Hey everybody it has been way too long. I hope everyone has been having a blessed and safe summer. I sure have been busy with school, part-time work to build up expense money, and fishing!! I am almost finished up with my 2 summer semester classes. I will have a couple weeks off before fall semester starts which will make it a great opportunity to catch up. I am planning to catch up with all the fishing I have been doing both with the Kennesaw State University Fishing Team and personal tournaments with American Bass Anglers.
Since the start of 2015 I have fished While still keeping up with my grades in school:
6 ABA AFT on Allatoona as a boater
5 ABA Ram Weekend Series events as a Co-angler
2 ACA BOATUS Collegiate series events as a boater
1 FLW Southeastern Collegiate Event as a boater
2 Fishlife Collegiate Trail events as a boater
Here is my first report of hopefully many to come for 2015. I like talking fishing and these reports will be detailed but I use it to pick apart what I learned and how I can build from it the next time I go out to the body of water. Feel free to comment, I would like to hear what y’all think.
Thanks for your time,
May 16th - Fishlife Collegiate Trail
Lake Chickamauga – Dayton Ramp
Finished 6th place out of 23 boats with 12.84lbs
On tournament day there was 2 main baits that produced for us.
- Rod: St. Croix Avid-X 7'4" Heavy Casting rod
- Reel: Abu Garcia Revo STX Gen 3 6:4-1
- Line: 15lbs Seaguar Invizx Fluorocarbon
Most guys that are experienced with this technique would say that is too light of a pound test but that is what I already had tied on. I had no issues with the 15lbs test but depending on how much rock, brush, or grass you may through into I would bump it up to 20lbs Fluorocarbon. There are situations you can get away with braid as well.
- Lure: 1/2oz Strike King Bluegill Swimjig with a Strike King Summer Craw (Green Pumpkin with Chartuese mixed)
- Technique/Presentation: After doing some research and gaining a better understanding of Chickamauga and the kind of ways you can catch bass over there I decided to try out the Swimjig. I tried getting a Spinnerbait bite using a 5/8oz Chartreuse and white Spinnerbait (Stan Sloan’s Zorro The Aggravator from The Dugout) with bigger willow leaf blades but I just couldn't get that bite going.. But within a few casts of the swimjig I started getting bites. The presentation of the swimjig seemed like it had a more of a subtle presentation than say a spinnerbait. I would either do a constant steady retrieve to the boat or sometimes shake the rod up and down (maybe 3 inches each way) in real short motions to give it more of a swimming action.
- While I mainly focused on the swimjig bite I convinced my teammate to throw something a little different to possibly get fish that may have not wanted to commit to the swimjig. Sure thing, my buddy cleaned up pretty well with a watermelon red senko rigged on a screw-lock shakyhead (maybe 1/4oz head). My teammate was throwing that on a 7’ medium spinning rod with I believe 10lbs fluorocarbon. That ended up working great and helped get a few extra key fish towards our 5 fish limit.
-Hollow Belly Swimbait:
-Rod: St. Croix Avid-X 7'4" Heavy Casting
-Reel: Abu Garcia Revo STX Gen 3 6:4-1
-Line: 15lbs Seaguar Invizx Flourocarbon
Just like the simjig as I move forward I will most likely bump it up to 20lbs fluorocarbon. My reasoning is because once you hook a solid fish to a true giant you want to get that fish to the boat!! I just happened to be fishing more open water where I could get away with a little lighter line than normal.
-Lure: 5.5" Strike King Shadilious Hollow Belly Swimbait
-Hook: I think it is a 1/4oz belly weighted 6/0 or 7/0 wide gap hook
-Technique/Presentation: This presentation happened to be something that I figured out pre-fishing for the American Bass Anglers, Weekend Bass Series, Alabama North Division, at Lake Guntersville for the April 4th event. My buddy and I were Pre-fishing for the event the Friday before and found a few pockets that were covered in beds. A lot of those beds were empty but we found a few decent quality fish hanging around the area (mostly male largemouths). We fished Guntersville the week before the Elite Series fished there and long story short Skeet Reese won it on a Basstrix 7” Hollow Belly swimbait the same color but the main difference is he fished ditches where the big females were going to before and after spawning.
