DAYTON, Tenn. – Pro Brody Campbell of Oxford, Ohio, brought a five-bass limit to the scale weighing 17 pounds even Thursday to win the Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats at Lake Chickamauga and earn the top payout of $52,300. Campbell’s three-day total of 15 bass weighing 62-3 earned him the victory by an 11-pound, 11-ounce margin over local favorite Seth Davis of Dayton, Tennessee, who finished second with 15 bass totaling 50-8 to earn $21,000.
With more dreary conditions, the majority of the field struggled on the final day. Considering the 26-year-old Campbell already had a 9-pound, 7-ounce lead going into today, the tough bite suited him just fine. Yet, he showed he wasn’t about to leave any doubt.
Campbell brought in 17 pounds – the third-largest bag of the day – to not just protect his lead but expand it to nearly 12 pounds with 62-3 total, earning his fourth win with MLF. Though, this is by far his biggest to the tune of $52,300.
Having limited knowledge of Chickamauga coming into this event, Campbell admits he went down to the Chester Frost area and looked around on some of the biggest community holes. What he found were some key, isolated pieces of cover. Specifically, a couple of stumps on two humps in Chester Frost and an isolated grass patch on the end of an offshore bar near the mouth.
So, after starting each day fishing near takeoff for some keepers to “get his confidence up,” he’d then make the run down south to those community holes to try and upgrade. The first day’s 30 mph winds made it hard to fish them effectively, he said, but Day 2 was a different story.
“It got calm and I did some damage,” Campbell said. “I caught both 7-pounders off those stumps using my forward-facing sonar, and that 9-pounder came off that grass patch.
“Other people were fishing those three spots because they’re so obvious, but you had to know those isolated sweet spots with small pods of fish on them. I’d just roll up there, and using forward-facing sonar, I was able to just make the right cast, especially once it got calm the last two days.”
In terms of offerings, Campbell wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary. A Carolina rig with a Strike King Rage Bug caught plenty of keepers, as did a Neko rig, but his biggest player was a drop-shot with a morning dawn-colored Roboworm Straight Tail Worm.
Considering the level of talent always present at Lake Chickamauga events, it’s hard to imagine such an obvious, straightforward game plan would win the event. Yet, with how tough the conditions were this week – high winds the first day, rain the second and third, with transitioning fish and no current – keeping it simple was exactly what Campbell needed to do. That, and weigh in a megabag on Day 2.
“These guys are some of the best anglers in the country, with so many local hammers who know this lake better than anybody,” Campbell said. “So, to come out here and beat them guys is unbelievable. It truly feels amazing.”
The Top 10 pros on Lake Chickamauga finished:
1st: Brody Campbell, Oxford, Ohio, 15 bass, 62-3, $52,300
2nd: Seth Davis, Dayton, Tenn., 15 bass, 50-8, $21,000
3rd: Ethan Shaw, Carmel, Ind., 15 bass, 45-11, $14,250
4th: Donny Beck, Killen, Ala., 15 bass, 45-8, $12,250
5th: Taylor Parker, Lake View, Ala., 15 bass, 43-8, $11,450
6th: Emil Wagner, Marietta, Ga., 15 bass, 43-8, $9,125
7th: Casey Martin, Brownsboro, Ala., 15 bass, 42-9, $8,400
8th: Jade Keeton, Florence, Ala., 15 bass, 42-2, $6,900
9th: Jordan Wiggins, Cullman, Ala., 15 bass, 40-13, $5,900
10th: Greg Pugh, Cullman, Ala., 14 bass, 40-7, $4,500
Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Pro Casey Martin of Brownsboro, Alabama, won the $500 Day 1 Berkley Big Bass award in the pro division Tuesday with a bass weighing 9 pounds, 7 ounces. On Wednesday, tournament winner Brody Campbell earned the $500 Berkley Big Bass prize with a largemouth weighing in at 9 pounds, 9 ounces.
Cooper Jett of North Shores, Michigan, won the Strike King Co-angler Division Thursday with a three-day total of 14 bass weighing 36 pounds, 3 ounces. Jett took home the top co-angler prize of $34,6750, including a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard motor and $1,250 in cash.
The Top 10 Strike King co-anglers on Lake Chickamauga finished:
1st: Cooper Jett, North Shores, Mich., 14 bass, 36-3, Phoenix 518 Pro boat w/115-hp Mercury outboard
2nd: Steve Higgins, Cleveland, Tenn., 13 bass, 31-14, $6,275
3rd: Jonathan Dagley, Wartburg, Tenn., 12 bass, 31-4, $4,900
4th: Greg Surratt, Canal Winchester, Ohio, 11 bass, 29-0, $3,950
5th: Gary Greenwood, Taylors, S.C., 10 bass, 27-9, $3,450
6th: Chris Hughes, Centerville, Tenn., nine bass, 25-15, $2,950
7th: Pop Catalin, Cookeville, Tenn., 12 bass, 25-5, $2,450
8th: Dwaine Williams, Greenup, Ky., 11 bass, 24-3, $1,975
9th: Tom Spangler, Knoxville, Tenn., nine bass, 24-1, $1,590
10th: Steven Jacques, Addison, Ala., 11 bass, 23-10, $1,350
Rickey Robertson, Jr., earned Tuesday’s $150 Berkley Big Bass award after weighing in a 7-pound, 13-ounce bass, while the Day 2 $150 award went to co-angler winner Steve Higgins, who brought a 7-pound, 3-ounce bass to the scale.
With the three regular-season events in the Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats Central Division now complete, pro Jordan Wiggins of Cullman, Alabama, was crowned the 2023 Central Division Pro Angler of the Year (AOY) and earned the $5,000 AOY bonus with a total of 722 points. Alan Hults of Gautier, Mississippi, won the 2023 Central Division Strike King Co-angler AOY race and the $2,000 AOY bonus with 752 points.
The Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats at Lake Chickamauga was hosted by Fish Dayton and the Rhea Economic & Tourism Council. It was the third and final regular-season event for the Toyota Series Central Division. The next event for the Top 25 anglers in the Toyota Series Central Division AOY standings will be the Toyota Series Championship at Table Rock Lake, Nov. 2-4, in Branson, Missouri. For a complete schedule of events, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com.
The 2023 Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats consists of six divisions – Central, Northern, Plains, Southern, Southwestern and the Western Division Presented by Tackle Warehouse – each holding three regular-season events, along with the International and Wild Card divisions. Anglers who fish in any of the six divisions or the Wild Card division and finish in the Top 25 will qualify for the no-entry-fee Toyota Series Championship for a shot at winning up to $235,000 and a qualification to REDCREST 2024. The winning Strike King co-angler at the championship earns a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard. The 2023 Toyota Series Championship on Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri, is hosted by ExploreBranson.com.
Proud sponsors of the 2023 MLF Toyota Series include: 4WP, 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, B&W Trailer Hitches, Black Rifle Coffee Company, E3, Favorite Fishing, Fox Rent a Car, General Tire, Gill, Grundéns, Lew’s, Lowrance, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Next Gen Lithium, Onyx, Phoenix, Polaris, Power-Pole, Strike King, Tackle Warehouse, T-H Marine, Wiley X and YETI.
For complete details and updated information visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular Toyota Series updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the MLF5 social media outlets at Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.