UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Erie

Deep or Shallow at Chickamauga?

Deep or Shallow at Chickamauga?
Anglers line up their boats under clear blue skies.

There was no sentimentality attached to the smartphone photos anglers were showing off to each other prior to the Wednesday afternoon rules meeting of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Chickamauga. The photos weren’t of loved ones back home; rather, they were shots of big largemouth bass the fishermen had caught and released during practice earlier this week.

In fact, there was a surprising number of such photos making the rounds, which suggests that the kind of hefty bass that can make or break a tournament for an angler are there ready and waiting as the four-day event presented by Igloo Coolers got underway this morning out of Dayton Boat Dock.

Most of the pictures showed a background of shoreline trees and shrubs, indicative of a shallow bite. One angler hefting an 8-pound-class lunker admitted as much, saying, “Yeah, it came off the bank, but which bank?” That might be the $100,000 question over the next four days, which equals the prize money up for grabs in this, the fifth of six events on the 2015 Tour.

Other important questions that are likely to be answered by Chickamauga include who can all but clinch a berth in the Forrest Wood Cup in August, and who – if anyone – will emerge as the odds-on favorite in the Angler of the Year chase that local favorite Wesley Strader currently leads.

If there is a strong inshore bite, it will take pressure off the dozens of ledge fishermen who will be lined up to take their turns on the lake’s most popular community holes. That list includes such formidable Tennessee contenders as Strader, Michael Neal, Randy Haynes and Jason Lambert. On the shallow side of things, there are the likes of 2013 and 2014 Angler of the Year Andy Morgan, another homegrown pick, and any number of frog flingers and dock pitchers capable of turning a mediocre limit into a 30-pound sack with one or two of those photo fish.

“The lake is fishing about normal for this time of year, though the grass is definitely a month or so behind,” says Neal, which might not bode well for some. “One thing that’s been hurting the ledge bite is that there hasn’t been much current, so the fish haven’t been bunched up too much. That’s changing now, and they’re pulling about twice as much water as before.”

But when? Some anglers surmise that the dam gates are being opened in the evening, and being closed during the day to accommodate a weekend gathering of boats at Chattanooga called Riverfest. If that’s the case, the ledge-fishing bunch will have a harder time coaxing sulking offshore fish into biting.

“I’ve practiced out there a lot, but the fish have been beat up. I think that’s going to put a lot of people on the bank,” says Alabama pro Richard Peek. “It’s still going to be a crowded mess on the ledges, and I hope everybody has patience because they’re going to be sharing the good spots all day. I just hope I get in some good rotations.”

In the Tennessee High School Fishing State Championship on Chickamauga last Saturday, shaky heads fished shallow produced a winning stringer of 21 pounds, 13 ounces for the two-angler team. The stringer included a 7-04 fish. Second place was 20-14, and there were several other sacks that any touring pro would be proud to have.

Neal figures it will take an average of about 21 or 22 pounds per day over the course of the tournament, and that an angler can reach Sunday’s championship round even if he falters one day but makes up for it the next with a couple of the bigger fish for which Chickamauga is famous. The lake gave up the state record largemouth of 15 pounds, 3 ounces this spring, and the state record Kentucky spotted bass of 6-01 in 2011.

There might not be any records broken this week, but Neal is confident a lot of big fish will show up at daily weigh-ins.

Be sure to bring your camera.

 

Thursday’s Conditions

Sunrise: 6:25 a.m.

Temperature at takeoff: 68 degrees

Expected high temperature: 91 degrees

Water temperature: high 70s to low 80s

Wind: S-SSW at 3-7 mph

Today’s outlook: hot, still and sunny in the morning with a slight chance of afternoon thunderstorms

Extended forecast: highs in the mid-80s to low 90s with partly cloudy skies and a chance of evening thunderstorms every day through Sunday, with the best chance occurring on Friday

Moon phase: waning crescent

 

Competition Format

In Walmart 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 with non-fishing partners accompanying them Saturday. The top 10 pros continue competition Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from all four days.

 

For more coverage

For those who can’t attend the weigh-in, FLWFishing.com offers FLW Live, an online application that brings fans real-time weigh-in results, streaming video and audio.

In addition to FLW Live, FLWFishing.com offers real-time updates from the water. Simply click on the tournament ID within the “On the Water” banner at the top of the FLW or Walmart FLW Tour home pages.

 

Walmart FLW Tour event information

Takeoff

Location: Dayton Boat Dock, 175 Lakeshore Street, Dayton, Tenn.

Time: 6:30 a.m. ET

 

FLW Live/Weigh-in

Days 1 and 2: 3 p.m. ET

Dayton Boat Dock

 

Days 3 and 4: 4 p.m. ET

Walmart 619, 3034 Rhea County Hwy, Dayton, Tenn.

 

FLW Expo

Walmart 619, 3034 Rhea County Hwy, Dayton, Tenn.

Date: Saturday and Sunday, 12-4 p.m. ET

Admission: FREE

Activities: Fans are welcome to join FLW for the FLW Expo at the Walmart, 3034 Rhea County Hwy, Dayton, Tenn. Walmart FLW Tour pros, will be on site signing autographs and posing with fans for photos. Families can enjoy interactive games, explore the Walmart Kids Zone, receive free samples, drive a Ranger Boat simulator and have a chance to win a $250 Walmart gift card.

 

Tags: lake-chickamauga  flw-tour  colin-moore  morning-story  2015-06-11-lake-chickamauga 

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