UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - St. Lawrence River

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FLW Tour Recap: Lake Chickamauga

FLW Tour Recap: Lake Chickamauga
Pro leader Dave Lefebre holds up part of his 16-pound, 4-ounce limit.

(Editor's note: Veteran bass pro Dave Lefebre has agreed to take time to share his insights into each FLW Tour event of the 2011 season. After every event, Lefebre will give his thoughts on tournament strategy, winning techniques and other behind-the-scenes stories/information that is compelling to our readers. The following blog represents his fourth installment. Lefebre ultimately finished the Lake Chickamauga event in 89th place with a two-day total of 25 pounds.)

The FLW schedule is packed with great tournament sites this season and Lake Chickamauga was one of them. Although we hit it at the absolute perfect time, the dramatically falling water levels put a significant damper on what could have been. I honestly believe that we would have set some FLW weight records last week had the water stayed up.

On Sunday, our first practice day, the fishing was absolutely unbelievable. I had one of the best days I've ever had on the water ... ever. I selectively set the hook on about half of the bites I had that day and had over 25 pounds twice, two 8-pounders, and caught another 10 fish in the 4-pound range. At a team tournament on Saturday it took 31 pounds to win and had that dang water stayed up, I'm quite sure there would have been some 30-pound limits caught in our event as well. In the professional tournament world you can always count on something going wrong. Somehow it never works out perfectly and the falling water was the culprit this time, unfortunately.

I enjoyed the area and the fishing at Chickamauga. I knew as soon as I put my Frosted Flakes Ranger boat in the water that first morning that I was going to feel comfortable there. And I did. Even after the water began falling, 2 feet by Monday morning, I still felt like I could catch them. Although it wasn't as easy on the second and third day of practice, I still managed to catch 18-plus pounds each day, again without setting the hook more than half the time. I caught fish on a variety of different baits, but was especially pleased to find out that they were eating a jig, a swimbait, and a frog. That is the great thing about a lake like Chickamauga - anglers can catch fish by doing just about anything they want to do. I like fishing a jig, especially, so I was excited as the tournament approached.

I made my home in the Hiawassee River. Like Hartwell last month, I'd never been to the "Chick" and I really couldn't find too much current information online about it. I stayed in Cleveland, Tenn., and had about a 15-minute drive to the ramp each morning. After seeing all those huge fish on the first day of practice I simply decided to live in that area and was totally content with that decision.

I finished in a humbling 89th position when it was all said and done, which would lead you to believe that maybe I was in the wrong place, but I actually had the bites to do a little better. I lost a 5-pounder at the boat on day two and another one that got tangled in a bush and came off. I should have had around 18 pounds that day, and though it still wouldn't have been a great finish, at least it would have gotten me a good check and kept me alive in the AOY race. It's disappointing to stumble after such a great start to the season, especially on a lake like this one that fit my style so well, but that is just fishing sometimes. On the bright side however, my very good friend and roommate for the week, Alton "The Lack Attack" Lackie, finished 2nd on the co-angler side. He was so excited and we are all so proud of him. It was actually fun being his chauffeur and helping him rig his shakey heads the evening before the top-20 cut. That's right, the Lack Attack did most of his damage with a little tiny worm and a spinning rod. Great job Lackie!

As predicted, fish were caught in a variety of different ways in many different areas of the lake and the top-10 anglers were definitely spread out. Apparently there was quite a bit of grass that anglers found and were able to catch fish out of using rattling baits, ChatterBaits and crankbaits. I never found any grass during my practice, but there were plenty of docks where I was and some of the top-10 guys found their fish doing that as well. The deal in this event basically boiled down to finding those slightly deeper places where the bass would go as the water fell, and if there was a dock, laydown, stump, or grass there it was even better.

In some cases, guys found schooling fish in ditches on big flats or around the many bridges. I talked to a fisherman who made the top 20 who said all his fish came on a spinnerbait around rocks and riprap. Versatility is often the key in this game, and in this event it proved to be more important than ever. Those who were able to adjust to the falling water levels and find those deeper sweet spots really whacked them. And guys who were still figuring it out at the end of day two (like me) where in trouble, lol.

I caught all my fish this week on a ¼-ounce Texas rigged Kinami D-Bug in green pumpkin and a 9/16-ounce Tabu jig also in green pumpkin. In practice I caught all those huge fish flipping the dead reeds and matted stuff and when the water fell they moved out to the closest rocky areas close to those reeds. Unfortunately, I didn't figure that out until the last two hours of day 2, which by then was way too late.

We are officially at the halftime of the FLW Tour Major season and the second half begins next month in Branson, Mo., on Table Rock Lake - another awesome fishery. It will be a great event with a lot of big bags because, again, I think we will be hitting it at just about the perfect time of the year. I'll see you there! I'm bringing my guitar in hopes of jamming with world famous fiddle player, Shoji Tabuchi again!

To read more about Dave's life on the road, check out On Tour With Dave and Anne, sponsored by Chevy. Throughout the 2011 FLW Tour season, Dave and his wife, Anne will be keeping a detailed blog of their experiences while traveling the country in their Chevy Trucks.

Tags: dave-lefebre  blog  2011-04-14-lake-chickamauga 

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