UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - Santee Cooper

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Setting Up a Slugfest at Chickamauga  

Setting Up a Slugfest at Chickamauga  
Ray Puckett

The second stop of the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division promises much better fishing than the first. Moving north from a cold front-plagued Florida swing, the field will visit Lake Chickamauga for the middle event of the season. The tournament, which is presented by T-H Marine, should feature excellent fishing, as the east Tennessee reservoir pretty much always kicks out giants.

 

The layout

One of the standout reservoirs on the Tennessee River, Chickamauga isn’t as big as Pickwick or Kentucky Lake, but these days it firmly holds the belt for the biggest bass. Located near the border between Georgia and Tennessee, the lake churns out 10-pounders on the reg’ and has been a major focus of anglers and tournaments for the last 10 years. Because Chick has plenty of grass and the water level fluctuates a fair amount, the lake offers a variety of patterns throughout the year, and nearly always has quality fishing. 

 

Current conditions

Mid-March is in the prime of prespawn on Chickamauga, but the lake isn’t exactly normal at the moment. Copious amounts of rain in Tennessee have kept the current rushing in the Tennessee River for much of the winter, but despite the rainfall, the water level is actually very low.

Currently, the lake is nearly 8 feet below full pool, and the Tennessee Valley Authority has been pulling more than 100,000 cfs for quite a while. According to FLW Tour pro Buddy Gross, who also happens to be one of the pre-eminent locals on Chickamauga, about 30,000 cfs could ordinarily be considered quite a bit of flow.

Typically, current is the friend of anglers on the Tennessee River, so it’s not really a major concern, but the conditions are worth noting. Though the water level has started to tick back up over the last day or so, it’s still likely that the tournament takes place under unusual circumstances.

 

Buddy Gross

The Gross perspective

Though Gross surprisingly doesn’t have any FLW wins on Chickamauga, he’s notched a couple of top 10s there and is still considered one of the best on the lake. Hailing from Chickamauga, Ga., he’s spent countless hours on the lake and has seen it under almost every circumstance.

“It’s the lowest I’ve ever seen,” says Gross. “It’s like 8 feet below full pool right now. I’m seeing stuff I’ve never seen. It might fish a little bit smaller than what we want it to, because the water is down so far, but it won’t let anyone down. They’re biting. Several guys are catching big ones.”

Gross is almost certainly one of those several. He figures that the winner will have at least one giant bag and a winning total of more than 20 pounds per day.

“It’s going to be anyone’s ballgame in this one,” says Gross. “What’s probably going to win it is something that nobody ever saw coming.

“There’s gonna be lots of crankbait action, including a lot of shallow cranking. You’re gonna see a ChatterBait bite too. I haven’t got a bite on the Alabama Rig yet, but there’s not a whole lot of good water to throw it in. The creeks are cleaning up, but the main river is real dirty.”

Gross says that because the current has been rolling for so long, many of the fish have pushed off the main lake and into the creeks, coves and eddies. Of course, many of the backwaters are very shallow at the moment, so access to them for the bass and anglers is limited.

“It’s really crowded, but someone is going to crack them in Chester Frost,” says Gross. “But, I think the stuff upriver around takeoff is going to play. Because the water is low, it’s pulled those fish out of the shallow water to wherever there’s a little more depth, and you should be able to find them easier.”

 

Coly Floyd, Carter McNeil

Look forward to good fishing

Though Chickamauga isn’t quite kicking out the five-fish limits like it was when Rogne Brown won a 2013 T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) event there with 40 pounds, 14 ounces, it’s still very good. It seems every week there are two or three 10-plus-pound bass showing up on social media at Chickamauga, showing the lake’s big-fish potential. Yet, really large tournaments haven’t hit Chickamauga very much when the lake is almost 100 percent prespawn, so there’s not too much history to gauge potential in a three-day derby. Still, you can expect excellence. The last two YETI FLW College Fishing events took place on Guntersville and Kentucky Lake, and they both took a ton to win, so it’s only fair to expect the pros and co-anglers at Chickamauga to keep the ball rolling.

 

Tournament details

Format: All boaters and co-anglers will compete for two days. The top 10 boaters and co-anglers based on cumulative weight after two days of competition will advance to the third and final round, with the winner determined by the heaviest cumulative three-day weight.

