Warming up on Lake Chickamauga

After getting to spend a few weeks at home I’m back on the road this week to resume the Bassmaster Elite Series season at Lake Guntersville, Alabama.
A section of the Tennessee River, Lake Guntersville is one of the most historic bass tournament lakes in the United States, hosting dozens of pro events over the years. It’s known for having good numbers of big fish and usually kicks out plenty of good catches.
My experience on Guntersville is somewhat limited although I did fish an FLW Tour event there in 2017 that I finished 22nd in.
That event took place in February so the fishing we did then will not be that relevant to our tournament this week but I do have a lot of early summer experience on several of the other Tennessee River lakes, including Kentucky, Pickwick and Chickamauga so some of that knowledge should help me a little bit.
Lake Chickamauga is located two lakes above Guntersville, separated by a couple of dams, so I decided to leave home a couple of days early to come down here and get in a little warm up before our three day practice starts on Guntersville.
These lakes are famous for their “ledge fishing”, where many of the bass in the lakes move out to the main river channel for the summer and live in deeper water.
These lakes all fish somewhat similar so what I’m finding to be working at Chickamauga should be somewhat similar to how the fishing is going to be at Guntersville.
Another reason for coming down early was I wanted to get in a few days of fishing in the hot weather down here to try to get acclimated a little bit before the competition begins.
Summer weather in the south is hot and that can be challenging, especially for our long prefishing days.
Temperatures every day are in the low 30s with high humidity.
The best thing that I’ve found is to cover up as much skin as you can and drink plenty of cold water during the day.
Lake Chickamauga is a popular spot for bass anglers because of the number of double digit bass that have been caught over the past few years but I was surprised to see the actual number of boats that were out there.
There were way more boats than I thought there would be, much different when I fished there three years ago.
This made the fishing tougher than I expected.
A lot of the bass on these Tennessee River lakes move out to main lake structure during summer where we’re catching them in 15-30 feet of water quite often.
The fun part about fishing on these lakes is that the bass will school up and you can catch a bunch of them in a short amount of time so we spend much of our time hunting around with electronics, trying to find these schools.
At Chickamauga, it was typical summer fishing on main lake points and ledges.
The only problem was all of the good spots were not secret so you had to almost take a number to get to fish any of them.
When we did get around fish we caught quite a few but not many big ones.
My last day there I experimented with different baits that may work for me this week for my tournament.
It’s good to do that before the actual prefishing or tournament starts because I don’t want to use to many baits that I’m unsure of or don’t have confidence in, for fear of missing out on finding good fishing spots.
We get three days to prefish this week before the tournament starts on Friday so we need to make the most of our time during those three days.
The biggest bass I caught over a few days of fishing at Lake Chickamauga was a six and a half pound largemouth that bit a Z-Man Mag FattyZ worm that I was dragging on the bottom.
I also got to fish with Jason Johnson, one of my good friends from my days fishing at FLW.
We met my first year fishing in the U.S. and we have been pretty close ever since.
He lives about two hours south of Lake Chickamauga and was able to come and meet me for a day.
It’s always good when we get to share the boat with good friends that we don’t get to see all the time.
I’m excited for the tournament to start on Friday, I enjoy the deep water fishing for bass and feel like I have some advantage over some of the southern anglers because of all my time fishing for walleye over the years.
Hopefully I put that experience to good use.
Follow the results of the event this weekend at Bassmaster.com, the tournament runs from Friday to Monday.