Campbell crushes 29-7 on Chickamauga, opens a big lead going into Day 3 - Major League Fishing
Campbell crushes 29-7 on Chickamauga, opens a big lead going into Day 3
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Campbell crushes 29-7 on Chickamauga, opens a big lead going into Day 3

Image for Campbell crushes 29-7 on Chickamauga, opens a big lead going into Day 3
Brody Campbell caught the biggest bag of the tournament to move into the lead on Day 2. Photo by Garrett Davidson. Angler: Brody Campbell.
April 26, 2023 • Sean Ostruszka • Toyota Series

DAYTON, Tenn. – Now that’s the Lake Chickamauga we came to see … well, at least for one pro.

Two days of tough, dreary fishing during the Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats event had people bemoaning that the days of the lake’s 30-pound bags were over. Then Brody Campbell reminded everyone what was possible any given day on this lake.

With a bag anchored by a 9-pounder and a pair of 7-pounders, the Ohio pro put the entire field on notice by weighing in 29 pounds, 7 ounces to take the lead with 45-3 total.

To put that in perspective (and illustrate how tough the bite has been), had Campbell not fished Day 1, he still would be sitting in 12th going into tomorrow with today’s bag alone. However, he did fish Tuesday, which means he has a near 10-pound lead. Not to mention, plenty of optimism for the final day.

“I stayed near the ramp this morning just to try and get a limit,” Campbell said. “I didn’t run down south until noon, which is when I caught all my big ones. So, I burnt half my day. Maybe I could’ve had 35 pounds.”

Even with his “mistake,” it was by far the biggest bag he’s ever weighed in. Though, he says he’s not surprised, as he had two days in practice where he caught mid-20-pound bags.

What might surprise people, though, is how he’s doing it – junk fishing around four of the biggest community holes on the southern end of the lake. There have been pods of boats on those spots the whole tournament, and he says he’s been in amongst them. Only, he’s fishing a bit differently, a little more specific than the rest, and that’s been the key. Case in point, his three kickers today came on three different lures, but all on one-fish places within the community holes.

As for tomorrow, he’s excited to have fewer boats around him, and he definitely “won’t be laying up.”

“Today was one of them days, and I really wish I kept the hammer down to get as much of a lead as possible because you never know what will happen tomorrow,” Campbell said. “I could blank or catch 25 pounds.”

Consistency has been at a premium, and it has allowed Andrew Nordbye to stay at least somewhat in striking range going into Day 3. Photo by Garrett Davidson

It seems ridiculous to think a guy who just nearly weighed 30 pounds could blank, but it hasn’t been at this derby. Just look at the top pros from Day 1.

Leader Curtis Shaw only brought in one fish. Jeremy Gordon only brought in three, and Brent Chapman went from third place to 52nd by not bringing in a fish.

All of this is definitely in the back of the minds of Andrew Nordbye and Seth Davis, who sit the closest in second and third, respectively. After all, Nordbye is making his third consecutive Top 10 on Chickamauga in a Toyota Series event, and Davis has six Top 10s on the lake in Toyota Series and BFL events in the last five years.

Both anglers referenced their experience in planning for tomorrow, though how they’ll go about it may differ. Nordbye figures he may hunker down in his main area a bit more than he did today. Meanwhile, Davis has been hitting upwards of 40 specific, “high-percentage” spots to try to catch his fish, and he has a few he’s been saving for tomorrow.

So, yes, Campbell has a massive lead and loads of confidence for the final day, but as it showed today, Chickamauga can help or humble an angler very quickly. And on a lake where a 30-pound bag can always be a possibility, anything can happen.

Top 10 pros

1. Brody Campbell – 45 – 3 (10)       

2. Andrew Nordbye – 35 – 12 (10)

3. Seth Davis – 32 – 14 (10)    

4. Chris Ferguson – 31 – 8 (10)         

5. Austin Swindle – 31 – 6 (10)         

6. Casey Martin – 30 – 15 (10)

7. Jordan Wiggins – 30 – 11 (10)        

8. Ethan Shaw – 30 – 9 (10)  

9. Greg McDavid – 30 – 2 (10)          

10. Greg Pugh – 30 – 1 (10)  

Complete results