Lake Chickamauga Day 1 Coverage - Major League Fishing

Lake Chickamauga Day 1 Coverage

Michael Wooley and John Cox dueling on Chickamauga
Image for Lake Chickamauga Day 1 Coverage
Like a lot of other anglers, Darrell Davis had some early action, then had to sweat through a long period of down time before the fishing picked up again. Photo by Colin Moore. Angler: Darrell Davis.
June 11, 2015 • MLF • Archives

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2 p.m.: Late-flight pros are hoping for a final charge

Nothing much has changed out on the water, except that the first wave of pros is about to start checking in for weigh-in, which will open up some space on crowded ledges. Also, the extra time out there for anglers in the later flights will be critical for upgrading five-bass limits to get into the cut.

The wind has started to pick up, offering a little relief from the heat, and it might give these fish a little overhead cover in the form of a surface chop. Maybe that's wishful thinking, but right now a couple of good bites could move a pro way up the standings in a hurry.


1:30 p.m.: Wooley's 9-pounder propels him to the front

Apparently not everyone had a slow morning. We finally caught up with Tennesseean Michael Wooley, who reports that he caught a 9-pounder and culled up to 24 pounds by 8 a.m. Wooley told us yesterday that he had a bunch of schools located offshore. And we already knew that he's one of the best at the business of ledge fishing. Apparently, Wooley has something figured out that can produce big results in a hurry.

On the flip side is John Cox, who's neck-and-neck with Wooley, and he's catching his fish shallow. There are a lot of options in play here on Chickamauga this week.


12:30 p.m.: With a lack of current, shallow patterns are dominating

Among the early leaders, T-Roy is spending some time in the deep water, but most of the rest are fishing shallow to middepth grass with Texas rigs and other plastics. Pitching to clumps of "duck weed" seems to be the dominant pattern, though bed-fishing, topwater and tossing big swimbaits are working too.

John Cox is still out front – obviously fishing shallow – and his pattern doesn't seem to be affected by the lack of current.

Current – or the lack thereof – is the other half of the story today. With little water running, many anglers have abandoned the offshore bite entirely, but that program could turn on later this week. This should make for an interesting tournament with plenty of twists and turns.

11:30 a.m.: John Cox jumps in front

John Cox was on to something when he decided to fish transducer-free this season. That's right, he has no transducer on his boat, and he only fishes shallow. And right now, he's the unofficial leader on Lake Chickamauga with an estimated total of 23 to 24 pounds.

We spoke with Cox yesterday, and he was on a unique bite that he didn't want to reveal to fans just yet. Whether or not that pattern materialized this morning, one thing is certain: Cox knows how to track down big bass in skinny water everywhere he goes.

Other top contenders right now are T-Roy Broussard with 18 pounds, Mike Surman with 16 pounds and Michael Neal with 15 pounds.


11:05 a.m.: Locals getting started, but T-Roy is the unofficial leader

As Wesley Strader and Michael Neal continue to piece together their day-one limits, Troy "T-Roy" Broussard is looking for an upgrade that could put him in the driver's seat. He's got about 18 pounds in the livewell, but that includes a 15-incher. If Broussard can cull that runt, he might crack the 20-pound mark with several hours left to go. No one else that we've heard from is on that pace.

However, the current has picked up a tick, and offshore anglers have taken notice. Those pros are starting to reposition back to their ledge spots to be ready when the flow really picks up. Neal ran all the way to the dam. He says that's where the current's effects are noticed first.


10:30 a.m.: The morning bite is a grind, but this afternoon looks to be prime for action

Even the locals are forging through slow morning action. Michael Neal and Wesley Strader have four fish apiece. One of Strader's fish is a tank, and Neal has about 15 pounds – the biggest catch reported thus far.

The lack of current is to blame for most of the slow action. Well, that and the fishing pressure on Chickamauga's limited ledges. Many anglers have resorted to spinning rods to try and tempt keepers into biting.

Everyone we've talked to is still looking forward to the afternoon and, hopefully, some current to activate these fish. Current starts up the entire system, from the ledges, to rocky structure upriver to the backwaters even.

Several good fish have been caught from shallow grass already though, including a couple of 7-pounders. One or two 5-plus grass fish to cap a limit would put a pro in a great position today.


9:15 a.m.: River action is slow, as the ledge croud waits for action to turn on

Several pros ran way up the river this morning, but our OTW crew reports that action is very slow in the river so we're relocating them to the lower end, where more of the field is fishing. A little bit of current is moving, but not really enough to ignite the ledge bite. Several anglers said this morning that the current is supposed to pick up in the afternoon. That could make the last couple hours of fishing key today.

Right now, the sun is high, and the flag here at Dayton Boat Dock is barely moving. It's a steamy Southern day here in east Tennessee.


8:30 a.m.: Darrell Davis has found the giants,  Andy Morgan has a limit and many pros are finesse fishing

Big fish continue to fall, with several reports of 5-plus-pounders being caught already. Darrell Davis is on the big-fish pattern. He's landed a 7-pounder and a 4 1/2. Assuming he'll get five, he should be in good shape.

A local observer reports that Andy Morgan has a five-bass limit. We're sending someone to verify and will report back soon with a weight estimate.

Fishing isn't easy for everyone, though. Members of the offshore contingent are spending a lot of time with spinning rods in their hands. OTW reporter Rob Newell says he's stopped to talk with nine anglers, and all but one was using the "fairy wand." Could a tournament on one of the hottest big-fish lakes in the country become a finesse battle?


8 a.m.: Bed-fishing, ledge fishing or something in between?

Everyone said this was going to be a ledge-fishing battle. But it looks as if there's no guarantee that everyone will be right. Two well-known shallow fishermen report that there's a 20-pound stringer to be caught bed-fishing – yes, bed-fishing – thanks to a late wave of spawners that moved up recently. And various other shallow grass and dock-fishing patterns produced big bites in practice.

Unfortunately, the report on the morning shallow bite has been slow thus far, but fishing in general is slow. The ledges are already crowded too. Matt Arey, Jacob Wheeler and Jeff Sprague were idling around each other on one ledge to see how the fish were positioned. They communicated with each other and were generally friendly, which is what's needed to keep the peace when sharing offshore schools. Apparently the fish weren't there, however, and the party scattered.

Of the fish catches that've been reported, the weights have been big. Co-angler Marty Denton caught a 7-pounder. He's fishing with Kyle White. Pro Brandon Cobb has a 5-pounder.

The afternoon window could be the best, at least ledge-fishing expert Tom Redington thinks so. He plans to hit some of his better schools after the crowds leave and some of the anglers in the early flights head for weigh-in. We'll have to wait to find out if his wait-and-see approach works.