I've got rods, I've got my tackle...oh...and I've got my sleeping bag, and I've got my pillow.
...It's time for some night fishing!
Summer is finally here and it's time to shift gears. As the daytime highs reach close to 90 degrees we turn to the night so we can beat the heat and hopefully find more active bass. So, put on the fluorescent and plug in the black lights.
As we sit here preparing, there are alot of changes taking place...we have a major system moving through and dumping lots of rain in our area. South Holston is already to its brim and more rainfall is just going to put more cover in the water. Holston always presents the option of chasing smallmouth or largemouth bass and with the water higher than it was last year, I feel that largemouth are more in play this year.
After my time on the water Wednesday night, it is apparent that our hour or so of daylight is going to be crucial. Two main reports have been circulating in the last two weeks...people were reporting catching bass before dark on crankbaits along points and after that bite faded people reported catching bass on carolina rigs along points. Once dark arrived anglers switched to finesse baits to catch their bass.
Fishing Report and Conditions:
I got up to Holston a little before 8pm on Wednesday and the water temperature at launch was in the low 80 degrees and the water clarity was 5+ feet. I made my way back into a creek with standing timber first thing and had two largemouth within 15 minutes...one on a green pumpkin Pit Boss and another on a white jig.
After pitching the standing timber for a few more minutes I moved out the creek to a secondary point and threw a 6XD crankbait. The point was loaded with rock patches and I caught one smallmouth.
At this point the sun had gone down and I moved to a main lake point up the river. Throwing a small brown and orange jig I caught my second smallmouth of the night. I was working the jig extremely slow...moving it inches at a time once it got into the rocks. I moved on up the lake and caught another smallmouth on a main lake point.
Around 10pm I ran down the lake and hit a couple main lake walls with no luck. The water temp by this point had fallen into the upper 70's. I moved to another main lake point down the lake and caught a non-keeper smallmouth on the finesse jig and a keeper smallmouth on the 6XD crankbait in chartreuse sexy shad.
At 11:30pm I got off the water and our final count was 4 keepers out of the 7 that I caught.
As we head into tomorrow night's tournament it will be important to have a backup plan. We are going to have a lot of rain so creeks will get muddier and 10mph winds may make it difficult to throw the finesse baits on main lake points. The crankbait will be a good plan for the wind and don't be afraid to throw a heavier jig on the main lake points.
Thinking back on all of our fish that we caught...they all came out of 8 ft. of water or more. Even the largemouth the we caught pitching, came of of standing timber that was in 8 ft of water. Also always remember that the night has a typical bite pattern...the first hour and a half is good and then the last three hours are good. So stay positive and execute well!
See you on the water!
For the second year in a row, Chickamauga proved to be fickle beast.
While the weights for our two day event were up from last year, the quality of bass was down.
Chickamauga is a lake that is populated with Florida strain bass and Florida strain are very temperamental by nature. These fish were on the move and on top of that we had a strong weather system roll through the night before our event.
The key to our out of town tournament was finding concentrations of bass at transition points and at deeper summertime holes. The top finishing anglers all reported finding their bass in short stretches of bluff, concentrated areas of grass flats, or main channel ledges. The Harvey's focused on a rotation of bluffs close to Dayton. The Harvey's worked these bluffs with a tube and reported that their fish came in 30-40 yd. stretches of the bluffs. Ryan Pope work shell beds and grass points both days to finish second. Pope reported that the ledge bite was very slow. He had to make repeated casts with a football jg or magnum shaky head and work them very slowly. The Dison's fished on the fly both days to put together a total weight worthy of third place.
The key for dad and I was finding stuff away from the bank where small schools had gathered. When we arrived on Tuesday afternoon we focused on the upper portion of the lake and fished some grass points that were good to us last year, but it seemed that the bass had not migrated that far out yet...
On Wednesday we headed for the nuke plant...we got on the water a little before 5am so we could graph without wasting daylight. As we worked our way down the lake we graphed some small schools and once we reached the power plant w found the mother load. We graphed a school directly in front of the plant and the first fish out of that school was pushing 6+ lbs...after that we never got another bite on the ledges. Nothing we did would cause those fish to fire.
After working the ledges for a while we followed a creek channel back into a spawning area and stopped on a high point that we know to have grass on it. The channel was about 12' deep and the high spot next to the channel was about 2-3' deep. We began throwing spinner baits across the hump and ignited a school. During the tournament days we caught over fifty fish from this one school and luckily it was shallow enough to drop power poles and stay in one spot with the wind...On the second day of the tournament that school stopped eating our spinner baits and we had to switch up to top water.
After working the school each morning on day 1 and 2, we went into run and gun mode. On day one dad and I focused on bridges with drop shots. With the amount of current and wind we found bass schooled up tight to the pylons and that is how I finished out my limit on day one. On day two we started off working the shallow school but all of our size was gone. We left the shallow school and ran to the face of the dam looking for spotted bass, but we were pleasantly surprised by largemouth. We worked the intake pipes of the dam with drop shots and then moved back up the lake to a sailboat marina and I finished out my limit with a drop shot in the marina.
Chickamauga was tough to crack last week, but the key was to focus on areas that were impacted by the current. Bluffs, ledges, bridges, and even that grass hump had current. Although the bass weren't eating like sharks on the ledges, the bass were in concentrations. The water flow was right, but the weather did not cooperate...
On to the next one...
Always learn from your time on the water!
It is officially upon us...it is Chickamauga Week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
As you pack your bags and organize your tackle, make sure you got big baits and big line. While not every fish you catch will be your new personal best, there are lots of 7's, 8's, and 9's swimming around in that green tented water of this TVA lake.
The Big Bass Tour event just held this past weekend saw three over 9 lbs brought to the scales in Dayton, TN and several over 6 lbs.
The "Chick" has been flowing high this spring and with that high water there has been an excellent population of bass shallow. That high water also means a lot of flow...as we speak right now...they are churning 47,000 through the dam, and with the rain we have in the forecast I don't see things slowing down much.
This tournament will be a tale of two lakes...
There are lots of bass shallow feeding on shad and bluegill that are spawning, but there is also a wave of bass that are migrating back out to deeper water.
Focusing on your strengths will be key to this tournament. You don't want to get away from what you do best and waist time wandering around. Last year the chatterbait was the closest thing to a pattern, but this year the bass seem to be much more active. If you focus shallow, key in on baits that you can keep just above the grass and don't rule out a frog just because the grass isn't matted up. Even your shallow bass will be deep water oriented at this point...so follow the creek channels closely as you fish these sloughs, backwaters, and creeks. Deeper grass this time of the year is a great stopping point as bass head out to deeper points and ledges.
If you plan to get out deeper, you are going to have to trust your electronics. There is to much water out there for you to try and fish every point and ledge that looks good. If you haven't yet, take a look at the video TNCBA shared on Facebook about graphing deep water. Good ledge baits for this week will consist of swimbaits, crankbaits, and magnum shaky heads. If the bite gets tough, don't be afraid to downsize line and maybe even breakout a drop shot.
One last thought before we get this party started...
There have been several very large tournaments weigh-in at Dayton Boat Dock in the past month. That is thousands of very healthy fish being released right there at our launch site. Don't think you have to run 40 miles to find a good place to fish...sometimes the sweet spot is right under your nose.
I look forward to seeing everyone on Chickamauga...stay safe and swing for the fences...there's monsters in them there waters!!!!!
The high water and a shad spawn led to solid shallow bite...but heavy rain and storms slowed the shad spawn. An offshore bite was available, but overcast skies had the bass suspended out deep.
Ryan Pope was the top representative from the TNCBA with 11.5 lbs. for a top 30 finish!
Looking forward to getting back on the water!
A Little Extra Info...
If you haven't been out on the water in last couple of weeks, you have really missed some great fishing...
Our tournament on Douglas took place during the early stages of the spawn and made for some decent fishing. There are some important signs to look for during the Spring to help you identify the state of the fish. As we where rolling home from Douglas the sides of the interstate were overwhelmed with the sight of Red Bud trees in bloom. The other thing to notice from our time on Douglas was the powder of yellow that began to lay on everything that lay exposed.
These sights connect us to changes that are taking place above the water, but more importantly what is taking place under the water. The same ingredients that trigger the Red Bud trees and the massive amounts of pollen from other budding plants also trigger bass to hit the beds...now...this doesn't mean that every bass will move shallow at this time, nor does it mean that bass will wait this long to hit the bed. Bass spawn in waves and how many waves there will be is a question that I can't answer...what I can say though is that the biggest girls typically go first and I feel like we were seeing one of the first or second waves moving up.
Lets use these two bass as our example...every fish tells a story or provides a piece to the puzzle and it is important to pay close attention to the details. Both of these fish were caught on the Thursday before the tournament. First, look at the female on the left...she was caught on a shallow point back in a creek. You can see the extra girth in her belly and also the tail is very bloody and beat up from working her bed. Now look at the bass on the right...she was caught on a steep limestone bluff in 15' of water. Notice that her tail has mush less blood and fewer abrasions and she doesn't have the girth in her belly. The bass on the left told me that there were fishing currently on the beds and the bass on the right told me that a wave had already bedded and moved back out to deep water to heal.
I can't speak for everyone, but man was the top-water bite short lived. When we got to our first spot in Caney Creek we had about 15 minutes of top-water action. We caught our first bass on a black buzz-bait. After the top-water bite disappeared we roamed the shallows for a while without any luck. The Carolina rig bite that we had on Thursday was non-existent, but what is funny is the fact that Shaun and Wes caught some of there better fish on the Carolina rig. The main difference that we found out later was the fact that we were throwing a lizard and Shaun and Wes were throwing a salty crawl. Shaun and Wes were also fishing the upper section of the lake while we were fishing the middle section of the lake. (Typically the upper section of the lake has spawning activity sooner and the spawning activity moves down the lake.)
Around 9am and after the shallow bite had not panned out dad and I moved to 45 degree banks and focused on deeper pre-spawn fish. We really started fishing Douglas like we were fishing South Holston. Our main focus was on dark shale banks that form ledges. We were throwing a green pumpkin finesse worm on a 1/4 oz. Spot Remover head. The key was fishing the bait deeper in the 10' - 15' depth range. Shaun and Wes also reported catching a lot of their fish on finesse baits such as the Ned Rig.
The majority of reports pointed towards a finesse pattern being the strongest pattern. As bass move onto or near beds, they really lose that interest on chasing and it becomes more important to get finesse baits in front of their faces. This is why it is sometimes easier to focus on pre- and post- spawn bass, instead of going after spawners. As we move on through the next couple weeks the spawn is going to be winding down and we are going to get into that early post-spawn funk as they make their move into deeper water.
Douglas proved to be a finicky puzzle for the TNCBA. 11 out of 13 teams caught bass, but only four of those teams caught a limit. Individually 18 out of 25 anglers brought bass to the scales, but only five of those were limits. While that might not point to a tough tournament on Cherokee, that is a tough tournament on Douglas where there is a 12 in. limit.
As we move on to our out-of-town tournament, it is time to get your post-spawn attack ready. There are going to be dig girls shallow and deep, and more than likely there will be some sort of shad spawn or bluegill spawn occurring.
I hope everyone had a great time out on Douglas and thank you for coming out to join us!