Anyways, I fished it exactly the same on Chickamauga as I did on Guntersville and had equal success. I would cast it in any areas where I thought would be a good ambush place for a largemouth to hang out at. Examples would include the outside edges of the grass lines, skipping it under some overhanging branches creating shade lines, and then paralleling boat docks, stump flats, and laydowns. This was a great way to get numbers of bites but only produced 2-3 pound range largemouths. Biggest on it was a little over 3lbs during a pre-fishing day. It was a lot of fun to throw but my confidence to get a little bigger bite was on the swimjig for Chickamauga and the given conditions we fished in.
- Tournament Story: This was my FIRST EVER tournament as a boater outside of fishing my local lake, Lake Allatoona and my FIRST EVER College Fishing Event. This forced me to build on my fishing strengths. This meant I was going to figure out the best pattern I can up shallow. Lake Chickamauga is one of a few top lakes in the country that you can catch solid quality fish both deep on main river ledges and creek channels and shallow which includes a variety of things such as mainlake pockets, creek arms, boat docks, laydowns, and over hanging branches. Depending on the time of year, and weather conditions will dictate if there is enough quality fish up shallow to compete with the fish that are out on the main river ledges. This event happened to be right after finishing up my Spring Semester classes and saved up enough money to pre-fish a couple extra days. I ended up pre-fishing that Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for that event. I wanted to check out as much of the lake as I could. As I did my scouting up shallow I found a lot of different places that look great but most of the fish I was catching were the 1.5-3lbs largemouths. I tried bouncing around to many places to see if I could get more of those 3+ pound bites and I found one Creek Arm that was holding quite a few fish and was one of only a few areas I had a 3+lbs bite in. There were a couple key things on why this creek arm was producing some fish.
- most bites happened while the boat was sitting in 5-6 foot of water and then cast right on the bank from there. This key indicated a specific degree angle bank. Since most of the spawning was over these fish wanted faster access to deep water.
- There were sections of the shoreline grass that produced very well for me. The super shallow grass 1-2 feet had no fish or little 12 inchers or smaller. If you could find grass in the 3-4 foot range is where I started getting bites.
- Sections in-between the grass was hard bottom with a mix of laydowns and over hanging tree branches. Boat positioning was critical to help maximize the efficiency of each cast. I would parallel the laydown and cast across it and sometimes the largemouths would hammer it as soon as it reaches the side closer to me. The longer more accurate casts I would make the more bites I seemed to get.
- I actually did take a day trip to Chickamauga the Friday the previous week to do more scouting than fishing. I actually checked this same creek arm then, it was clear water then and found bluegill beds in a couple sections back in it. During the week of the event there was a little rain that came through and stained up some of the shallow water so I was the only one that knew what was in that creek arm.. Anyways, I ended up just going there as my first spot of the day and we caught the 12.84lbs limit we weighed before 9:00 in the morning!! I tried fishing as many areas as I could to cull up but just couldn't find enough quality for the areas I chose to fish. We ended up hitting the same creek arm on the way back to weigh-in and hook another 3+lbs largemouth right at the boat at 2:00pm when weigh-in was at 2:30pm. But I didn't get a good enough hook set in the fish and managed to spit the hook..
Winner had 22lbs caught on the main river ledges. That team committed out deep and they explained it took a while to get the school they found to bite but eventually got them fired up..
Second place had 17lbs most likely from our deep. Then the next 3 places were 15lbs limits that I believe were actually caught shallow (maybe a mix of shallow and deep).
Last thoughts: Overall I had a lot of fun fishing one of the top Bass Fishing Lakes in the country and can't wait to go back there as a boater to expand what I have already learned there. But if it is during the prime time for ledge fishing I have to grind it out and teach myself more about the ledge fishing. The ledge fishing on a lake like Lake Chickamauga can be VERY REWARDING but it does take a lot of time and patience to learn how to properly fish them. Example: you could of very well found winning quality fish but one thing I have learned about ledge fishing is that TIMING IS EVERYTHING as far as if and when the fish will become active. Weather conditions, wind, and CURRENT help dictate how active the fish will be and where they position themselves on the ledges.
Click on the images to see a few additional pics: