Ever since I left the Bass Pro Tour tournament on Lake of the Ozarks in early May, I’ve been counting down the days to the upcoming event at Watts Bar. I’ve been looking forward to this event since MLF released the schedule in September. Even though I’ve never been to Watts Bar, it’s the Tennessee River and the perfect time of year to do what I do best: get offshore and fish for deep bass.
There’s no place I’d rather be in June, and I can’t wait for this tournament.
Obviously, the last few years on the Bass Pro Tour haven’t been the best for me. My results haven’t been great, and I know it, and I’m ready to go to an event that fits right into my wheelhouse. I haven’t had the chance to fish the way I like to on the Bass Pro Tour much besides last year at Lake Chickamauga and that worked out pretty well as I won my group and finished up in third place.
As I said, I’ve never even been to Watts Bar, but I’ve done some extensive map study and it has some similarities to other TVA lakes. I’ve seen some things I like, little differences, and stuff I don’t want to give away just yet. But it’s going to be a current deal, and I should be able to get on some schools of deep fish based on how the lake sets up.
The Tennessee River is a unique place. Bass spawn right on the bank and the next day, they may be out in 30 feet of water (and even deeper). I’ve seen it on Chickamauga, Kentucky Lake, Guntersville, and Pickwick – once they spawn, they head to the deepest water they’ll be in all year.
You’ll catch fish way out deep with tails that are still bloody from spawning. It’s where they want to go to recoup from the spawn. The change to deeper water can happen overnight and you need to be there waiting for them when they rush offshore. If you catch the first waves of fish, it can be the best ledge fishing you’ll experience all year.
This will be my plan on Watts Bar: get out deep with a crankbait like the Duel Hardcore Bullet Crank 7+ and the new 5+, and fish a Castaic Jerky J on a Kitana Stagger Scrounger Jig Head. Last year, the 7+ was the deal on Chickamauga, and I was catching fish cranking in deep water, much deeper than others were fishing because that crankbait gets so deep.
Fishing deeper than everyone else has always been one of my keys to success on the Tennessee River, and I always start with the crankbait and Stagger Head. Keep in mind, you also have to have a drop-shot or some soft plastic bait ready once they stop biting the moving baits.
Fishing offshore is what I like to do, and if it’s prespawn or postspawn I’ll be out away from the bank looking for that jewel. There are times when it’s just not going to happen, like on Lake of the Ozarks when all of the bass are on the bank and most were spawning. But when it’s time to practice on Watts Bar, you know where to find me. I’ll be out there trying to find those deep fish. It’s my favorite way to fish because you can find big ones and catch them in a hurry.