Takeoff Time: 7:30 a.m. ET

Takeoff Location: Dayton Boat Dock, 175 Lakeshore Street, Dayton, TN 37321

Weigh-In Time: Days one and two: 3:30 p.m. ET; day three: 4:30 p.m. ET

Weigh-In Location: Dayton Boat Dock on days one and two; Bass Pro Shops at 1000 Bass Pro Drive, Chattanooga, TN 37412 on day three

Complete details

Tags: lake-chickamauga  -chick  -prespawn  -buddy-gross  jody-white  pre-tournament  2019-03-21-lake-chickamauga 

2019 Lake Chickamauga Preview

2019 Lake Chickamauga Preview

Lake Chickamauga in east Tennessee is a big-bass playground where anglers regularly catch trophy fish that surpass 10 pounds. In early May, it'll host the FLW Tour for the third time in six years. Previous events were held in June, so this stop promises to offer a different look at the Chick. READ MORE »

Big Weights Expected at Santee Cooper

Big Weights Expected at Santee Cooper

The Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division finishes up its 2019 season at the Santee Cooper lakes, Marion and Moultrie, in South Carolina this week. Forty pros and co-anglers will qualify for the championship, and an Angler of the Year will be crowned as the field fishes for hefty postspawn largemouths. READ MORE »

FLW Tour Set to Visit Lake Chickamauga for Sixth Event of Season

FLW Tour Set to Visit Lake Chickamauga for Sixth Event of Season

DAYTON, Tenn. – Fishing League Worldwide (FLW), the world’s largest tournament fishing organization, is set to continue the 2019 FLW Tour season – the 24th season of the competitive Tour – next week, May 2-5, with the FLW Tour at Lake Chickamauga presented by Evinrude. Hosted by Fish Dayton and the Rhea Economic Tourism Council, the tournament will feature 168... READ MORE »

Review: iRod Genesis II Legit’s Finesse Swimmer

Review: iRod Genesis II Legit’s Finesse Swimmer

Built to FLW Tour pro Aaron Britt’s specifications, the iRod Genesis II Legit’s Finesse Swimmer rod is a mid-priced spinning rod that’s specifically designed for tossing small swimbaits on light heads. READ MORE »

AOY Update – Cherokee Lake

AOY Update – Cherokee Lake

This year’s FLW Tour Angler of the Year race is hurtling toward one of the most dramatic finishes ever. After finishing 46th at Cherokee Lake, rookie pro Miles “Sonar” Burghoff took advantage of a stumble by Terry Bolton to move into the top spot in the standings. If Burghoff can hold on through the final two events, he’ll be the first rookie since Shinichi Fukae in 2004 to win the AOY award. READ MORE »

FLW Live Schedule for Cherokee Lake

FLW Live Schedule for Cherokee Lake

FLW Live is back for 2019 FLW Tour stop No. 5 at beautiful Cherokee Lake. The event, which is presented by Lowrance and hosted by the Jefferson County Economic Development Alliance, runs Thursday, April 11 through Sunday, April 14. READ MORE »

Get to Know Cherokee Lake

Get to Know Cherokee Lake

The fifth stop of the FLW Tour is presented by Lowrance and sure to be fun if you like east Tennessee, smallmouths and good fishing (who doesn’t?). Cherokee Lake plays host and promises to both challenge and delight anglers. READ MORE »

Beavers Breaks Down Cherokee

Beavers Breaks Down Cherokee

Beavers started the year off about as badly as he could, finishing 121st at Rayburn, but he’s been on a tear ever since, finishing 54th at Toho before banking back-to-back top 10s at Seminole and Grand. READ MORE »

Scouting Cherokee with LeBrun

Scouting Cherokee with LeBrun

Now in the second half of the Tour season, LeBrun is up against another new lake, and sort of a new species. He says he’s never seen a smallmouth on a bed in his life, and has spent just two days on Cherokee in pre-practice. READ MORE »

2019 Cherokee Lake Preview

2019 Cherokee Lake Preview

Nestled in the hills of east Tennessee, Cherokee Lake is a TVA impoundment on the Holston River, and it sits roughly between Norris Lake (to the northwest) and Douglas Lake (to the southeast). READ MORE »

How Buddy Rigs a Hollow Swimbait

How Buddy Rigs a Hollow Swimbait

Gross has been fishing hollow-body swimbaits for a long time, and for most of that time, he’s also cut the belly of those swimbaits to allow for better hook penetration. It’s a simple concept a lot of anglers either don’t think about or wouldn’t consider if they did think about it, due to durability concerns. READ MORE »

Prespawn Throwdown on Tap at KY Lake

Prespawn Throwdown on Tap at KY Lake

The Costa FLW Series Central Division hosts its season opener at Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley April 4-6. Instead of a postspawn ledge showdown, like is typical of major multi-day bass-fishing tournaments in the region, this derby should be a prespawn or spawn slugfest, with crankbaits, spinnerbaits, ChatterBaits, umbrella rigs, swimbait and jigs all playing a major role in the outcome. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Grand Lake

Top 10 Baits from Grand Lake

If you’re going to fish Grand Lake this time of year, you’d better be good with a spinnerbait. The FLW Tour event at Grand Lake last week sure showcased that. READ MORE »

Get to Know Grand Lake

Get to Know Grand Lake

The fourth stop of the 2019 FLW Tour is presented by Mercury at Grand Lake. Though the Tour last hit the big Oklahoma lake in 2013, Grand sees plenty of tournament action, especially in the spring, and it never fails to deliver drama. READ MORE »

Poking Around Grand with Cortiana

Poking Around Grand with Cortiana

Since starting to fish Costa FLW Series events in 2016, Kyle Cortiana has banked over $100,000 with FLW and finished in the top 10 of the Southwestern Division three times. On the FLW Tour, he’s been a bit less successful, with no top 10s and no FLW Cup qualifications … yet. This year, he’s sitting 35th in the points, with a good chance to go to the Cup, and the FLW Tour presented by Mercury on Grand Lake finally gives him a shot at a Tour event with home field advantage. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Chickamauga

Top 10 Patterns from Chickamauga

Tournament champion Brent Butler ran different patterns nearly every day in the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division event on Lake Chickamauga last week. The tournament, presented by T-H Marine, wasn’t quite the slugfest many expected it to be, but Butler’s 68-pound, 8-ounce three-day total was still an impressive showing. The rest of the top 10 got on a handful of patterns – some the same all three days and some changing from day to day – but all worked well enough to earn a top 10 and a paycheck. READ MORE »

Day 1 Practice on Grand with Warren

Day 1 Practice on Grand with Warren

There’s a good crew of Oklahoma anglers on the FLW Tour, but of them, Chad Warren is definitely one of the favorites at Grand Lake. Stop No. 4 of the 2019 FLW Tour, which is presented by Mercury, heads to Grand in the early spring for a prespawn tournament that might feature really good fishing. READ MORE »

Ostmann bags 54-12 for Co-angler Win

Ostmann bags 54-12 for Co-angler Win

Scott Ostmann’s last tournament on Chickamauga wasn’t what he knew he was capable of. He found out just what he could really do on Chick this week with a 54-12 three-day total in the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division event, presented by T-H Marine, and a huge dose of redemption on a lake that beat him up in 2017. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits From Chickamauga

Top 10 Baits From Chickamauga

Prespawn on Lake Chickamauga usually means a healthy dose of lipless crankbaits and umbrella rigs, so it wasn’t surprising that those were exactly the baits that dominated for the top 10 at the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division event presented by T-H Marine on the east Tennessee fishery. Square-bill crankbaits had their place, as did vibrating jigs and a variety of other baits. In the end, though, the common thread connecting many of the anglers in the top 10 was either a trap or a rig. READ MORE »

Chickamauga Midday Update – Day 3

Chickamauga Midday Update – Day 3

With bluebird skies and a little breeze, day three conditions on Chickamauga almost mirror those of day two, which saw a 37-pound, 5-ounce bag caught by current leader Brent Butler. Weights might have been down a bit across the board, but there are enough anglers in the top 10 that are on enough fish to make today’s weigh-in interesting. They’re all out there chasing down some Chick giants today. READ MORE »