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2:05 – That's it for the blog
Thanks for following along with the blog today. We hope you enjoyed FLW Live. Don't forget, we're streaming every weigh-in beginning at 3 p.m. ET. FLW Live's studio show will broadcast from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. ET each day of the event.
Join us at weigh-in to find out whether a shallow-water specialist will take the lead, or if a ledge fisherman will land on top.
1:45 – A "day of curveballs"
Miles "Sonar" Burghoff, while on FLW Live, described today as a "day of curveballs." Burghoff says holding his boat in the wind has cashed his cranking battery, which has cost him some of his electronics, and he's had to really hustle to stay on the fish as the weather changed from rain and overcast skies to sunny and back.
Burghoff's assessment is spot on. Today has not been easy. Even the pros with good limits have had to endure some struggles. John Cox, the leader, has caught only seven keeper bass. Lendell Martin Jr., who's throwing a spinnerbait, has caught only five keepers to get to 18 1/2 pounds. Offshore, the schools have shifted. Jason Lambert was on the trail of two schools with more than 100 fish apiece, and the entire schools vanished. He's still caught 30 bass, but the best five only weigh 9 pounds.
All the ups and downs have made for a very entertaining day on FLW Live. The broadcast ends at 2 p.m. ET, but we'll be back live for weigh-in at 3 p.m. and will stream live again tomorrow starting at 8 a.m. Stand by for one final update on the day one blog.
1:22 – Insight from Cox; Morgan has 15 at Watts Bar
John Cox has shared some interesting insights with the FLW Live crew and our on-the-water reporters. The main thing he's shared is that the water is rising in his area, and that's part of what's made the shallow bite tough. Yeah, he has 20 pounds, but he's only landed seven fish. Contrast that with Jason Lambert, who's landed 30 bass fishing a ledge. Lambert has 9 pounds, by the way, and says he's had two schools of 100 fish each disappear on him today. Cox is one bite away from really putting himself in good shape. Like usual, changing conditions are having a big impact on the shallow bite, but if anyone knows how to navigate those changes, it's Cox.
The live crew just reported that Andy Morgan now has 15 pounds fishing up on Watts Bar. He's been fishing offshore. We might see some interesting weights come in from Chickamauga's neighbor to the north.
1:00 – Nelson improves, Zell "pops" a big one
Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Angler of the Year leader Ron Nelson caught a nice fish to improve his weight to about 12 pounds, 4 ounces. That has him in 46th place and right in the thick of it with some of the other AOY contenders. Nelson is dragging for offshore fish, trying to coax a big bite or two.
Everyone's favorite topwater angler Zell Rowland has not surprisingly been tossing a popper all day. He just added a 5-pounder to go with a few little keepers and made a nice leap up the leaderboard.
There's still a mixed bag of patterns in play, guys catching fish all over the lake, sunshine in some corners with scattered showers in others … in other words, there's a lot going on, and a lot left to settle on the first day at Lake Chickamauga.
FLW Live and the blog will remain active for another hour. Follow along, and then join us at 3 p.m. ET for the live weigh-in.
12:37 – Ashley hammering them at Watts Bar
We know for sure that Andy Morgan and Casey Ashley ran to Watts Bar today. Of the two, Ashley has the edge. In the last hour or so, he's culled several times to get to about 13 1/2 pounds. That's not enough to be in contention to lead or even make the cut, but it's probably enough (if he can add a little and repeat tomorrow) to make at least $10,000 this week. The best part about fishing at Watts Bar is having the lake pretty much to yourself. Ashley is fishing docks. It's highly unlikely that he's dealing with any fishing pressure. Down on Chickamauga, meanwhile, anyone fishing shallow is having to share fish, which could make those fish run out in two or three days of fishing. The ledge guys have even more pressure. There are schools of fish there, but the pressure makes them tough to catch. So going to Watts Bar to make a check isn't a bad idea at all … if you're comfortable not having a great chance at the W.
12:10 – Cox has 20
John Cox said he was stuck in a "lull period" right up until he pulled into a little spot about two boatlengths off the bank and popped a 3 1/2-pounder. "That's about as offshore as I'm going to get," he said, adding that the area was about 7 feet deep. He should have around 20 pounds and is in good shape going into the afternoon.
12:05 – Go watch Wesley on FLW Live
If you're reading this, stop right now, go back to the FLW homepage and start watching FLW Live. Wesley Strader is doing his own commentating, and it's fantastic stuff. Not only does he know more about bass fishing than 99 percent of Americans, but he's a hoot on camera. We currently estimate Strader to be in 20th place. He just boxed a small keeper, so he might be moving up the leaderboard soon.
If you want to watch Wesley on live, you'd better hurry, because Cox just caught a 3 1/2 to finish his limit and take over the lead. We'll be live with him momentarily.
11:35 – They're still pounding 'em
Other than a few brief lulls in the action, the fishing has been very consistent today, and pros are catching fish from the bank to the deepest ledges. The lower end definitely has the most anglers, which is why some of the best ledges are pretty crowded. But we're seeing plenty of fish catches come from shallow grass, docks and other shallow cover.
John Cox continues to have a day. He now has 16 1/2 pounds with just four fish. Cox said his goal today is 25 pounds. He knows that cracking 20 four days in a row is a huge ask, so he needs all he can get today.
Cox trails only Tom Redington, who has 17 pounds in the livewell. Kyle Cortiana caught a near-5-pounder about 20 minutes ago to jump into the top three with 16 pounds. Behind him, Dave Parsons, Michael Neal, Bailey Boutries, David Williams, Mike Surman, Mark Davis and Lendell Martin Jr. all have more than 15 pounds in the livewell. It's a packed crowd in that mid- to upper teens limit range. That'll change eventually. Someone is going to crack 20-plus for sure.
10:40 – Redington is in the lead; Atkins charging
We just received a report from pro Tom Redington, who says he has a 17-pound limit in the boat. That makes him the unofficial leader. We're working on getting a reporter to him, but you can pretty much bank on Redington fishing offshore ledges. He's an electronics master and one of the top Tennessee River fisherman at the pro lvel.
Also, Justin Atkins is having a big morning. A Tennessee River hammer himself, Atkins has 13 pounds. He says he keeps wanting to go fish grass, but every time he thinks about moving he catches another one offshore.
10:20 – The sun! Flurries for some, but lulls for others
How to describe the last 40 minutes … For some anglers, it's been slow, almost as if the bite shut off. For others, the catches have come in bunches. Grae Buck and Glenn Chappelear each pounded out quick limits of fish. Chapp's is a good one. He's in eighth place with 13-plus pounds. Ron Nelson, Miles Burghoff and a few others that had early limits have been able to cull up by a few ounces, but no one is really pulling away. John Cox seems to be on the best quality fish up shallow. He has three keepers for 13-12. Bailey Boutries is still the unofficial leader with 15 and change, but we haven't heard much from him in the last hour.
Oh, and the sun is out. That could very well change the reaction bite up shallow, but it could also make Cox's frog bite even better.
9:50 – The rain has let up over most of the lake
It's been a drizzly, rainy morning off and on so far here on Chickamauga. The rain seems to have let off over most parts of the lake now, but the cloud cover remains, along with a light breeze. That's good news for the shallow-water contingent. Once the sun pops up, the shallow fish might suck in tighter to cover or hunker under thick grass, but they might also get tougher to catch on moving baits. So far this morning, the shallow-water guys have really enjoyed quality fishing. The bass are active. They're chasing moving baits. They're chomping. If any of the shallow-water pros want to hang with the offshore crowd, they'll need to have a big day today, because getting bit on the bank for four days in a row is going to be really tough.
UPDATE: Bobby Lane just checked in with three keepers for 10 1/2 pounds. He's also fishing shallow. Could we see a surprise shallow-water winner pull off the upset this week? It's really early to speculate … but that won't stop us from daydreaming about a frogger or flipper pulling it off.
9:20 – Boutries and Williams top 15 pounds
Bailey Boutries and David Williams have each surpassed the 15-pound mark. They're currently the top two.
It's a surprisingly even mix between offshore and shallow fishing in our top 20 right now. In addition to frogging grass and throwing ChatterBaits, pros are also getting bit on spinnerbaits, crankbaits and fishing docks. Offshore, it's mostly soft plastics, hair jigs and deep-diving crankbaits getting it done.
9:10 – Cox is up to three good ones
John Cox has landed a 6-pounder, 2 1/2-pounder and 5-pounder, all from one spot, and he's throwing a frog. You can see him on FLW Live breaking down his pattern right now. It's great stuff. Cox is a shallow-water hammer. He said he saw a bunch of boats out deep on his way to his starting spot, and he rolled right in and went to work doing what he does.
There are actually quite a few pros fishing shallow right now with ChatterBaits, swim jigs, swimbaits and topwater. Today's conditions are perfect for it. It's cloudy, and there are some mayflies hatching.
8:40 – Cox lands a 6-pounder
Michael Neal is the unofficial leader right now with 13 1/2 pounds, but John Cox is showing off just how good he is at catching giant shallow bass. He just landed a 6-pounder. Cox has a long way to go, but he loves Chickamauga and has had tremendous success there over the years. If he can get on a few more quality fish like that one, he'll be in good shape to try to make the cut.
8:15 – Lendell Martin gets a giant; the Watts Bar group has arrived
Lendell Martin Jr. clocked the first heavyweight of the tournament. His marshal is estimating the bass at about 9 pounds. We'll have a photo to share shortly. Chickamauga is known for giants, but we're getting to the tail end of the time of year when those double-digit bass are willing to cooperate. So that fish is a big get for Martin.
We can also report that Casey Ashley has made it to Watts Bar Lake. He's through the lock and has already landed a keeper. We don't have a full head count for how many anglers went to Watts Bar. Still, you can see the time commitment involved. By the time Ashley landed his first keeper, there were at least a dozen anglers with limits on Chickamauga.
8:00 – Get ready for FLW Live!
FLW Live just kicked off. Be sure to tune in and see all the action from the Lake Chickamauga Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament.
Right after our last update, Alton Jones Jr. upgraded to 11 pounds, 12 ounces, and we received an update from Todd Faircloth, who has 11 1/2 pounds in the livewell. Faircloth has a school fired up and is trying to make hay while he can. He's unofficially in second place.
7:55 – Pros are pounding the fish in grass and on ledges
We just experienced a 30-minute flurry of updates that lit up the live leaderboard. There are now a half-dozen or so reported limits over the 10-pound mark. Alton Jones Jr. is the current unofficial leader with 11 pounds, 4 ounces, followed by Dicky Newberry, Terry Scroggins, Matt Becker and Adrian Avena.
Most of the better catches have come from the ledges, and mostly by pros dragging soft plastics. The other common pattern is winding a ChatterBait through the grass. Today's cloudy, rainy conditions probably help that bite more than anything, and the ChatterBait might help with some pattern diversity among the top anglers after the day is done.
7:30 – Becker bags the first limit; lower end getting crowded
The superstitious among us might feel a little uneasy about catching a fish on the first cast, but let's be honest, that's never a bad deal. Matt Becker landed a keeper on his very first cast. And his second cast. And his third cast. He's caught six keepers total and has about 10 pounds in the livewell.
Becker's marshal says the Pennsylvania pro ran down the lake "til you can't go anymore." That lower section is crowded this morning, which is no surprise. The best ledges are on Chickamauga's lower end.
7:15 – Scroggins gets off to a fast start fishing next to Burghoff
Fishing side-by-side is nothing new for tournament anglers on the Tennessee River system. It happens. These fish get found by everyone. Once in a while, we wind up witnessing a situation like what played out first thing this morning. Terry Scroggins and Miles Burghoff found the same ledge, set up side-by-side and went to work, only it was Scroggins who got the right line and started catching. He had four keepers for 11 pounds by 7 a.m., and that includes a 5-pounder. Having to watch the guy right next to you whack 'em to start the day can be tough on a guy's confidence, but Burghoff seems to be handling it OK. He has two fish for 5 pounds.
The updates have been rolling in for the last 20 or so minutes. Check the leaderboard (link above) for the latest estimated weights.
7 a.m. – The first Super Tournament is under way
It's been three months since a bass was weighed in on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit stage. Three months since FLW penned a six-figure check to a pro champion. Six months since fans have had the chance to root on the best professional bass anglers in the sport on FLW Live.
This week, we get to end the hiatus and get back to the business of professional bass fishing as the 2020 season picks up on Lake Chickamauga in Dayton, Tenn., with the first-ever Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament. FLW's original roster of pros will compete alongside more than 50 of Major League Fishing's star anglers in a field of 204 boats. Best of all, the FLW Live cameras will be rolling for all four days in a special extended-length broadcast.
Today's FLW Live show kicks off at 8 a.m. ET and runs until 2 p.m. ET. Hosts Travis Moran and Todd Hollowell will be joined in studio by MLF host Marty Stone. FLW also expanded its on-the-water camera crew to bring even more action to the fans.
The fishing during practice was as expected for Lake Chickamauga. Bass are setting up on offshore ledges and other offshore structure in places where they'll ride out summer's heat and forage on schools of shad. Catching those deeper fish has been a challenge. Most of the schools have been heavily pressured in recent weeks by local anglers and smaller tournaments, as well as by the Pro Circuit anglers in practice. They're easy to find, but not easy to make bite.
Grass growth is looking healthy on some parts of Chickamauga, too, and that bodes well for anglers who prefer to fish vegetation. There's also a good shallow bite, but few people expect a bank pattern to hold up for four days.
Odds are high that this will be won from a ledge by someone who's able to find a small satellite school that his competitors miss. There'll be a lot of sharing water, and a lot of challenging scenarios to figure out. And that's exactly what we expect when 200 of the top professional anglers come together in late June in the South.
Temperature at takeoff: 72 degrees
Forecast high: 83 degrees
Precipitation: 55 percent chane of rain; light showers in the morning, with the chance for thunderstorms in the afternoon
Wind: south at 7 mph
Hosted by Fish Dayton and the Rhea Economic & Tourism Council
Takeoff: 6:30 a.m. ET at Dayton Boat Dock, 185 Chickamauga Drive, Dayton, TN
Weigh-in: 3 p.m. ET at Wind Creek State Park
FLW Live weigh-in show: 3 p.m. ET to end of weigh-in
FLW Live studio and on-the-water show: 8 a.m.-2 p.m. ET all four days