The Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats event on Lake Chickamauga in Dayton, Tennessee was a challenging one for the anglers due to the high winds, rain, no current, and transitioning fish. However, despite the unfavorable conditions, the anglers managed to bring numerous giant bass to the scales, with the winner, Brody Campbell, weighing in with almost a 30-pound bag. (Pictures courtesy of Major League Fishing)
Brody Campbell, who fished three community holes near Chester Frost, relied on forward-facing sonar to locate isolated stumps and a lone grass patch, which other anglers seemed to miss or were not as precise when hitting. He used a Carolina rig with a Strike King Rage Bug and a Neko rig to catch keepers, while a drop-shot with a morning dawn-colored Roboworm Straight Tail Worm caught his kickers, including the 9-pounder and two 7-pounders that anchored his Day 2 megabag.
Seth Davis, who finished as runner-up for the second time in three years, ran 100 “high-percentage spots” over the course of the tournament, often making only a cast or two to isolated pieces of cover before moving on to the next. He used a Zoom Trick Worm on a 3/0 Owner Cover Shot Worm Hook, with a ¼-ounce weight rigged on 20-pound-test Seaguar Smackdown braid to a 12-pound-test Seaguar Blue Label fluorocarbon leader, as well as a Rapala DT20 thrown on 12-pound test Seaguar Red Label fluorocarbon.
Ethan Shaw, who fished the “60 Flat” near the Highway 60 bridge, slow-rolled a Z-Man Evergreen ChatterBait JackHammer with a Lake Fork Live Magic Shad trailer to catch fish, while a Carolina rig with a Zoom Brush Hog also produced a few catches.
Donny Beck preferred the tailrace below the dam to fish chunk rock near the dam with a Johnson Lures Swim Jig and a Keitech Swing Impact FAT trailer, and he also threw a Zoom Boot Tail Fluke on a Johnson Lures Swimbait Head in the current breaks.
Taylor Parker, on the other hand, hung around Hiwassee Island, hitting every little cut off the main river he could find and never deviating from throwing a white Nichols Reflex Buzzbait with a Zoom Z-Craw Worm trailer that he’d cut in half.
Emil Wagner rotated through a dozen spots he’d found after spending the entire practice graphing, which were either shallow bars, brush piles, or stumps. He caught his bigger fish burning a 6th Sense Crush 300DD, but his workhorse was a drop-shot with a morning dawn-colored Roboworm Straight Tail Worm on a 1/0 hook and ¼-ounce tungsten weight.
Casey Martin initially focused on a shad spawn, throwing a spinnerbait, which produced his 9-pounder on Day 1. Unfortunately, when the rain came in, his shad-spawn bite went away. Then he focused on laydowns on rocky banks, using a Ned rig to fill his limit and the spinnerbait to catch his bigger fish.
Jade Keeton spent considerable time with Donny Beck below the Pickwick Dam and replicated it this week. Keeton opted for a Scottsboro Tackle Glide, while Beck went with a swimbait.
Jordan Wiggins may not have won the battle, but he won the war by making the Top 10 and taking home Angler of the Year in the Central Division. He relied on a shakin’ worm to catch his fish.
Standing out during the Lake Chickamauga tournament was the importance of adapting to changing conditions. The weather was unpredictable, with strong winds and fluctuating water levels, which made it challenging for the anglers to locate and catch fish.
The top performers were able to adjust their strategies accordingly and still bring in impressive catches. The anglers who performed well had carefully selected their lures, rods, and reels, and had a good understanding of how to use them effectively. This highlights the importance of investing in quality gear and taking the time to practice using it before heading out on the water.
The Lake Chickamauga tournament was a great showcase of the skill, knowledge, and dedication required to succeed in bass fishing. It provided a platform for anglers to test themselves against their peers and the unpredictable elements of nature.