson  morning-story  2011-04-14-lake-chickamauga 

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